Long COVID or “COVID long haulers” and post-COVID vaccine injury are two new “disease” presentations that thousands of people find themselves searching for answers to, with little to no resolve or treatment options on Dr. Google or at their doctor’s office.
Unfortunately, these are two very real conditions that no doctor on the frontlines was taught about in medical school.
Nevertheless, for many health detectives, scientists and functional medicine experts who are familiar with the chronic illness, the symptoms and side effects of COVID long haulers and COVID vaccine injury are nothing new.
- Immune up-regulation.
- Mast cell activation.
- Latent virus activation.
- Gut dysbiosis
Just to name a few.
And although we don’t have “all the answers” yet, we do have several therapies available that, anecdotally and clinically are working to help individuals not only feel better, but recover their health from “COVID long haulers” syndrome and COVID vaccine injury.
Let’s review why Long COVID and COVID vaccine reactions, or injuries, occur, and the therapies that are helping people clinically improve.
Signs & Symptoms of Long COVID & COVID Vaccine Injury
- Blood clotting
- Brain fog
- Difficulty concentrating
- GI distress (IBS, nausea, cramping)
- Loss of taste and smell
- Menstrual irregularities
- “Not feeling like myself”
- “Pins and needles” in feet, legs, hands, etc.
- Sensory Sensitivities (light, sound, smell, touch)
- Short term memory loss
Why Long COVID & Vaccine Injury Happens in Some…But Not Others
No two people are alike. This we know. However, why does it seem like some people get hit really.
Early research hints that genetics do play a role.
In the clinic, we also have observed that previously undetected Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Lyme disease, circulating toxins, underlying latent viruses and microbial imbalance may also have something (a big something) to do with it. After all, why is it that anti-parasitic drugs like ivermectin and hydrochloroquin have clinically helped many in recovery? The gut microbiome may have something to do with it—the place where the immune system is housed.
Long haulers and vaccine injured patients also present with elevated blood levels of inflammatory proteins, including IFN-γ, IL-6, and TNF-α, which is elevated during acute infection, leading to progression into persistent chronic inflammation. Why do some people get inflamed more than others? That answer also comes down to the patient’s original pre-disposition before getting sick or the vaccine.
Did they have an underlying infection? Mast cell activation? Mold, heavy metals, candida, metabolic endotoxemia or parasites? Autoimmunity? Were they metabolically healthy—or experiencing hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia on a regular basis? A significant amount of stress going on?
If vaccine injured, there’s also a likelihood that the patient was administered a “bad lot”—extra fillers, additives or extra mRNA that the body responded negatively.
While there is no one answer, but there is a good chance that there is/was something underneath the illness or vaccine.
14 Therapies for Long COVID Long Haulers & COVID Vaccine Injury
There are several therapies emerging in clinical practice to help patients recover there health like these 15—in no particular order.
#1. Zinc Ionophores
Zinc ionophores are compounds that help prevent the COVID spike protein from transmitting cells by binding to the spike protein itself, aiding in elimination by the host. Zinc ionophores should be considered first line therapies and include:
- Phytosome quercetin
- Green tea extract (ECGc)
- Black cumin seed oil (Nigella sativa) + aqueous zinc
- Ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine
Of particular interest and benefit is Ivermectin—an anti-parasitic drug prescribed by a medical professional, often used in lyme and environmental illness—has inadvertently become a shining superstar in the COVID treatment space.
There are not over 70 controlled trials—31 randomized and 16 double-blind prospective randomized controlled trials using the therapy in COVID with notable improvements in fatigue, chest tightness, cough, fever, brain fog and sore throat. Patients who are languishing or worsening suddenly change their clinical trajectory to one of rapid improvement.
Unfortunately, the “war on ivermectin” has poised some controversy in the medical arena as the pharmaceutical companies push expensive drugs and “novel vaccines”, which has prevented many people from hearing about this therapy.
