There is a resurgence of acute COVID infections in Australia and across the globe. New omicron variants are continuing to surface. (In Victoria, waste water testing indicates sub-variants BQ.1 and XBB now make up 10 per cent of total cases.)
Not only are more people getting sick, more people will be at risk of the long term health impacts – because 5%-10% of individuals are likely to suffer Long COVID.
There are lifestyle practices that can help mitigate Long COVID (and reduce your risk of cancer and cardiovascular problems at the same time). I’ve written about these here.
However, lifestyle is not always enough protection. This article explains some of the supplements that are useful in supporting your long term well being and your capacity to avoid or treat Long COVID.
All supplements require professional advice in regards to the dosage, quality and duration of use to best help your body and your health. Self medicating in any form – be it pain killers or supplements – is a risk, as some supplements can adversely interact with other medications or your health condition. It’s best to be sure – both for your safety and to make sure your money is wisely spent.
So this information is to help you understand what’s known and the potential extra benefits – but you still need advice for your circumstances.
How can supplements help against Long COVID?
There are several ways that supplements can support your body :
- They can boost the mitochondria – the tiny powerhouses found in every cell of your body.
- They can help improve your gut health and control inflammation, so boosting your immune system.
- They can improve your metabolic health – which also boosts your immune system.
- They can prevent/reduce viral replication.
And the right supplements (and lifestyle activities) will not only help your COVID, they can also improve your overall health with:
- Improved metabolic function
- Improved circulatory system health
- Improved chronic pain management
- Improved asthma/hayfever management
Mitochondria are the hard-working miniature organelles found inside nearly every cell in the human body. They create energy from the foods we eat, and break down harmful waste products. There are supplements known to support their function.
Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Ubiquinol or Co-Enzyme Q10 at relatively high doses of 300 to 600mg per day has been shown to support mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the tiny power houses or ‘batteries’ in each cell in your body. They are adversely affected by the SARS-COV-2 virus (and some medications like statins). 80% of the body’s energy is derived from the mitochondria – so supporting them makes sense.
Poor mitochondrial function can show up as:
- low energy levels
- unable to concentrate
- gut issues
- poor sleep quality
- heart and thyroid issues
- neurological concerns
Dietary sources of CoQ10 include: oily fish like salmon and tuna; organ meats like liver and wholegrains
As we age we lose the ability to transform dietary ubiquinone (CoQ10) into the active CoQ10 form that our body can use (ubiquinol). Certain vitamin deficiencies like Vitamin B6 can create a deficiency of CoQ10 as well. A derivative of Vit B3 called NAD (Nicotinamide adenine Dinucleotide) helps with activity of CoQ10 also.
When choosing a supplement of CoQ10 make sure you request the fermented Japanese variety of Ubiquinol. There are plenty of look-a-likes out there on the bandwagon designed to take your money. Be cautious about quality.
The right magnesium supplement – in the orate form – improves mitochondrial function in all our cells. Other types of magnesium can help the function of specific systems.
General Immune Support
A number of supplements are known for their ability to support your overall immune system. These are the go-to supplements for dealing with colds and flu.
Two of the best known general immune support supplements are Echinacea and Vitamin C. There are many impersonators of true medicinally active Echinacea on the market.
Look for the one with E.angustifolia or a combo of E.angustifolia & E.purpurea. And the one that gives a tingle to your tongue. Then you know you have the Echinacea with the active alkyl amines to best moderate your immune response.
Vit C is a lot easier to find. Just make sure it does not contain artificial sweeteners like saccharin, a carcinogen. (Read the label.) Check with a Naturopath about the best dose for your body.
Healthy Gut & Inflammation Control
70% of our immune system is located in our gut. A healthy gut helps to keep viruses and bacteria in balance and modifies excessive inflammation. It helps your system to recover as well as possible.
COVID is known to impact the gut, and can trigger inflammation which then perpetuates itself in your body in a vicious cycle.
