Treatment of Post-COVID Syndrome with Traditional Chinese Medicine

COVID is a word we are tired of hearing, but unfortunately, it will be lurking around for many in the years to come. Every day we learn more about its impact. In some way, we have all been infected. Some of us have had COVID or know family, friends, and acquaintances diagnosed. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 172,242,495 cases have been reported globally as of June 2021. These cases have mild, moderate to serve symptoms. Most people infected will make a complete recovery within a couple of weeks. However, some people, “long haulers,” continue to experience symptoms after recovering from the active infection. This outcome could affect them for the rest of their lives. People are experiencing reduced lung function, gastro-intentional tract dysfunction, psychiatric disorders, and post-viral chronic fatigue syndrome.

COVID is a Multi-organ Pathogen

COVID is a viral infection that mainly affects the respiratory and digestive systems, but it can also affect other organs. How does this happen? The ACE2 Receptors. These receptors are found on many body cells, including the nose, mouth, lungs, arteries, heart, kidneys, liver, brain, and intestines. The virus enters the body through the mouth and nose. The virus uses its spikes to attach to the ACE2 receptors, like a key and lock, to invade the lung system. Once the virus is in the cell, it starts to replicate and multiply, causing inflammation and damage. The virus can then travel to other areas with the ACE2 receptors infecting multi-organ systems and possible long-term health problems, Post-COVID Syndrome.

Post-COVID Syndrome

In post-COVID Syndrome, the patient still has clinical manifestations that affect their quality of life even though the active infection COVID test is negative. These symptoms can be mild to debilitating. Here are some of the lingering symptoms:
• Fatigue
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Joint pain
• Chest pain
• Cough
• Memory or concentration problems
• Rhinitis
• Fast pounding heart
• Loss of taste and smell
• Muscle pain
• Headache
• Depression and anxiety
• Lack of appetite
• Sore throat
• Vertigo
• Diarrhea

Traditional Chinese medicine is in a unique position to take on the “long hauler” epidemic

From a Western medicine perspective, full recovery happens when the active infection COVID test is negative. Unfortunately, this is not always true. The signs and symptoms may persist even though the active infection is clear. The good news is that Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can play a role in helping people fully recover from Post-COVID Syndrome.

Eastern herbal medicine is a key player. The pandemic started in China. In two months, they were able to control the outbreak because Chinese herbal medicine played a significant role in prevention and treatment. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is part of China’s mainstream medical system. In February of 2020, more than 85% of patients in China diagnosed with COVID-19 received Eastern herbal medicine for prevention. They also used herbal formulas combined with Western Medicine treatments to reduce the need for more intensive Western medical care. Herbs work!

In the west, we believe western medicine is superior. We don’t give much thought to the effectiveness of herbs, but they are powerful. Eastern herbal medicine includes a wide range of antivirals, antibacterial, and antimicrobial herbs used in prevention and treatment. In addition, there are herbs that clear, tonify and nourish in recovery. The herbs are typically combined into formulas to address a patient’s constitution and unique presentation of symptoms. Also, these herbs are used effectively in the treatment of post-viral syndromes. Therefore, it can be ideal and effective in treating Post-COVID Syndrome.

“The only way to optimal health is to take care of ourselves everyday emotionally, physically and mentally.”

Sheri Davidson, licensed acupuncturist and Duke Integrative Medicine trained wellness coach, specializes in preventative medicine. She loves sharing her passion for wellness living and Eastern medicine through her blog, The Wellness Inspired Podcast, and practice, Element 5, Acupuncture + Wellness in Rice Village District of Houston, TX.  Also, Sheri currently serves on the Texas Medical Board of Acupuncture Examiners

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Sheri Davidson
L.Ac. + Wellness Coach