#2. Fasting & Intermittent Fasting
Fasting promotes cellular “autophagy” — cellular turnover and replenishment, removing damaged cells and mitochondria and clearing out mis-folded proteins (like altered cells from vaccines). Intermittent fasting also has a profound effect on promoting immune system homeostasis and may play a role in promoting the breakdown and elimination of spike proteins.
Fasting is contraindicated in children under age 18, pregnancy, eating disorders and individuals with diabetes or dysglycemia (hypoglycemic episodes) should consult their doctor prior to initiating it. A 24 to 72 hour water and bone broth fast may be beneficial if a patient is not feeling better, followed by a daily practice of intermittent fasting (ie. 12-16 hours of not eating, followed by a 8 to 12 hour eating window). This is easily accomplished from dinner to the next day’s breakfast or mid-day meal (ie. 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. would be a great fasting window).
#3. High Dose Vitamin C & IV Vitamin C
The age-old immune booster shines again with its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Take in liposomal, buffered or IV form, up to 4000-5000 mg per day, and higher if patients are symptomatic and/or not improving.
A typical IV Vitamin C dose for a “boost” is 10 to 65 grams, and typically patients will need a blood test confirming that they do not have a G6PD Deficiency, which makes IV Vitamin C (over 20 grams) toxic to their body.
#4. Vitamin D
It is well known that vitamin D deficiency poor outcomes and higher likelihood of contracting COVID-19 The studies demonstrating this now number over 140 repeatedly showing worse outcomes with vitamin D deficiency and greatly outcomes with Vitamin D. Zero mortalities have been observed in individuals with a vitamin D above 50 ng/mL. The best way to get in Vitamin D? Fresh air and sunlight of course!
Note: Some people are over-supplementing with Vitamin D. A healthy Vitamin D threshold is no greater than 60-100 ng/mL. Above that, Vitamin D toxicity is indicated. A therapeutic dose of Vitamin D is 5000-10,000 IU/daily until levels are between 50-70 ng/mL. After that, a maintenance dose of 5000-10,000 IU/week is typically sufficient, and/or daily supplementation with extra virgin cod liver oil (a natural Vitamin D nutrient source).
#5. Gut Reset: Triple Probiotic Therapy + Pre-biotics + Gut Loving Diet
70-80% of your immune system is in your gut, so it’s no surprise that COVID-19 disease severity is significantly related to the state of the microbiome. The gut-COVID connection also explains why older adults and patients with preexisting conditions (like diabetes and obesity) are more at risk for severe COVID—these are two states characterized by preceding dysbiosis (gut imbalance).
Compared to healthy controls, patients with COVID-19 have insufficiency dysbiosis (ie. missing and depleted gut microbes) up to 30 days after the disease. Moreover, their perturbed microbiomes also contain a composition linked to elevated concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers like C reactive protein. In patients with long haulers and vaccine injury, this presentation continues. Dysbiosis leads to a “leaky gut” or “intestinal permeability” which then allows access to bacterial products and toxins into the circulatory system and further exacerbates the systemic inflammatory response.
Given the association between gut dysbiosis and COVID-19 severity, the therapeutic potential for modulation of the gut microbiome to modify disease outcomes and heal is promising.
Enter: probiotics, probiotics and a gut-loving diet.
Prebiotics are fibers found in vegetables, some fruits, select grains (like cooked and cooled rice and gluten free overnight oats) and supplements that promote the growth of healthy bacteria and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), while decreasing the proportion of harmful species. And probiotics are live bacteria of specific species that alter the composition of gut microbiota after reaching the intestines, hence if dysbiosis is involved in the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19, probiotics—both in supplements and foods—are among the more convenient, efficient, and potentially safe strategies.
In clinical practice, triple probiotic therapy plus prebiotic fiber supplementation plus a “total gut reset” diet should be mainstays as the jab-jab-right hook for COVID-19 recovery.
