When I was in acupuncture college, we learnt that our own health challenges and illnesses would prepare us to become better, and more compassionate practitioners. During the last year, I have treated many patients with lingering symptoms after they had recovered from a COVID infection. From brain fog, fatigue and persistent cough to loss of smell and taste, chronic headaches and depression, I saw what the virus could leave in its wake. Treatments have helped in many cases and often restored strength and stamina, reduced pain and lifted the mood after only a few sessions
Yet, while I had followed the science on COVID, and felt for my patients, I could not really put myself in their shoes……that is until last Monday, when I tested positive and experienced what so many had described during intakes.
After the initial symptoms showed up, I immediately treated myself with Ivermectin which helped body aches and headache to subside quickly. I was left with the debilitating fatigue, cough and some digestive issues, but was able to recover at home.
On day 10, the cough (like for many) is annoying and persistent, but energy has returned and my doctor has assured me that I am on the road to recovery. This experience, however, led me to take a deep dive into understanding the virus better and also learn from reputable sources, how recovery can be supported and post-COVID symptoms can be mitigated. The reality is that many people who recover from the acute illness are left with symptoms that last for weeks or months and may fluctuate from day to day.
What I found out came as no surprise and lent credence to Hippocrates, father of medicine, who said:
“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food”.
During the pandemic, Scientists at John Hopkins, Stanford, Harvard and Columbia examined the impact of pre-covid dietary patterns on the severity of Covid-19 in health workers from 6 countries. They controlled for multiple variables and contrasted people with mild or very mild Covid-19 to those with moderate or severe disease. While diet had no impact on who got infected it showed that a 40% increase in vegetable consumption produced a 72% decrease in the likelihood of severe or moderately severe infection.
The study further showed that people eating more vegetables were eating more beans and nuts and happened to be eating less sugar, but sugar is not what made the difference. A group of health-care workers eating a low carbohydrate high protein diet, which had no added sugar but fewer vegetables and more red meat and poultry, had a risk of being sicker that was almost 4 times as high as people whose diet was described as plant-based. The plant-based diet was not a true vegan diet. It included fish, eggs and dairy products, even a little meat and poultry.
It just had more vegetables, about 4- 5 additional servings a week, with beans, nuts and seeds replacing meat and poultry.
There are many reasons why diets high in vegetables may limit severity of Covid-19. For one, they are naturally anti-inflammatory. Second,they are high in fiber and in polyphenols – natural plant-derived anti-oxidants and lastly, they help to create a healthier population of gut bacteria which also plays a role in the disease development of COVID 19.
The polyphenols found in vegetables, herbs and spices also increase activity of a vital enzyme called ACE-2, which is depleted by Covid-19 and the depletion of this enzyme seems to be responsible for disease severity, excessive inflammation and complications including, pneumonia, heart failure, blood clots, kidney failure, strokes, brain fog, purple toes, and loss of lymphocytes. To restore and enhance ACE-2, Dr. Galland, (a New York based internist who has been treating COVID patients successfully since the beginning of the pandemic and who has collected important research and published “The Corona Virus Guide – Work in Progress”) recommends the following nutraceuticals and foods:
1. Vitamin D – essential for normal ACE 2 function. The dose will vary from person to person and it is best to have vitamin D levels tested to get a baseline.
2. Curcumin – a set of flavonoids found in turmeric reduces inflammation and enhances ACE-2
3. Resveratrol – offers a number of beneficial effects on corona virus infection beyond ACE-2 support. It inhibits the growth of SARS-COV-2 and it diminishes the kind of inflammation associated with this viral infection.
4. Andrographis paniculata – an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine and Aryuveda and Luteolin, a bioflavenoid found in celery, thyme, green peppers, and tea – have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects that have been demonstrated in clinical trials.
For more information and if you are interested in learning more about he mechanisms and treatments of COVID, check out Dr. Galland’s website and his Coronavirus Guide at HYPERLINK “http://www.drgalland.com”www.drgalland.com.
In the meantime, I am adjusting my diet and following the Galland protocol so that I can find out first hand what works and how – and by doing so, can better help my patients with their COVID recovery in the future!
Of course, I also rely on acupuncture to help my body get back into a healthy balance and treat myself as best as I can!
So the moral of this blog is – eat you veggies and get acupuncture!