Updated: Jan 19, 2022
Recently I read a conversation about long term COVID symptoms on a Facebook Hiking Group page. I was surprised by how many people in the group were unable to hike many months after having COVID. The shortness of breath and fatigue made more than a short walk impossible. Some people complained of other symptoms, like headaches. The initial bout of COVID was not always severe, either. It was surprising to see so many people who were active hikers, so in my mind pretty fit and healthy, having such hard time recovering.
Early on in the pandemic, I read reports from China that even in asymptomatic young people, lung damage was found on CT scans in those testing positive with the virus. There's also the issues the virus causes with blood clotting and systemic inflammation. An immune system fight with a virus like this will also cause some nutrient stores, like zinc, to become depleted.
In my clinic practice, I have seen long hauler patients with lingering or new digestive issues, including constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux. Shortness of breath and chest tightness can also develop. These issues are all related to the function of the lungs and digestive system, which are known to be affected by the coronavirus and are closely related systems in acupuncture theory.
In Chinese medicine terms, people recovering from battle with this virus could be depleted and need their resources restored. They also could still have the sticky, phlegmy mucus in their bodies and need herbs and acupuncture to help clear that out. The acupuncturist can determine what's needed by asking questions and making diagnostic observations. From there, specific acupunctures and Chinese herbal formulas are chosen to bring the patient's body back to a healthy balance.
While physicians continue to explore long hauler syndrome and develop new medical treatments, I think that acupuncturists can play an important role in helping people recover more quickly. If you're a long hauler, reach out and let's see how acupuncture and herbal medicine can help get you back to health.