Years have now passed and the lingering effects of Covid are still apparent in the lives of many. In my clinic, in the community, and on the news, there are many stories about long haul and persistent effects of Covid. The light is shining on these cases, but at the same time, the people experiencing the symptoms are not given guidance on how to heal. Lingering effects of long haul Covid can present in many ways with symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, mental fog, pins and needles feeling in hands and feet, pain, loss of smell or taste, hair loss, depression/ anxiety, and more.
As an integrative practitioner, I blend the world of western and holistic medicine and try to find the root cause of issues. Medications and other therapies can be helpful, but most of the time they are Band-Aids for larger issues that need to be addressed. With long haul Covid, there is no difference. When our body has a viral attack, it can open up a ‘can of worms’ and stir around other pathogens, heavy metals, toxins and molds that were being monitored by the immune system. The disruption of the immune system by something like Covid, can send our bodies into overdrive, creating an imbalance that our immune system can no longer keep under control. Symptoms like the ones I mentioned earlier, arise and linger until the body can start removing pathogens, toxins and other burdens it is facing.
There are a few treatments that have been studied and are shown to have positive outcomes. I will list a few things you can start doing proactively to help your body detox while simultaneously strengthening your immune system.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): A randomized control trial published July 12th, 2022 by Zilberman-Itskovich et al., showed significant cognitive improvements, mental clarity, enhanced energy and decreased pain in patients that received 40 days of HBOT. Brain MRI results also showed marked improvements in perfusion and microvascular changes. I recommend starting with at least ten 60-minute sessions and see how you feel.
IV (intravenous) Infusion Therapy: I have been coupling HBOT and IV therapy with my long haul Covid patients. At our clinic we infuse IV nutrients and other modalities to help speed the healing process, this coupled with the high pressure and oxygen from the HBOT gives the body an enhanced effect of these therapies.
Move your lymph! Our lymph helps remove toxins and support the immune system. Since most Americans have sedentary jobs and lifestyles, the typical waves of lymph that should be frequently moved throughout our bodies become stagnant and accumulate, causing a buildup of toxins. There are affordable ways to move lymph such as yoga, deep belly breathing and dry brushing. There are also compression devices and lymph massages by specialized massage therapists or physical/occupational therapist (this can be covered by insurance if you qualify). Always drinking enough fluids help move lymph as well.
Take a bath! Epsom Salt baths contain magnesium sulfate which can help dilate blood vessels allowing your body to detox. Magnesium is also relaxing so it can help with sleep. I recommend 2 cups Epsom Salts + 1/4 cup baking soda + a few drops of your favorite pure essential oil at least 3-5x/week.
Sit in a sauna! Sweating, heat opens the bodies detox pathways. Infrared saunas can get into the tissues most effectively so I prefer these vs the steam saunas, but either way sweating is the ultimate goal! I tell my patients to do this 4-5x/week and the goal is to “sweat like a faucet” x5-10 minutes. It can take 30-60 min. to get to this point of sweating but that’s where the best detox happens. If you haven’t used a sauna before or you are sick, go slow, listen to your body and don’t overdo it to a point of dehydration or exhaustion. Work up to your sweating goals and don’t forget to drink a lot of electrolyte water.
Increase your water intake! Water is hydrating to the cells, in order to push out toxins, we need to be well hydrated. When drinking water, use some sort of electrolytes or minerals to help water absorb most effectively. I like taking 1/4 tsp of sea salt in the morning before my water intake, it can help your adrenals and energy levels. High quality sea salt (not highly processed salt like table salt) provides minerals that can help rehydrate on a cellular level. You can add it to your water and drink throughout the day. Or you can head to a health food store and get some clean flavored electrolytes to add to your drinking water.
Poop every day! Having bowel movements help effectively eliminate toxins. Western Medicine will define constipation as 3x/week (or less). But, in the integrative world, we see bowels as toxins and having a bowel movement every day is helpful to usher toxins out of the body, especially when you are going through acute or long-term illness. If your bowels are not moving regularly, try using magnesium or vitamin C. I recommend avoiding chemical stimulants like MiraLAX because they tend to lead to other problems (including psychiatric side effects) and are not studied for long term use.
There is hope for healing and regaining strength, energy, vitality and more after a Covid diagnosis. Start making little changes today and continue to heal. Remember, it can be a marathon vs a sprint, so give yourself time and grace.
As always, this information is not intended to replace the medical advice by your primary care provider. Also, remember that there is always a deeper cause to symptoms, so keep asking “why” and find the root cause to your health.
Stephanie, ARNP, FNP-C
Owner of Balance Integrative Health & Wellness and Vive IV Therapy in Dubuque, Iowa