Ways Diet and Acupuncture Can Treat Long Covid

Ways Diet and Acupuncture Can Treat Long Covid

Many people have felt frustrated by the limited results from Western medicine and instead long Covid patients have been increasingly turning to other options. In terms of alternatives, acupuncture has been at the top of the list for a variety of reasons. It’s been favoured largely because it can provide relief for a range of symptoms including fatigue, headaches and muscle pain. Probably the two most common symptoms of long Covid we’ve seen in our patients here at Treat include fatigue and headaches. 

Acupuncture and Chronic Fatigue Symptoms
If you or a loved one has been feeling exhausted for months without improvement after a bout of Covid, it may be time to consider trying acupuncture which can help relieve fatigue, low mood, mental fogginess, poor sleep and other symptoms. 

Even long before Covid was on our shores, in 2015, Korean clinicians conducted research exploring how adding acupuncture to routine medical care can help improve symptoms in people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The research* proved that those who received acupuncture received significantly lower fatigue scores compared to the control group. Stress and depression scores were also significantly lower.

Ultimately fatigue is fatigue – and the prolong tiredness felt during long Covid is comparable to CFS. In 2019, a Chinese study** also demonstrated that acupuncture is more effective than other interventions for CFS. Results from several other studies also favoured the effect of acupuncture on reducing fatigue severity and showed that acupuncture was more effective than orthodox medicine and other typical treatments. 

Acupuncture and Post Covid Headaches
Did you know…NICE (the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) recommends acupuncture for the treatment of headaches? They agree that acupuncture is a good way to prevent tension-type headaches and migraine. NICE also estimates that overuse of painkillers can actually cause further headaches and this affects around one in fifty people. Taking paracetamol or anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen for more than 15 days in a month, can create a vicious cycle where headaches become worse, so sufferers take more painkillers, which lead to even worse headaches *** For someone suffering with ongoing headaches after Covid-19, it’s therefore very important not to overuse painkillers.

Other additional trials and studies also concur that there is now consistent evidence that acupuncture provides additional benefit in treating acute migraines and headaches. Studies show that acupuncture should be considered as a treatment option for migraine patients. In the study****, the number of headache days was reduced by at least 50% in 47% of patients who received acupuncture plus basic care, compared to 16% experiencing a 50% reduction in the number with basic care alone. 

Case Study: How Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Can Help Long Covid
The type of diet recommended for post-viral symptoms such as long Covid includes some fundamental basics such as including warm foods in your diet, limiting raw foods, adding plenty of veg and avoiding sugar and spices. The diet can be quite bland in flavour so the digestion doesn't have to work overtime and therefore the body's energies can go more to healing rather than the digestion.

There’s more about how you can use Chinese medicine and healthy eating in this resource

Founder of Treat and acupuncturist, Rebecca Geanty used traditional Chinese medicine to help her with diet when she tested positive for Covid a few months ago. As an acupuncturist she is also trained in Chinese dietetics. During your acupuncture appointment, Rebecca can also advise on what type of foods can help you to improve your symptoms. 

In addition to making dietary changes, as mentioned previously, acupuncture can also be a great way to get rid of lingering headaches and give you a boost. Rebecca said, “Acupuncture really supported my energy levels during Covid. I would never recommend self-administer acupuncture nor would it be possible for a patient to come into our clinic for acupuncture while they have symptoms of Covid, however, acupuncture can be extremely beneficially as soon as you start testing negative.” 

“During and after my experience of Covid, I placed a few points in my chest into the lung meridian, which felt warm. These points went red which indicates an increased blood flow which promotes healing.”

Above Rebecca mentions the lung meridian - here she is referring to the meridians we use in acupuncture. A meridian is like an energetic highway in the human body, which allow a flow of energy, also known as Qi (pronounced “chi”), to move freely throughout the body. These ‘energetic highways’ flow in different parts of the body and can be accessed through acupuncture needles or even touch.

Rebecca’s colleague (another one of our in-house acupuncturists) also suffered from chronic daily headaches after having Covid, and through using a series of treatment points under the back of her head, this really helped to relieve her headache symptoms too. 

We’ve also treated a range of other patients for long Covid and post-Covid symptoms and feedback tells us, acupuncture assists in recovery, improves fatigue, reduces headaches and generally assists in boosting immunity and feeling well again.

GPs Recommend Acupuncture
Your GP can recommend you to an acupuncturist who is registered with The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC). Here at Treat, we’re on the accredited register, regulated and approved by Professional Standards Authority for Health & Social Care (PSA). The PSA protects the public by overseeing the regulation and registration of healthcare professionals- including statutorily regulated professions, such as nursing and Midwifery and Accredited Registers like the BAcC. This offers a quality mark for high standards of training, safe practice and professional conduct.   

*Acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26211002
** Acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. 2019 Aug;37(4):211-222
*** Headaches: diagnosis and management of headaches in young people and adults. NICE Clinical guidelines, CG150: Sept 2012, http://publications.nice.org.uk/headaches-cg150/guidance).
**** Acupuncture for tension-type headache. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD007587).

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