Post COVID-19 sequela, known as long COVID, is a complex multi-system disease. The symptoms generally appear one to three months after confirmed COVID infection. Nowadays, there is still no single effective treatment for long COVID in the medical sector. A recent study by University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio found that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) acupuncture combined with appropriate physiotherapy can quickly and effectively relieve symptoms of the long COVID, or it may become a potential treatment.
The study found that a 50-year-old woman developed symptoms of fatigue, loss of smell, chest tightness, palpitations, dry cough, and brain fog for eight months after being diagnosed with COVID-19. And her medical examination revealed multisystem inflammation. Traditional Chinese medicine diagnosed the patient with symptoms of qi (vital energy) deficiency in the heart, lung, spleen, and kidney.
The patient then received TCM acupuncture treatment on her head, ear, and body. After one week of acupuncture, physiotherapy was started, including six sessions of 30-minute training.
The results showed that the patient’s chest pressure and palpitations were significantly relieved after the first acupuncture treatment.
- After completing 7 sessions of acupuncture and physiotherapy, she had fully recovered.
- The patient reported that she felt more energetic after the second acupuncture treatment.
- Her olfactory function improved after the third treatment.
- Cough symptoms were significantly reduced after her fourth treatment.
- Brain fog symptoms were reduced after her fifth treatment.
- She resumed numerous and heavy gardening after the sixth treatment.
- She had fully recovered after receiving the seventh treatment.
The study has been published in the medical journal Medical Acupuncture.
The common symptoms of long COVID are fatigue, headache, attention disturbance, etc. In addition, 29 percent of long COVID patients had imaging abnormalities in various organs, including the heart, lung, kidney, liver, spleen, pancreas, and so on.
The study confirmed for the first time that TCM acupuncture can effectively alleviate the sequela of long COVID, suggesting that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for long COVID.
However, the study has its limitations, such as the lack of a standard format for assessing patient-reported outcomes, which would be better to assess its range of changes when combined with other tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The woman said that she had been annoyed by the symptoms of the long COVID for a long time. Although she has never tried acupuncture, she was open to any possible treatments. She said that she was amazed by the physical changes she felt immediately after the first acupuncture and the rapid recovery of her health. “Not only did acupuncture make my body feel better, it also gave me hope. I could finally recover from my long COVID symptoms.”