Integrative Treatment Options for Long-Term COVID-19 Symptoms

Long-Term Effects of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 20 million people and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. Most people who recover from COVID-19 return to normal health, but some suffer long-term effects which range from mild to severe and can last weeks or months after recovery from the acute stage. Integrative treatment options can be an important contribution to alleviating the long-term effects of COVID-19.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common long-term effects of COVID-19 include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, chest pain, depression, muscle pain, headache, and heart palpitations. Less common but more serious long-term symptoms affecting organ systems include:

  • Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
  • Renal: acute kidney injury
  • Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
  • Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
  • Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood

Integrative Treatments That Can Help Alleviate Long-Term COVID-19 Effects

Integrative treatments can help with many of these long-term COVID-19 effects. Here we look specifically at the integrative approaches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET), and Reiki.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)*

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

For more than 5,000 years, TCM has been using acupuncture and herbal medicine as primary tools within a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating ailments of all kinds. The TCM practitioner considers every aspect of an individual’s state of health, not just a particular diagnosis, symptom, or set of symptoms.

All of the observations, signs and symptoms gathered by the TCM practitioner are distilled into what is called the TCM Diagnostic Pattern, which takes into account all the factors affecting an individual’s state of health at each visit. Each treatment is unique in that way. This holistic approach can be very effective in mitigating symptoms that may appear unrelated.

TCM has effective treatments for many of the symptoms found in long-term COVID patients, for example:

  • Respiratory – chronic cough, wheezing, phlegm, asthma
  • Cardiovascular – palpitations, tightness in the chest
  • Dermatological – rash, hair loss
  • Neurological – loss of taste/smell, neuropathy
  • Psychiatric – depression, anxiety, changes in mood
  • Kidney impairment
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory
  • All types of pain

TCM Complements Western Medical Therapies for Treating Long-Term Effects of COVID-19

The tools of TCM, notably acupuncture and herbal medicine, can work well as complements to Western medical therapies. In some instances, herbal medicine can also be a viable alternative to prescription medications.

Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET)

NAET can be particularly beneficial for those with allergies and sensitivities that are made worse by the long-term effects of COVID-19.

NAET is a non-invasive, drug-free therapy, that integrates techniques from multiple healing modalities such as acupuncture, acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic techniques, Applied Kinesiology, homeopathy, and nutrition. NAET works to rebalance the body to bring it back to a homeostatic state.

Within the system of NAET, reactivity can be associated with anything that you eat, drink, inhale, or touch. However, reactivity can also be due to how your body reacts to itself, viruses, bacteria, mold, heavy metals, etc. Through applied kinesiology (muscle testing), it is determined if symptoms are best addressed using NAET or another modality. Some of the symptoms of long-term COVID that NAET can help alleviate include:

  • Respiratory – chronic cough, wheezing, phlegm, asthma
  • Dermatological – rash, hair loss
  • Neurological – loss of taste/smell, neuropathy
  • Psychiatric – depression, anxiety, changes in mood
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory
  • All types of pain

Reiki

Reiki has been shown to lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and may also have a positive effect on depression and anxiety by calming the nervous system. The practice of Reiki is both a healing therapy for others and a self-healing personal practice.

Meditation

The health benefits of mindfulness and meditation practices is a growing area for research. For example, deep, diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve and calm the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight). Such breathing also helps to increase the oxygen within the cells.

Reiki and Meditation as Complements to Other Medical Treatments for Long-Term Effects of COVID-19

Reiki and meditation, individually or together, can work well in conjunction with other medical treatments. Both Reiki and meditation help alleviate stress and anxiety, dialing down the intensity of symptoms like pain. In addition, these modalities can enhance the body’s responsiveness to other treatments, helping to speed healing and restoration of health.


*Although we are focusing here on how TCM can help to alleviate the long-term effects of COVID-19, it should be noted that TCM practitioners and researchers are exploring applications of TCM for preventing and treating COVID-19 acute illness as well. See, for example: Prevention and treatment of COVID-19 using Traditional Chinese Medicine: A review. Phytomedicine. 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7439087/


For information on COVID-19 prevention please visit the CDC website page, COVID – Prevent Getting Sick (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/index.html)


References: 

  1. Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html – Accessed on February 1, 2021.
  2. Long-Term Effects of COVID-19. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.html – Accessed on February 1, 2021.
  3. www.naet.com
  4. Immediate effects of reiki on heart rate variability, cortisol levels, and body temperature in health care professionals with burnout. Biol Res Nurs. 2011 Oct;13(4):376-82. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21821642/
  5. Breath of Life: The Respiratory Vagal Stimulation Model of Contemplative Activity. Front Hum Neurosci. 2018; 12: 397. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6189422/

Teri began her studies in energy medicine as part of her own personal development journey, and continues to to learn and integrate that knowledge into her practice. Teri is the founding practitioner of Calandra Center for Health and Wellness in Chicago, Illinois. She is licensed by the State of Illinois in acupuncture (L.Ac.), and board certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).