Lifestyle changes may be more effective than pharmaceuticals in treating long COVID or post-COVID vaccine syndrome, preliminary survey findings suggest.
Over 450 individuals who identified themselves as vaccine-injured were surveyed on treatments they found helpful. Treatments were then ranked based on the number of patient reports.
While only vaccine-injured individuals were surveyed, the similar symptomatology and disease mechanism between long COVID and postvaccine symptoms means that the same therapeutics may be applicable to treat both conditions.
Pacing StrategiesPacing strategies have emerged as the most effective change for managing symptoms.
Unlike healthy individuals, those with long COVID or vaccine injuries often experience chronic fatigue daily. It's as if they have limited energy reserves, and even simple tasks like showering or walking the dogs can quickly become exhausting.
To prevent burnout, people in this condition must pace themselves and carefully plan their activities to ensure overall functionality and well-being, Wallskog told The Epoch Times.
Physical therapies are often considered the opposite approach.
Unexpectedly, findings from the React19 survey revealed that all forms of exercise seemed to exacerbate symptoms, with avoiding exercise ranking as the eighth most helpful therapy for symptom reduction.
Wallskog, an orthopedist, noted the tendency among doctors in his specialty to recommend physical therapy when uncertain about treatment options. However, the survey's data serve as an educational reminder for doctors not to rely on physical therapy as a knee-jerk response.
Fasting May Clear Spike ProteinsScott Marsland, a nurse practitioner specializing in long COVID and vaccine injuries, and Dr. Syed Haider, a board-certified internist, suggest that intermittent or prolonged fasting can be an effective lifestyle change for managing vaccine injuries and long COVID.
Fasting offers several benefits besides weight loss, including improved cognition and reduced inflammation and oxidation. It can also activate autophagy, which may aid in the removal of COVID-19 spike proteins, Marsland said.
While there is no definitive test to confirm the removal of spike proteins through fasting, patients who diligently follow fasting protocols often show lower anti-spike antibody levels, indicating potential removal of spike proteins, Marsland added.
In addition to clearing spike proteins, fasting can reduce inflammation. According to Marsland, some patients experience improved brain fog during the later hours of a 72-hour fast.
Fasting Not Recommended for EveryoneFasting can come with various drawbacks, such as mood swings, nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, and loss of muscle mass. For those who want to do prolonged fasting regularly, Marsland cautioned that patients should stick to 72-hour fasting sessions at a maximum of once per month. This schedule is important since some people may lose muscle mass and, in rare cases, muscle wasting.
People with diabetes or those taking medication should consult their doctors before starting a fasting regimen. In addition, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid fasting.
Dietary ChangesPeople with autoimmune diseases, gut dysbiosis, or mast cell activation syndrome resulting from long COVID or postvaccine syndrome may find relief and reduce inflammation by following low-histamine and noninflammatory diets.
Addressing excessive inflammation and hyperactivation as initial steps in treating long COVID and vaccine reactions is crucial, said Dr. Keith Berkowitz, a board-certified internist. Dietary changes play a significant role in reducing background inflammation. Potential dietary modifications include eliminating sugar, processed food, gluten, and dairy. High-histamine foods like aged meats, fermented foods, and dairy can also be avoided, according to Berkowitz. Patients should tailor their diet based on their specific conditions.
Stress-Relieving ActivitiesStress, whether mental or physical, is common in individuals with long COVID and vaccine injuries. Chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation, causing continuous damage to the body.
Temperature treatments involving cold and heat exposure can help reset the body's response to external changes and reduce stress. For example, cold water baths and ice can release built-up stress and reduce inflammation, even with minimal temperature differences, according to Haider. Warm exposures, like saunas or warm water baths, offer similar benefits but may not be suitable for individuals with mast cell activation syndrome due to potential flares from heat exposure.
The Interconnection Between Mind and BodyWhile long COVID and postvaccination injuries are primarily physical, the deep emotional wounds inflicted must be addressed for the healing process to begin, Dressen said.
Many people with long COVID and postvaccine reactions experience trauma and disbelief, Dressen said. They often start their journey in denial, desperately seeking a solution to improve their condition. But there are no quick fixes, especially for such a complicated condition.
Lifestyle Changes Are Just 1 Piece of the PuzzleWhile lifestyle changes can bring long-term symptom relief for many individuals, they may not provide a complete recovery solution, Dressen said. She found a combination of daily intravenous immunoglobulin infusions and avoiding high-histamine foods to be the most effective in managing her own postvaccine symptoms.
"It's not as simple as saying, 'I'm going to meditate and pace myself,'" she said. "If it was that simple, we wouldn't all be crying out for help over and over."
Additionally, some people have found other therapies, such as hyperbaric oxygen and intravenous immunoglobulin, highly beneficial. However, these therapies can be expensive and less accessible, which may explain their lower ranking.
Wallskog, who has not been very responsive to recommended therapies, said that gaining a new spiritual perspective on his work has been most helpful in coping with his symptoms."I think we're fighting a bigger battle," he said. "This isn't just about our adverse events to shots; I think that there's just a much bigger-picture battle going on."