In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals are grappling with the lingering effects of the virus long after their initial infection has resolved. Known as long COVID or post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), these persistent symptoms can range from fatigue and brain fog to respiratory issues and joint pain. While conventional treatments may offer limited relief, acupuncture and Chinese medicine may provide promising avenues for managing and alleviating long COVID symptoms.

Acupuncture, an integral component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), has been practiced for thousands of years and is renowned for its ability to restore balance and promote healing within the body. By stimulating specific points along the body’s energy pathways, known as meridians, acupuncture aims to regulate the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, and restore harmony to the body’s systems. This holistic approach to healthcare offers a unique perspective on treating the complex array of symptoms associated with long COVID.

One of the hallmark symptoms of long COVID is persistent fatigue, which can significantly impact daily functioning and quality of life. Acupuncture has shown promising results in addressing fatigue by aiming to enhance energy levels, improve circulation, and supporting resistance to fatigue. By targeting key acupuncture points associated with the spleen, kidney, and lung meridians, acupuncture treatments can help replenish Qi and nourish the body’s vital energy reserves, leading to increased vitality and resilience.

In addition to fatigue, many individuals with long COVID experience cognitive difficulties commonly referred to as “brain fog.” This cognitive impairment can manifest as memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and mental sluggishness. Acupuncture has in some studies been shown to enhance cognitive function by promoting cerebral blood flow, modulating neurotransmitter activity, and reducing inflammation in the brain. Some examples are in this study on post stroke  and also    By stimulating specific acupuncture points associated with mental clarity and cognitive function, acupuncture treatments aim to help clear away the fog and sharpen mental acuity.

Respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and chest tightness, are also prevalent among individuals with long COVID, particularly those who experienced severe respiratory complications during the acute phase of the illness. Acupuncture offers a multifaceted approach to respiratory health by promoting relaxation of the respiratory muscles, reducing inflammation in the airways, and enhancing lung function. By targeting acupuncture points along the lung and spleen meridians, acupuncture treatments aim to help open the airways, improve oxygenation, and alleviate respiratory distress.

Joint pain, muscle aches, and inflammation are common complaints among individuals with long COVID, often resulting from systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation. Acupuncture offers effective pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects thought to occur by stimulating the release of endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters that modulate pain perception and regulate immune function. By targeting acupuncture points associated with pain relief and tissue repair, acupuncture treatments may help reduce inflammation, alleviate discomfort, and restore mobility to affected joints and muscles.

Digestive disturbances, such as nausea, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain, are frequently reported by individuals with long COVID and may stem from gastrointestinal inflammation, dysbiosis, or autonomic dysfunction. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offer gentle yet effective solutions for restoring digestive health by aiming to regulate peristalsis, balancing gut microbiota, and harmonizing the digestive organs. By targeting acupuncture points associated with the stomach, spleen, and large intestine meridians, acupuncture treatments can help alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms, promote regularity, and support overall digestive function.

In addition to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine plays a vital role in the treatment of long COVID by providing targeted support for specific symptoms and underlying imbalances. Herbal formulations tailored to individual constitution and symptomatology can help address a wide range of long COVID symptoms, from fatigue and cognitive impairment to respiratory issues and immune dysfunction. By combining acupuncture with Chinese herbal medicine, practitioners can offer comprehensive and personalized care that addresses the unique needs of each patient.

It’s important to note that acupuncture and Chinese medicine are not standalone treatments for long COVID but rather integral components of a multidisciplinary approach to care. Collaborative efforts between acupuncture practitioners, primary care physicians, and other healthcare providers can help ensure comprehensive management of long COVID symptoms and optimize patient outcomes.

As we navigate the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer hope and healing for individuals struggling with long COVID symptoms. By harnessing the ancient wisdom and therapeutic principles of TCM, we can unlock relief and restoration for those affected by this complex and debilitating condition.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer a holistic and integrative approach to managing long COVID symptoms, addressing the underlying imbalances and promoting healing from within. With their gentle yet potent effects on the body, mind, and spirit, acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide a beacon of hope for individuals seeking relief and recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Principle Practitioner at Authentic Acupuncture in Balmain, Brendan C. Meek, has 25 years experience in the field of Traditional Chinese medicine and Acupuncture. Post viral fatigue is a common symptom treated at his clinic and even more so since COVID 19 in the form of Long COVID symptoms. If you’re looking for a way out of Long COVID and relief from symptoms that just have not seemed to go away, consider Authentic Acupuncture in Balmain. Call us on (02) 9188 1560 or make an email inquiry on the home page here

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