September 1, 2022

Healing Long Covid

It is now becoming evident that many people who have had a Covid infection are having symptoms that go on for months, or even years. Long Covid is widely defined as symptoms that continue for more than 3 months, but for some people they go on even longer.

The ONS (Office of National Statistics) estimates that in January 2022 1.3 million people in the UK were experiencing long Covid. Clearly this is a problem affecting many people, with unpleasant and sometimes debilitating effects.

This has brought up big questions like,

“Why do some people get long Covid and others not.”

“Why do people get very different symptoms, ranging from headaches, through fatigue and brain fog, to digestive problems and heart and breathing problems?”

“How can people with long Covid be helped to get relief from the symptoms, and get back to their normal lives?”

Western science is beginning to find some clues in answering these questions, which may lead to offering some help in time through Western medicine.

On the other hand macrobiotics and Oriental medicine, with it’s in depth understanding of health and healing, can offer practical help to those who are suffering now.

Why do some people get long Covid, and others not?

This depends on the strength of a person’s health, including the immune system, before getting the virus. When our health is strong and balanced, we are less likely to pick up infections, or if we do get an infection such as a cold or flu, we will get less severe symptoms, that may also clear up faster.

The mystery for western medicine is that its approach to health, while incredibly useful in many situations, has a poor understanding of health. In reading about Covid, it is commonly said that there is surprise that people that are healthy have developed serious symptoms on getting infected. But the definition of health generally being used, is that the person has no obvious symptoms or signs of illness. This is a very crude measure of health!

Many people who are “healthy” according to this definition one day, find the next day they have had a heart attack, a stroke, get severe arthritic pain, an embolism, or other moderate to serious or even fatal health problem. Obviously the day before they were not healthy!

The macrobiotic explanation as to why some people get more serious symptoms on catching Covid and others not, or some develop long term symptoms and others not, is that some people’s health is stronger, and others weaker. Unfortunately those that have weaker health and more poorly functioning organs and body functions, will get the more serious or more prolonged symptoms.

Why do people get different symptoms?

Because different people have different areas of weakness in the body. If a person has a big weakness in their lungs, they are much more likely to have lung related long Covid symptoms such as breathlessness (the feeling of not being able to take a big breath) or easily getting out of breath, feeling tightness or pain in their chest (please note that if you have any marked chest pains, you should see your doctor as there is a chance this could be a serious heart problem), a cough that does not go away, a loss of smell, being easily irritated by pollen, cat hairs etc. i.e. having hay fever or allergies to airborne particles. Also feelings of being trapped in feeling low, depressed, hopelessness or despair. Or having a chronic problem like asthma or bronchitis.

If a person already had low energy reserves, from over work, prolonged stress, illness or whatever, then the extra energy needed to counter an attack by a virus is not there, and instead of the body overcoming the virus, it may persist in the body. And also because the body originally was low in energy, the extra energy needed to fight the virus leaves a person exhausted and suffering from fatigue. And also suffering with other symptoms that come from depleted energy such as brain fog (a lack of energy for the brain to function properly) slow reactions, poor sleep, and increased fearfulness, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, even by simple things that were never a problem before.

When a person has some weakness or problems in their heart and circulation, then during or post Covid infection, they are more likely to suffer from heart palpitations (a thumping, rapid or otherwise more noticeable heart beat) deeper pain in the chest, unusual sweating, feelings of anxiety or panic in the heart, and feeling disconnected from other people or being unable to work through emotions in the heart.

If a person is holding a lot of tension in their body (as many of us are!) when they get Covid, then they are much more likely to suffer intense ‘tension headaches’. These may also continue and become a symptom of long Covid. In Oriental medicine this is most often a sign of a Liver imbalance. Similarly this person may also get aches and pains in their muscles and joints.

So we can see that the reason why different people get different long Covid symptoms is the state of their health before catching the virus. Naturally, we are all different, with different lifestyles and habits, emotions etc. which impact the body in different ways, for example affecting different organs. And so we all have different weak points, and it is these weaker areas where we are most likely to get symptoms following an infection.

How can people with long Covid get relief from their symptoms, and get back to their normal lives?

The way macrobiotics can help with this, is through its detailed understanding of how to support and increase the health of specific organs and systems in the body. Whereas the western scientific approach to diet and health has focused on giving broad recommendations for everyone, such as ‘eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day’, or ‘eat less meat and more vegetable sources of protein’, Oriental medicine and macrobiotics has a wealth of knowledge and experience on how to tailor one’s food and lifestyle to help specific organs.

So if there is a big weakness in the lungs, macrobiotics then offers a range of foods that tend to weaken lung function to reduce or eliminate from one’s diet, and to eat more of other foods that strengthen the lungs. Further it offers specific natural medicinal drinks, possibly a traditional compress, and simple exercises to promote lung health.

And the same if there is weakness or poor health in the heart and circulation, energy reserves in the body, liver, digestive system etc. then there are specific things we can do ourselves to promote health in these areas, and speed up our recovery.

Watch Oliver’s latest talk on healing Long Covid here: