A substantial number of people who become infected with COVID-19, whether documented by a positive test or not, experience long-term effects, often referred to as long COVID.1 The symptoms and health conditions of long COVID can last weeks or even months and potentially years following infection. They may resolve and then return later.
While people who have more severe COVID-19 infection are at greater risk for developing long COVID, anyone who has had the illness, even a mild case or had no symptoms at all, can be affected. Vaccination, while effective for preventing hospitalization and death, offers little protection against long COVID.3
In fact, long COVID symptoms like brain fog, headache, high blood pressure, among others, have been associated with vaccines, albeit uncommonly.4 Though research has not definitely identified a mechanism for long COVID effects, it has been postulated that coronavirus remains in tissue after resolution of the infection, causing organ damage.
For many people, long COVID interferes with their ability to perform activities of daily life and can lead to disability.1,3,4 To prevent such disability and protect against organ damage, it is important that people with long COVID receive effective treatment. Anecdotal reports support the use of acupuncture for resolving the symptoms of long COVID and restoring function and health.5-7 Patients report relief is as few as 2 to 3 sessions and resolution with 10 sessions.
One study involving 85 patients found11:
- 85.71% were cured of shortness of breath and fatigue
- 84.62% were cured of body pain
- 82.35% were cured of brain fog
- 71.42% were cured of irregular menstruation
They found several synergistic mechanisms of acupuncture in these patients that are associated with:
- Suppression of inflammatory stress
- Improvement in immunity
- Enhancement of regulation of the nervous system via activation of several important pathways (eg, neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction, calcium signaling pathway, cancer pathway, viral carcinogenesis, Staphylococcus aureus infection, and so on).
The prevalence of long COVID-19 symptoms and conditions and their impact on patients’ ability to perform activities of daily life and quality of life underscore the need for effective treatment. Findings from real-world experience and clinical studies show a viable role of acupuncture in the treatment of long COVID-19.
- Tiredness, fatigue that interferes with daily life
- Worsening symptoms following physical/mental effort (post-exertional malaise)
Respiratory & Heart
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Fast-beating, pounding heart
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating (brain fog)
- Sleep problems
- Dizziness when standing up
- Pins-and-needles feeling
- Change in smell, taste
- Depression, anxiety
- Stomach pain
- Joint, muscle pain
- Changes in menstruation
Written by: Diann Peterson, Medical Writer, New York City Metro Area