Although the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, many infected individuals continue to suffer from symptoms of long COVID, mirroring viral illnesses that can affect our quality of daily life.
The most common symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, breathing difficulties, and cognitive impairments, such as confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration. Other symptoms include persistent cough, chest pain, muscle aches, difficulty speaking, loss of smell or taste, depression or anxiety, and fever.
Why Does Long COVID Occur?In his self-media program, Dr. Daniel Kao, a physician in internal Chinese medicine at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, explained that the COVID-19 virus binds to the ACE2 receptor (a protein found on the surface of many cell types), leaving aftereffects within the body. ACE2 is present in many organs throughout the body and is most abundant in the respiratory tract. The virus utilizes its spike protein to bind to ACE2 before entering and infecting cells, much like a key inserted into a lock. Thus, ACE2 serves as the cellular gateway (receptor) for the virus.
How Does the COVID-19 Virus Damage the Brain?Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff, a medical doctor at Harvard Medical School, pointed out in his article, published in Harvard Health Publishing, on March 1, that the COVID-19 virus damages the brain in various ways. Initial infection might lead to encephalitis, causing mental confusion, difficulties concentrating, and memory issues (brain fog). It can also trigger new psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. The virus also damages the brain's autonomic nervous system, leading to abnormal heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, it infects and damages the inner wall of the blood vessels, making blood clotting more likely.
Analysis of MRI scans conducted before and after COVID-19 infection revealed that the virus can lead to a certain degree of brain shrinkage.
The researchers established a controlled dataset of 154,000 people who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 15, 2021, and were treated within the first 30 days. They conducted follow-up brain examinations over the course of a year. Compared to uninfected individuals, those infected with COVID-19 had a 7 percent higher risk of neurological disorders, a 77 percent higher risk of brain fog, and a 50 percent higher risk of ischemic stroke.
4 Methods to Alleviate Long COVID SymptomsRemedies suggested by Chinese medicine practitioners to alleviate long COVID symptoms include:
1. Head Acupuncture Points MassageDr. Kao also pointed out that brain fog is a common symptom of long COVID. He recommends relieving brain fog and fatigue by pressing and gently tapping the Hundred Convergences Acupoint on the head.
2. Sea Bass Soup With Astragalus and GastrodiaIngredients:
- 9 grams (0.32 ounces) prepared astragalus
- 9 grams (0.32 ounces) Gastrodia
- 300 grams (10.58 ounces) sea bass
- 20.29 fluid ounces water
Boil ingredients on high heat for five minutes, then simmer on low heat for approximately 30–40 minutes.
3. Astragalus PasteAstragalus paste, a remedy passed down from Zhang Xichun in the Qing dynasty, helps alleviate coughs.
- 12 grams (0.42 ounces) each of Astragalus, Rhizoma Imperatae, and Gypsum fibrosum
- 600 cc (600 ml) water
- 9 grams (0.32 ounces) ground raw yam
- 6 grams (0.21 ounces) ground licorice
Boil part one ingredients 2–3 times on high heat then add part 2 ingredients.
Serve with 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of honey after cooking for a soothing effect on coughs.