COVID affects people in different ways. Some have very few symptoms and recover within days, while others suffer from “long COVID.” As a “long hauler” it can be difficult to know how long your symptoms will last, which can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. As a naturopathic doctor, I have paid close attention to ongoing studies and findings regarding what is known as Long Hauler Syndrome. As a result, I have discovered home treatments, self-care techniques, and nutritional approaches to improve Long Haul outcomes. Here is a look at long haul COVID and some of the treatments and home remedies clinicians recommend.
Who Does Long COVID Affect?
There are more than 30 percent of COVID patients experiencing some degree of symptoms more than four weeks after infection. With that said, Long Haul Syndrome is more common in women and older patients. We’re seeing an assortment of factors leading to this diagnosis including those with type two diabetes. As well, those who have suffered from Epstein-Barr virus are seeing a reactivation of their symptoms. A final contributing factor is your viral load. Viral load is the amount of virus in your body. It makes sense then, that those with higher viral load at the beginning of the infection can contribute to a dysregulation of the immune system. (1)
Long COVID Protocols: Symptoms Of Long-Haul Syndrome
No one single treatment resource is going to fit everyone because we all experience different symptoms. When consulting with patients, I’m seeing a mix of similar and unique symptoms from patient to patient. Some common symptoms of long COVID include:
- Hair loss
- Brain fog
- Massive headaches
- Difficulty breathing
- Anxiety and depression
- Nerve impairment
- Changes in functionality, mentally
However, regardless of your symptoms there are some excellent treatments and techniques you can use that you will likely find helpful.
What Is Long COVID Brain Fog?
Brain fog can be life-altering, causing slowed thinking, confusion, difficulty remembering things, and poor concentration. Neuroplasticity offers hope in helping the brain rewire itself in patients with brain fog. It helps retrain the brain adapt and strengthen using a series of brain exercises. (2)
Long COVID Protocols: ACE Receptivity
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE) provides the coronavirus with an entry point. Our ACE Receptivity targets the connection between all of our organs which play a key role in our functionality and detoxification process. Because it provides an entry point, it also contributes to a large amount of long COVID symptoms impacting our ACE Receptivity. ACE2 is an enzyme found in our cells which cuts up larger protein angiotensinogen needed to regulate cell function. COVID uses the protein because it is on the surface of the cell allowing it to bind to cells more easily. This is how it becomes a receptor for the virus. (3)
ACE2 is meant to help modulate activities of angiotensin II (ANG II), a protein that increases blood pressure and inflammation. When ACE2 can’t do its job, ANG II can damage blood vessel linings and other tissues. ACE2 helps counteract ANG II by converting it into other molecules. However, when COVID is present it contributes to injury including the lung and heart. (3)
Patients with reduced amounts of ACE2 are likely more susceptible to COVID-19 because the receptors help the virus enter the body, so more ANG II damage can occur. This includes increased risk for inflammation, cell death and even possible organ failure. (3)
Long COVID And The Brain
If we look at ACE receptivity, not only are the lungs affected, but the brain is also targeted. In cases of long COVID, the neurons are damaged. As a result, we’re seeing a massive amounts of brain related inflammation. Symptoms of long COVID can sometimes include visual disturbances and cognitive impairment. This results from reduced oxygen supply which silences cells of the nervous system. (4)
Seven Innovative Long COVID Protocols
If you’re like a lot of people, you are probably overwhelmed with a lot of information regarding long COVID. That’s why I’ve put together this simple list of seven innovative therapies being used to treat long COVID with some success:
1. Long COVID Protocols – Low Dose Naltrexone
The first thing that we’re seeing is low dose naltrexone. It is a common treatment for chronic fatigue. Doses could be as low as half a milligram and up to five milligrams. This treatment helps control inflammation.
2. Long COVID Protocols – Beta Blockers
For patients dealing with heart related imbalances such as elevated heart rates or higher blood pressure, beta blockers are being prescribed for diastolic and systolic changes. Cardiologists are seeing beta blockers help manage these types of heart symptoms because they cause the heart to beat more slowly and less forcefully. As a result, blood pressure lowers. They also widen arteries and veins improving blood flow. (5)
3. Long COVID Protocols – Intermittent Hypoxia-hyperoxia Treatment
This treatment provides oxygen at a very low rate of 12% oxygen titration to mirror “altitude training.” Breathing in low dose oxygen has a protective effect by creating cellular adaptation within your body. The term comes from the lessening of oxygen levels at higher altitudes. We acclimatize at a higher altitude with a gradual lessening of oxygen levels. This natural response triggers the body to better utilize oxygen. As a result, you can support and enhance some of the organs that might have been starved for oxygen due to COVID. This is a common issues for patients who were on ventilators.
4. Long COVID Protocols – Sodium Pyruvate Nasal Spray
This is a very powerful way of addressing the inflammatory state in the oral and ear/nose and throat passageway that causes that noted loss of taste and smell.
5. Long COVID Protocols – Hyperbaric Chambers
A hyperbaric chamber works like scuba diving. The chamber produces a reduction in pressure that is slow and steady. Hyperbaric chamber therapy is quite comfortable, often set up as a room where you can sit and read for about 45 minutes.