Interventions like lifestyle modification help your gut health, as mentioned above. In addition there is an array of effective anti-inflammatory herbal medicines when used in correct dosage and quality for your individual circumstance.
Curcumin (high dose turmeric), Gotu cola, Harpagophytum, White willow bark and Bacopa are some examples of potent plant medicines that can be prescribed in specific dosages for the individual, depending on where the symptoms of inflammation are showing up in your body.
For example, Bacopa has a particular affinity for the nerves in the brain so is useful for ‘brain fog’, memory issues or a ‘busy’ brain. Gotu cola and ginkgo can be especially suited to inflammation in connective tissue like tendons, joints and muscles.
Metabolic health and insulin resistance
Metabolic health problems such as diabetes are a risk factor for poor outcomes from viral infections such as COVID.
Research confirms that insulin resistance – which is at the root of many metabolic conditions – is a key driver of the progression of viral infection as it increases inflammation and impairs immune function.
Diet plays a huge role in managing blood sugar spikes that are associated with increasing insulin resistance. Even adding apple cider vinegar with or before meals can greatly assist your digestive capacity and thus curtail these blood sugar spikes. ‘Clothing’ your carbs is effective too. That is, adding good proteins, fats and fibre to the carbohydrates you are consuming (more in this post!)
Medicinal herbal supplements in the correct dosage are invaluable to correct insulin resistance. Examples are Fenugreek seed, Nigella sativa seed (often called Black seed or Black Cumin and related to the ornamental flower ‘love-in-the-mist’), Gymnema, Purslane (a common weed), Bitter melon fruit, Cinnamon verum stem bark.
Stress management supplements
‘Adaptogenic’ herbs like Siberian ginseng, Rhodiola, Licorice, Rehmannia, Withania and Medicinal Mushrooms can all support mitochondrial recovery, helping maintain your energy levels. These herbs help you to moderate the effects of stress, be it physical or emotional.
Viral replication reduction
The purpose of viruses is survival – to make more viruses. They do this by multiplying inside your cells, then spreading from your body to other bodies. So a key way to fight their impact is to reduce their ability to replicate. A number of supplements can help this process.
Quercetin in high doses early in COVID can reduce viral replication; in moderate doses it can improve the balance of inflammation in Long COVID. Quercetin and other members of the Vitamin C family can also help modulate other inflammatory processes like hayfever, sinusitis and pain.
NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) is showing promise in reducing viral replication. NAC supports glutathione in being the most potent detoxifier of our body. Glutathione also helps in eliminating unwanted inflammatory products that can cause distress.
The common Western industrial diet in Australia is known for a number of nutrient deficiencies, from minerals to fatty acids. So investigating and treating deficiencies will help your health for the long term – while helping to manage Long COVID.
Fish oil in appropriate dosage is a great anti-inflammatory. Another Omega-3 oil found in krill oil at 1000mg per day is showing signs of being a beneficial anti-inflammatory especially in Auto-immune issues, like SLE, Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis etc.
Deficiencies of basic nutrients like Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Selenium, and Vitamin B12 can all impact your energy reserves and ability to avoid or calm Long COVID.
Appropriate amounts of macronutrients like proteins, fats and carbs all influence your ability to heal.
Don’t just “get over COVID” – improve your health and your vitality
Well educated Naturopaths are a source of reliable and effective suggestions to help you on your healing journey. Ask questions, delve into the knowledge space of your chosen Health Practitioner be they a GP, Naturopath or Specialist. You need to feel confidence in being treated as the individual person that you are.
Healing from COVID and Long COVID is about building a healthy lifestyle – and naturopaths take a holistic view that includes non-medicinal health approaches. So your “prescription” is likely to include options such as:
- Regular mind-body meditation to modify the effects of stress.
- Exercise and doing fun things – especially in natural green spaces – to enhance your immune capacity and relieves stress.
- Massage and other body therapies reduce stress.
Contact me today to optimise your health and wellbeing. SMS: 0407 318 956 or [email protected]