Navigating Long COVID: 4 Methods for Improving Persistent Symptoms

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.
Navigating Long COVID: 4 Methods for Improving Persistent Symptoms

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.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 10–20 percent of people experience various mid- and long-term effects after recovering from the initial illness.
To help alleviate these difficult-to-treat discomforts, Chinese medicine practitioners suggest the massage of acupuncture points and dietary therapies.

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.
Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center at Washington University in St. Louis, stated that COVID-19 has resulted in over 40 million new cases of neurological disorders worldwide. Research has shown that the virus can attack the inner walls of blood vessels in mice and humans, leading to strokes or seizures. This helps explain why some individuals without risk factors suddenly experience strokes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1 in 5 people below 65 who have had a COVID-19 infection may experience long COVID, while for those aged 65 and above, the likelihood is 1 in 4.

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.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis published an article in Nature-Medicine on Sept. 22, 2022, in which their comprehensive analysis of federal data showed that people infected with COVID-19 have a higher risk of developing neurological disorders in the first year after infection. Complications include strokes, cognitive and memory problems (brain fog), depression, anxiety, and migraines.

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.

Additionally, compared to individuals who have not been infected with COVID-19, COVID-infected individuals had an 80 percent higher risk of having epilepsy or experiencing seizures, a 43 percent higher risk of experiencing psychological health disorders like anxiety or depression, a 35 percent higher risk of mild to severe headaches, and a 42 percent higher risk of experiencing movement disorders, including involuntary muscle contractions, tremors, and other Parkinson's-like symptoms.

4 Methods to Alleviate Long COVID Symptoms

Remedies suggested by Chinese medicine practitioners to alleviate long COVID symptoms include:

1. Head Acupuncture Points Massage

Dr. 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.
 Baihui acupoint is about 1 thumb width posterior to the vertex of the head, which is approximately at the midpoint of the line connecting the apexes of both ears. <span style="font-size: 16px;">(The Epoch Times)</span>
Baihui acupoint is about 1 thumb width posterior to the vertex of the head, which is approximately at the midpoint of the line connecting the apexes of both ears. (The Epoch Times)

2. Sea Bass Soup With Astragalus and Gastrodia 

  • 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.

Astragalus has the effect of repairing the blood-brain barrier, a protective layer between the brain and the bloodstream. Gastrodia can penetrate this barrier, bringing medicines to the brain. Sea bass is rich in natural Omega-3, including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which aid in neurological repair.

3. Astragalus Paste

Astragalus paste, a remedy passed down from Zhang Xichun in the Qing dynasty, helps alleviate coughs.
Part one ingredients:
  • 12 grams (0.42 ounces) each of Astragalus, Rhizoma Imperatae, and Gypsum fibrosum
  • 600 cc (600 ml) water
Part two ingredients:
  • 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.

Note: Individuals with gastroesophageal reflux, a tendency for diarrhea, or blood sugar issues should avoid consuming excessive honey.

4. Turmeric

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and joint-protective properties, which can reduce joint pain. Consuming around 1.05 grams of turmeric and .005 grams of black pepper daily can improve symptoms.
Turmeric extracts (TEs) derived from the turmeric plant exhibit a wide array of noteworthy biological activities. These include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antigrowth, antiarthritic, antiatherosclerotic, antidepressant, antiaging, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, wound-healing, and memory-enhancing properties.
Clinical trials have successfully demonstrated the suitability of TEs as a pain management option for individuals with joint arthritis.
Kane Zhang is a reporter based in Japan. She has written on health topics for The Epoch Times since 2022, mainly focusing on Integrative Medicine. She also reports on current affairs related Japan and China.
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