How Acupuncture and Herbs can help you with Long-Covid

How acupuncture and herbs can help you with long Covid

Despite the global effort on combating the spread of Covid-19, there are many who continue to experience Covid-like symptoms which persist for weeks or even months.  Some medical experts have defined this phenomenon as “long Covid” [1], and it can include the following symptoms:

Fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, joint pain, chest pain, cough, nasal/sinus congestion, runny nose, memory, concentration, or sleep problems, muscle pain or headache, palpitations, lack of appetite, vertigo, dizziness, diarrhea, phlegm production [2]

If you have these prolonged symptoms and feel helpless and are unable to function, then we may be able to help you! Typically patients experience improvement within the first session through the use of acupuncture and/or herbs, and most long Covid-related issues require up to 3 visits to resolve, or at least to experience significant improvement.

How did I end up with long Covid?

There isn’t a proven explanation at the moment.  However, a study published in the British Medical Journal in July 2020 revealed that patients who develop a specific set of severe Covid symptoms (including headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue) are more likely to make hospital visits, which may help differentiate between severity in symptoms [3].

Despite Covid being novel, there have been records of historical disease outbreaks in Traditional Chinese Medicine literature, as well as treatment records regarding respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms which patients with long Covid may also exhibit.  These records offer some insight into differentiation and treatment. 

The 金匱要略 (Jingui Yaolüe), one of the four canons in TCM literature, states that individuals with 飲 (rheum, or fluid resembling phlegm) may exhibit symptoms such as coughing, breathlessness, palpitations, fullness under the ribs, and/or lack of thirst, depending on the location of trapped rheum.  Various assessment methods exist with regards to determining the source of rheum, with the general principle of dispersing rheum with warming herbs or qi dispersing needle techniques.

How can acupuncture and herbs help me?

TCM/acupuncture treatments do not focus on eliminating pathogenic elements from the body, and there is no single herb or acupoint which targets Covid specifically.  Instead, your symptoms are categorized into patterns, and the patterns are then treated with appropriate acupuncture points or herbs in order to relieve symptoms.  However, within this collaborative process, it is important for patients to be mindful of their symptoms and be as descriptive as possible to the practitioner.  

For example, if I were treating a long Covid patient with persistent coughing, I'd want to know whether the cough is wet or dry, or whether it is worse during the day or night.  This is important because while a wet cough may indicate phlegm as the primary issue underlying the cough, a dry cough may indicate deficiency of the patient.  Both cases would require different treatment, so the better the patient is able to describe their symptoms, the better the treatment outcome will be.

To begin recovery in your struggle against long Covid symptoms, contact Vaughan Physiotherapy today to book a consultation with Rob.

About the author

Robert Yu-Sheng Tan is an experienced acupuncturist and TCM practitioner with clinical experience in both Canada and China. He has lectured at the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has translated acupuncture textbooks, and is a published author of peer-reviewed articles. His clinical belief in working with patients is that “there is always a solution to a problem, it just depends on how hard you look for it”.





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