Taking the herbal approach to Long Covid
From the earliest days of Covid I have been in touch with other herbalists as the world tried to make sense of what was happening with a seemingly new virus that is still creating havoc around the world. Many herbalists wrote of their clinical experiences of having treated some patients who had contracted Covid. They were initially focused on trying to help ameliorate the more unpleasant symptoms people were experiencing, particularly inflammation and breathing difficulties, and of course supporting the immune system. However, it has become apparent that Covid is a lot more than a respiratory virus as evidence of the long-term sequelae emerges. Studies from Ireland, Italy, and the U.S. all show some common patterns. It seems that the long-term consequences for a significant number of people are just as, if not more, serious than what is experienced in the early days of contracting Covid. Young people who many not have had severe symptoms when the infection was in its acute phase, appear to be just as susceptible as the older population to ending up with Long Covid.
No doubt there will be larger studies carried out over the next year, but to extrapolate from a small number of studies, the most common long-term symptom reported by sufferers is fatigue. This fatigue can be very debilitating and can last for months. It is often accompanied by sleep disturbance, muscle aches and pains, brain ‘fog’ and joint pains. All pretty unpleasant symptoms in and of themselves, but try having them all at once as some people are reporting.
So, Covid is much more than a ‘flu’ like illness and it may take some time to uncover its full potential for damage. One of the more serious complications relates to cardiovascular complications, with increased risk of clotting and subsequent damage to the delicate endothelial lining of our blood vessels. Other organs like the lungs and kidneys are also at risk from this micro clotting, so it is vital to limit any potential for harm as much as we can. Foods and herbs that are high in polyphenols support endothelial function and reduce clotting risk. Garlic and ginger – both valued as foods and medicinal herbs, are effective anti-coagulants. In addition, I always use hawthorn in any prescription for heart health. Combined with other key herbs, it is a primary herb to support cardiac tissue and to boost the health of the blood vessels. And the benefits of high dose Vitamins C and D come up constantly in webinars and many discussions amongst both doctors and herbalists. Zinc and Quercitin are other important recommendations for a daily regime, both for treatment and preventative purposes.
People afflicted with chronic fatigue can benefit from herbs such as Gotu kola, Gingseng and Licorice to give a few examples. There are many other herbs which support the respiratory and adrenal system, and aid mitochondrial function. These are both important ‘recovery’ routes for those left very depleted by this illness. There are a number of additional approaches that will be required to help someone with Long Covid slowly recover their energy and health. In my experience to date, it is a route than can take many months. However, now as never before we know the value of our health and I think 2021 will be pivotal in helping us reframe our priorities.
For enquiries related to treatment with Long Covid, you can email me at [email protected]