Some long-term Covid patients became frustrated by the lack of success from Western medicine and turned to Eastern remedies. Many people claim that acupuncture has been the most effective treatment.
Lauren Nichols, a Massachusetts resident, was diagnosed with Covid in March 2020. She estimated that she tried over 30 different medications to relieve her symptoms, including migraines, brain fog, and fatigue.
Soon, her physical limitations and inability to find answers became so overwhelming that she began to consider suicide.
She said, “I was very close” to not being in the world.
Nichols stated that three months after starting acupuncture in May 2022 Nichols could “see the clouds beginning to part.”
“Instead of having migraines four to six times per day at their worst, I was experiencing migraines approximately two times per day. She said that eventually, it was only one per day. Nichols stated that the majority of symptoms, including migraines, have been resolved by a combination of alternative therapies.
According to data from the household survey, approximately 11% of Americans who had ever experienced Covid in February were suffering from long Covid. A long Covid is a condition in which symptoms last for at least three months following a coronavirus-related infection.
There is no one-size fits all treatment. Doctors often prescribe medication based on the individual’s symptoms. Long Covid patients may take steroids while others might use antiviral drugs, medications that treat seizures, high blood pressure, or muscle weakness.
It’s not always easy for patients to find relief, even though doctors readily admit it.
“There’s been an unfortunate trend of long Covid patients not feeling they’re getting the right treatment or trying all these medications and it not getting them the results they want,” Dr. Meenakshi “Cosmos” Kumar, a family medicine specialist at Beth Israel Lahey Health Primary Care –The Marino Center for Integrated Health, stated.
Kumar, who is a Nichols patient, stated that they often recommend acupuncture for long-term Covid patients even though there aren’t any clinical data.
However, some research is ongoing. The U.K. has launched a clinical trial that gives people with long Covid acupuncture treatment cycles for 15 minutes every week. It also offers a control group of “semi-structured” phone consultations with a clinician.
Dr. Imogen Locke is a London-based clinical oncologist and she is leading the study. She said that full results are not expected until 2025. Locke stated that the participants who have received acupuncture so far seem to be responding.
She said, “Obviously, we must wait until the data is unlocked.”
It Is Difficult To Study The Effects Of Acupuncture.
Elizabeth Joyce, a Therapeutic Radiographer at the Royal Marsden Hospital said that she was able to enter Locke’s trial because of nearly two years of Covid.
She said, “I just had this terrible muscle fatigue as if I’d run like 4 marathons in one day.”
Joyce felt energetic enough to run after three weeks of acupuncture. Joyce continued to receive acupuncture after the trial and said that her muscle fatigue was almost gone.
Locke pointed out, however, that there are challenges to studies like hers. Some research suggests that acupuncture may help decrease chronic pain, fatigue, and inflammation. However, those who receive a placebo in such studies are aware that the needles do not penetrate their skin.
“Is there any solid evidence for acupuncture?” Locke stated that there is no evidence base for acupuncture due to the methodological and technical challenges involved in acupuncture research.
Doctors worry that patients are more likely to be taken advantage of by predatory providers if they don’t receive long-term Covid treatment.
“Many people prey on their despair by offering strategies that haven’t really been tested and in some instances can be dangerous or expensive,” stated Dr. Harlan Krumholz at Yale University, a cardiologist and scientist.
Krumholz stated that it is not clear why certain patients respond to Eastern therapies.
“They might be benefiting from a placebo effect. He said that they may be getting benefits from a placebo effect, but at this point, if it makes people feel better, it’s still making their lives better.”
Michelle Haddad, who runs an Emory Rehabilitation Hospital post-Covid neuropsychology center, said that there are sometimes side effects to other therapies.
People often think that it’s herbs or a nutrient. It shouldn’t cause harm to me. She said that it was important for people to keep their providers informed.
Acupuncture Is A Favorite Of Many Long-Term Covid Patients.
Rachel Villalobos lives in Seaside in California and decided to try acupuncture after suffering from high blood pressure, and headaches. dizziness, chest pains, chest pain, heart palpitations, and dark spots in her eyes. These were all symptoms of a Covid infection that occurred in January 2022.
Villalobos gave birth while she was positive for Covid. She then visited the emergency room several months later after fainting at her friend’s barbecue. She was eventually diagnosed with postural orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a neurological disorder that causes difficulty in staying upright.
Villalobos stated, “I would just pass out.” “I couldn’t get up. I could not walk up the steps to our house as I would fall over. After a while, my head couldn’t hold up.
Villalobos stated that she used blood pressure medication, a steroid, and over-the-counter painkillers, as well as Benadryl.
She said that acupuncture helped her feel calmer. She said that her heart palpitations stopped.
Christine Kaiser, the Ohio University Hospitals Connor Whole Health clinical manager for acupuncture quality and acupuncture, stated that at least 75% of her Covid patients had experienced positive results from acupuncture, despite being hesitant to try it.
“They are frustrated and a little skeptical. They’ve tried so many different things. What’s this going to work? She said that they were willing to try it.
Kaiser said that Covid symptoms were very similar to the one’s practitioners treated with acupuncture prior to the pandemic.
Acupuncture decreases inflammation. She said that it regulates the autonomic nervous systems, increases blood flow, and releases neurochemicals into the brain.
Combination Of Approaches
Patients with long-term covid usually have acupuncture along with other treatments, such as medication or supplements.
Villalobos uses ashwagandha as an herbal in traditional Indian medicine. Nichols is treated with intravenous oxygen therapy and ultraviolet blood radiation. Nichols also receives naltrexone to treat opioid addiction disorder. Initial research suggests that it might help to temper an overactive immune reaction.
Alisa Bolling is a retired Parkland nurse who said she used to bounce from one doctor to the next looking for Covid treatments. She now uses meditation, acupuncture, and a supplement that has Boswellia. This herbal extract is used in traditional Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian medicine.
Bolling stated, “It sounds insane, but it works.” “It was exhausting as a nurse.
Kumar suggested that a combination of adaptogenic herbs and turmeric may be recommended depending on the patient’s needs. Access to Eastern medicine can be difficult because it can be costly and not covered by insurance. Kumar stated that most long-term Covid patients at Beth Israel Lahey Health were white women.
Prescription drugs and specialist visits can also be expensive.
Nichols estimates that she spent between $30,000 and $40,000 before she tried acupuncture.
She stated, “I would rather have spent that much money on these [alternative] therapies because they are actually more curative and supportive.” “The Western treatment has been nothing but a waste.”