Triple probiotic therapy includes all three types of probiotics—lactobacilli/bifidobacteria probiotics (50+Billion CFU’s), spore based commensal probiotics and saccharomyces boulardii. As for fiber, I tend to recommend easy-to-digest (non-bloating) soluble fibers like glucomannan, partially hydrolyzed guar gum, modified citrus pectin, flax, arrowroot starch and green plantain or banana flour.
Gut Loving Foods
Lastly, diet-wise, on top of eating “real foods” with one-ingredient, “gut loving” foods include:
- apple cider vinegar
- bone broths
- celery juice
- cholagogue foods—for the gallbladder (beets, carrots, dandelion, stewed apples, onion, garlic)
- collagen and bone broth protein powder
- enzyme-rich fruits (papaya, pineapple, kiwi, greenish bananas)
- extra virgin olive oil (also great for lung tissue regeneration)
- fermented foods
- ginger and mint tea
- herbs and anti-inflammatory spices (curcumin, cinnamon, rosemary, basil, oregano, cilantro, thyme, etc.)peppermint)
- honey (raw or Manuka) or pure maple
- lemon and lime
- pasture-raised, grass-fed meats and poultry (especially dark meat and skin for glycine and collagen)
- polyphenol-rich veggies and fruits (like berries, beets, carrots, cherries, olives, 100% cacao, dark leafy greens, pomegranate, artichoke, shallot, mycotoxin-free coffee)
- resistant starch (cooked and cooled potatoes/sweet potatoes, cooked and cooled winter squash, greenish bananas and plantains, coconut flour, cassava, arrowroot starch)
- raw milk (rich in enzymes)
- sea moss
- sea vegetables (kelp,
- stewed apples or pears
- wild caught fatty fish (salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines)
In your recovery stages (30-90 days), avoid alcohol, beans, dairy, egg whites, gluten, grains (including corn, rice, oats), peanuts, seed oils, (most) sugar and artificial sweeteners, and soy.
#6. Mast Cell Stabilizers
Mast cells are a type of white blood cell (immune cell) that is found in connective tissues all through the body, in nerves, in the lungs and intestines. “Mast cell activation” is a common phenomenon in post-COVID 19 and vaccinated patients wherein immune cells seemingly go “haywire” and release extra histamine throughout the body—like extra fire—with no means of extinguishing it.
Enter: Mast cell stabilizers—natural foods and supplements that help calm down the immune system, like boswellia, luteolin, quail egg, pine bark, quercetin and vitamin C. Many of these agents are also referred to as “natural anti-histamines.”
Typically we will dose one—or a blend—at meal times, when mast cells can become more active (in the presence of food proteins entering the body). Over-the-counter histamine blockers, like Claritin and Allegra (H1 Blockers) and Pepside (H2 Blocker) may also be helpful for immune system stabilization, taking one blocker at bed and the other in the morning.
#7. Detox & Lymphatic Drainage
Lymph is the clear white fluid found in all of your body tissues that acts like the “Nile River”—transporting white blood cells, nutrients and toxins throughout your body.
Aside from your lymph, you also have several “filters” or detox pathways that equally help with transporting nutrients and toxins throughout (or out) of your body. These include:
- Circulatory system and lymph
- Gut bacteria
Post COVID and vaccine injury can be an indication that your lymphatic system and detox filters are having a hard time getting rid of these toxins. If your lymph and detox pathways get overloaded, toxins move into fat cells and body tissues, rather than getting released from the body.
What causes the detox pathways to get congested in the first place?
Poor digestion—specifically sluggish gallbladder and liver function, and toxic overload. And if we are not clearing out toxins, then…Houston, we have a problem.
So what can you do to “flush your lymph” and detox pathways? Open your channels!
Detox & Lymph Support
- Stay hydrated. Drink water with minerals for a healthy liver and lymph support. Add a pinch of real sea salt and coconut water.
- Dry skin brushing. Take a dry brush with coarse bristle and brush the skin towards the heart. This stimulates the sweat glands, opens pores, and gets rid of dead skin cells. It also encourages the movement of lymph and blood in underlying organs and tissues of the body, which helps clear built-up toxins. Brush daily before you shower for best results.
