You might have had COVID weeks or even months ago, but you’re still struggling with fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, sluggishness, or mild cognitive decline. Or, you might have chest pain, heart palpitations, muscle aches, sleeping issues, loss of taste and smell, even anxiety and depression. Do these symptoms mean you have long COVID? It's very possible. Research, which is still evolving, currently shows that roughly 10-25% of COVID patients experience long COVID symptoms. COVID can lead to Inflammation and vascular dysfunction due to microclots, which cause many of these symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms, your first step should be to go to a doctor who treats patients with long COVID and who is knowledgeable in holistic functional medicine. There are tests that can be done, beyond the standard tests, that measure cytokines. Cytokines are molecules produced by the immune system; when in excess they can overstimulate the immune system, which can damage cells and organs. Cytokine levels are typically increased during COVID, and particularly in long COVID. One reason long COVID is difficult to identify is that many of its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases and conditions. Therefore, one of the first things to do is rule out other diseases. Have your cytokine function evaluated to determine whether long COVID is causing symptoms, as cytokines are a marker for inflammation. Also, depending on your symptoms and health history, you might test for hypothyroidism, Lyme Disease and autoimmune disease. Brain fog, cognitive decline and fatigue are the most common symptoms of long COVID, affecting roughly 70% of long COVID patients. Even though COVID was first defined as a respiratory disease, research shows that long COVID can impact brain function. Brain fog is basically when mental processes slow down - this might be confusion, memory issues, inability to concentrate or focus and decline of executive function, or decision-making. Long COVID can also affect your microbiome and gut health, and, if untreated, can even lead to autoimmune disease. This is why getting treatment as soon as you have symptoms is essential. It is also critical that you find a doctor familiar with long COVID and its treatment.
Treating Long COVID
The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation. From a functional standpoint, there are many options which might be considered:
Natural immune modulators such the peptide Thymosin Alpha 1, which stimulates the adaptive immune response
Specific herbs that reduce specific elevated cytokine levels
Antioxidants such as curcumin, black cumin seed oil, and glutathione
Natural compounds that break down micro-clots such as nattokinase and lumbrokinase, enzymes which assist your body in clearing away blood clots
IV therapy using highly potent compounds containing Vitamin C, lipoic acid and glutathione
Targeted pro- and prebiotics to repair and strengthen the microbiome
Compounds that heal intestinal permeability (leaky gut) such as BPC -157, a peptide that is very beneficial in healing gut permeability
Phosphatidylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory
Exosome therapy, which uses stem cells and compounds to amplify the body’s natural healing process
Infrared laser therapy (Novothor)
This plan, a natural therapy that reduces the inflammation that’s causing the symptoms, can effectively reverse the symptoms of long COVID. While there is no medical “cure” for long COVID, this approach treats the cause - inflammation - and has provided astounding results for patients with long COVID.