What is long covid?
Covid and its symptoms doesn’t need any introduction and many people would be aware now of the term “Long Covid”. The prospects of getting long covid was one of the marketing ploys to encourage vaccination to avoid this. It appears though, that many people are still suffering from long covid even now. Scientists and researchers are still unsure what causes long covid but is suspected that virus fragments lingering in the body trigger ongoing symptoms or the immune system becoming overactive in response to COVID-19. It is also thought that the spike protein of the virus is having an ongoing allergic response to the lung causing various symptoms.
What are the symptoms of long covid?
Some of the commonly experienced symptoms are fatigue, achy body and joints, shortness of breath and foggy unclear thinking. Others have a milder set of symptoms described as just not being as fit as they used to be, with chest pains and palpitations with limited exertion. There are other signs and symptoms thought to be associated with long covid or post covid viral infection, which include various skin problems, headaches and insomnia.
How does Chinese medicine view Long Covid?
Modern scientists call them lingering viral fragments and Chinese medicine calls its lingering pathogens. In simplified terms, the bug, whether its Covid or Epstein -Barr, can stay stuck in the the different layers of the body known as the 6 divisions. You can read more about this here. This sleeping bug so to say comes and goes resulting in the various symptoms such as fatigue coming and going. The person feels ok for a few hours or a couple days and then crashes again. They might be OK in the morning and worse again in the afternoon. The treatment principle is to expel the pathogen. This is where self subscribed herbal tonics or even up dosing on supplements may hinder the process. Not only does the body feed on the extra nutrition, but so does the bug, which gets stronger again.
What is the Chinese medicine treatment strategy for Long Covid?
There is a treatment protocol known as “harmonizing” which involves treatment to expel or neutralize the bug whilst at the same time tonify and strengthen the “fighting” qi known as zheng qi in Chinese medicine. One herb that treats this “fighting” qi is da zao, the Chinese date. In terms of acupuncture, we have specific points such as “Rapid Horses” (si ma) which are also used for many immune and allergy type problems.
Should I exercise during my Long Covid phase?
As a general rule, when you exercise too much, you will use up your reserves of zheng qi or fighting qi. When your reserves get low, the lingering bugs will arise. This is why many people will feel worse and crash again after trying to make for lost time and over exercise during their convalescent period. The best guideline world be to wait until you have had at least a few weeks of no post covid symptoms at all before starting to take on that vigorous exercise regime again. Walking, meditation and simple basic yoga stretches is likely to be better for you during this recovery phase.
Where can I get acupuncture treatment to help me with post covid rehabilitation?
Contact Acupuncture New Zealand for your nearest member. Heiko Lade of The Acupuncture Clinic in Hastings and Kane Monrad of Connect Therapies in Hamilton both use the Master Tung Style Acupuncture in their clinics.