- Sweat. Exercise daily to stimulate the lymphatic system and increase blood flow, and break a sweat in the sauna or a hot bath/shower to encourage toxin release.
- Limit toxins – Control both environmental (lotions, shampoo, laundry detergent, soaps) and internal toxins (processed foods, artificial sweeteners, food allergens). DIY your own skincare products and buy foods with the least amount of ingredients.
- Drink and supplement with herbs to cleanse the liver. Try lemon squeezed into water, milk thistle, dandelion tea, camu camu powder, beet juice and celery juice.
- Bone broth & Collagen peptides. Collagen and gelatin (the cooked form of gelatin) are found in the connective tissues and tendons of animals, and are essential for phase 2 liver detox (kicking out toxins)!
- Castor oil packs. Increase the flow of lymph throughout the body. This helps to speed the removal of toxins surrounding the cells and to reduce the size of swollen lymph nodes.
#8. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
Naltrexone had historically been used for autoimmune disease, cancer, and other conditions that involve immune dysregulation due to its balancing effects on the immune system—specifically T regulatory cell function. T regulatory cells,turn inflammation on and off, depending on what’s needed, and they prevent the immune system from getting stuck in a “flare” for patients with overactive immune systems as in allergies, asthma or autoimmunity. An over-the-counter alternative to LDN may be ashwagandha and rhodiola—adrenal adaptogens that also modulate T-reg cells. There is currently a clinical trial evaluating the effects of ashwagandha in post-vaccinated patients.
#9. Mitochondria Support
Your mitochondria are the “power houses” of your cells. Simply put, persons with COVID-19 who experience mitochondrial dysfunction may be at risk for poor health outcomes. Their batteries lose power—fast. Under-functioning mitochondria (like a dysbiotic gut) explain why elderly people and those with comorbidities (like obesity, diabetes and heart disease) are more at risk for severe COVID.
Mitochondrial dysfunction also explains why fatigue, brain fog, hormonal imbalances, heart conditionsand nervous system dysregulation are common side effects in the aftermath of the disease or vaccine. To reverse engineer this, we can support mitochondria with rebuilding strategies via diet, supplements and lifestyle.
Some of the top therapies include:
- Daily exercise (to tolerance)
- Hot cold showers and hot cold therapy (cold plunge/sauna)
- Intermittent fasting
- Feed your mitochondria (low starch, moderate protein, healthy fats—keep insulin levels in check)
- Green tea (EGCG)
- Mitochondrial supplementation (resveratrol, curcumin, nitric oxide, tributyrin, NAC and broad-spectrum nutrients)
- Methylene blue (low doses may act as an antioxidant in the mitochondria—1 drop + 12 cup water to make a 1% solution and take 4-8 drops one to two times per day)
- Meditation or yoga
- Organ meats and capsules
If respiratory complications were part of your COVID or injury, a nebulizer is your BFF! And even if shortness of breath or pneumonia-like lungs were not “a thing”, a nebulizer is a fantastic way to inoculate the body with antioxidants and detoxifying agents, like glutathione, colloidal silver and hydrogen peroxide (food grade, 3rds %). Our lungs are working 24/7 throughout our lives to keep us alive and oxygen is the #1 nutrient we need, not only for survival, but for combating oxidative stress in the body.
#11. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Emerging research shows that HBOT may be tremendously impactful for long COVID and vaccine-related symptoms of fatigue and ‘brain fog’. As with most therapies, it’s important to customize treatment to you in order to choose the best approach for where you are at in your healing journey.
#12. Brain Retraining
Many patients report brain fog, short term memory loss or difficulty concentrating post-COVID. Evidence suggests that the coronavirus’s assault on the brain is multi-pronged: it attacks and infects certain brain cells (astrocytes) directly, reduces blood flow to brain tissue—leading to tissue degeneration, and/or triggers production of immune molecules that can harm brain cells. Many of the results observed here are strikingly similar to those associated with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. This has raised concerns that the long-term consequences of COVID-19 may include these disorders.