6. Long COVID Protocols – Melatonin
Melatonin is a treatment option as it is a neurotransmitter. That means every single cell in your body has receptivity to use melatonin. It has a direct correlation to our pineal gland which helps with anti-aging such as cellular oxidation and oxidative stress. These are rejuvenating processes that aid the healing process of damaged cells.
7. Long COVID Protocols – Heat Therapy
Heat therapy is an interesting treatment that applies intense heat to create a circulatory effect. Patients wear special suits and then are submerged in intense, warm water.
Long COVID Protocols For Home
Some of the things you can do at home include:
Long COVID Protocol – Fasting
Extended fasting is highly powerful. When we go into ketosis our bodies start to adapt metabolically to how we’re burning fuel and using energy. As a result, we begin to burn more fat. As ketosis progresses it triggers something called autophagy. Autophagy means your cells are recycling old components and breaking down misfolded proteins linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s. We can break off certain cells that are dysfunctional helping us see a protein restructuring of ourselves.
Because of the neurodegeneration experienced during long COVID, we can see benefits from this process. Within about two days, we start to get a mass production of human growth hormone. We shed cells during autophagy, and human growth hormone elicits new cellular growth. At the same time, we reduce insulin production allowing the new cells to produce and take root without the influence of insulin. By day three, immune cell recycling begins, an important stage for long COVID patients since it causes our immune systems to go awry.
Long COVID Protocol – Solo Pad From Sunlight
This is a far infrared unit that provides heat therapy. Far infrared therapy is highly beneficial in heating up and elevating the body as it helps trigger a healthy immune response to trigger reduction of toxic cells. The bottom part of the pad emits far infrared heat which helps you sweat and trigger detoxing. It’s a great home therapy that also allows you to just lie and relax. If you want to watch TV or work during sweat therapy, you can use the Theramassage Infrared Unit (with chair) which is like a little tent with a hole for your head and slots for your arms.
Long COVID Protocol – Far Infrared For Pain
If you suffer from long COVID related pain, far infrared helps reduce swelling and inflammation. It uses s a particular type of LightWave that goes anywhere from two to three inches into the skin and past the dermal layer. As a result, it can actually keep up and invigorate the lymphatics. It can help heal organs, tissues and our joints that are dealing with a lot of inflammation. UTK offers a series of mats you can apply to various areas of your body.
Long COVID Protocol – Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates gluten and dairy as well as heavily chemically laden foods helps reduce inflammation. Instead of animal proteins you can look at healthier anti-inflammatory fats like coconut oil. However, you can enjoy a keto diet with animal proteins from organic sources. Just avoid the dairy.
Long COVID Protocol – Collagen
Collagen plays an important role in helping repair and restore our neurons and the overall tissue of our body. If you’re dealing with long COVID, you have damaged neurons. Collagen can greatly enhance the repair of damage done to our neurons. Collagen can be added to your diet, as it comes in powder form. However, there are different types of collagens. When restoring heart and lung damage from fibrosis within the lungs or micro clotting, there will be scarring. Therefore, collagen type 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 are key to healing these issues. You can just add the powder to coffee, smoothies, or anything for that matter to get your dose of collagen.
Long COVID Protocol – Self-care And Space For Healing
Any healing process requires dedicated time for self-care. Self-care is the new health care. As a result, you need to put aside time in your day to reduce stress and perform anti-inflammatory enhancing activities. The beauty of this type of healing, is it really leaves the door wide open to choose the things that make you happy. The main point is to create space for healing in your day – every single day.
Some tips to help with long COVID self-care include:
- Choose a time of day that suits your schedule so you don’t get stressed just thinking of when you can attend to self-care.
- Choose activities that bring you joy such as a walk in the park, dancing, yoga or bird watching.
- Plan a spa day at home with a soothing bath, meditation, relaxing music, herbal tea and complete down time.
Whatever healthy activities bring you joy and help reduce stress can become part of your daily self-care regime.
Proper Lab Tests For Long COVID Protocol
Getting the proper blood tests and lab work is very important when identifying issues with long COVID. Important biomarkers evaluate immune subsets in your blood. They also evaluate the auto-immune T-cell responses and cytokine impact within your body.
T cells are crucial in the immune response to viruses like COVID. There are different types of T-cells, many of which are involved in the response to COVID. Ultimately proper response helps kill cells that become infected, stopping the virus from progressing. Neutralizing bodies help identify viruses to actually block the virus from infecting cells, while other T-cells clear the dead cells during the recovery process. (6)
A cytokine storm is basically an inflammatory storm in the body. The inflammatory response from COVID is caused by the release of a large number of cytokines with studies suggesting the cytokine storm correlates directly with: (7)
- Lung Injury
- Multi-Organ Failure
- Unfavorable Prognosis Of Severe COVID-19
You also want to request testing to measure anti-inflammatory markers showing increases as this can indicate underlying issues.
Because COVID is still so new, we are learning more about its progress and possible long-lasting effects every day. As a result, patients often have to be their own advocates to get the best possible treatment.
I’m sharing my long COVID testing checklist with the most important biomarkers that help evaluate immune subsets in your blood. Download the list today and share it with your healthcare providers to help ensure the proper lab work is performed for your long COVID issues.