Hence, a BIG part of recovery post COVID and vaccine injury MUST include targeted brain “rebuilding” exercises, nutrients and therapies to aid in recovery. The brain can regenerate when given the right tools. Additionally, healing the gut also plays a big role in healing the brain, given the fact that the gut and the brain are directly connected via the gut brain axis! Ever heard of leaky gut? Well, leaky brain is often an upstream byproduct of a leaky gut.
Brain therapies for improving brain function include:
- Daily exercise (helps with astrocyte and glial cell generation—especially HIIT and moderate intense exercise several times per week, along with walking, cardio and strength training)
- Rest: listening to your body and not overdoing it
- Eating “brain foods” (especially essential fatty acids—like wild caught fish, olives, olive oil, avocado, ghee, MCT oil, dark meat from organic sources; and polyphenols—like berries, turmeric, green tea, 100% cacao, tomatoes, beets and color-rich veggies).
Note: A short term low starch, higher fat, higher protein, higher low-starch veggie approach may be beneficial as high surges of insulin inhibit optimal brain function. The Mediterranean diet or a paleo diet may be a good starting point with a ketogenic flare.
- Intermittent fasting
- Targeted “brain exercises”
- Supplementation with brain-boosting supports:
- Extra virgin cod liver oil
- Nitric oxide
- Liposomal curcumin + liposomal resveratrol
- Hobbies that “work” the brain—versus make the brain go mushy (like TV watching or scrolling through screens)
- Dance classes/hip hop dance (learning the moves)
- Hand-eye coordination tasks (ping pong, tennis, sewing, beading)
- Crossword puzzles
- Memorizing daily scripture
#13. CNS “Workout”
Central nervous system dysregulation is characterized by symptoms like anxiety, feeling dizzy or light headed upon standing, fatigue, exertion with simple daily physical activity, sensitivity to lights, temperature, sounds or smells and just feeling “off”—not like yourself. One of my favorite methods to regenerate CNS “strength” is through Heart Math—a research-backed and clinically tested CNS recovery tool.
#14. Taste & Smell Recovery
One of the lingering symptoms of COVID is loss of taste and smell. This occurs due to greater loss of gray matter thickness and tissue in the brain (specifically the orbitofrontal corte, parahippocampal gyrus, and primary olfactory cortex). A majority of olfactory and gustatory receptors are also in the gut (hence, healing the gut can aid in recovering taste and smell).
Hence, a one-two punch approach for recovering taste and smell will target both the brain and the gut. Some strategies that have worked for folks include:
- Aqueous zinc supplementation (30 mg for 8 weeks), plus:
- Quercetin phytosome, 300-500 mg day
- Liposomal Curcumin + resveratrol
- Frankincense essential oil (dabbed inside nostrils)
- Chewing boswellia resin
- Sniffing deeply a variety of very strong smelling foods daily (like coffee
- Ivermectin—Clinical evidence has shown that a one to two day “therapeutic dose” of ivermectin may reduce viral load and aid in the return of smell and taste in as little as a couple days for patients
- Ozone therapy (sauna and/or intranasal)
- For smell only: lemon, rose, eucalyptus, and clove organic essential oils: Sniff each one gently for 20 seconds, twice a day. In between sniffing each one, take a deep breath. Then go on to the next one in no particular order.Rank how well you can smell, from can’t smell anything, can smell slightly, odors are unrecognizable, or to able to smell. Can improve over time.
Right Tool to Heal
When given the right tools, the body innately wants to heal itself. A great resource for generalized protocols is the FLCCC website.
Want a customized protocol, along with guidance in your post-COVID 19 recovery or vaccine injury? Functional medicine was made for you! Book a complimentary heath strategy call today so we can help you game plan best-next-steps and determine which therapies may be appropriate for you.
Ready to take your health back into your own hands? Book a complimentary call with Dr. Lauryn at our virtual functional medicine clinic to strategize a game plan for healing…now.