Post-Viral Recovery Tips from our Naturopath Jana
Post-viral syndromes are not new. We’ve long known acute viral infections can leave some people with lingering symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, a general unwell feeling, digestive complaints, skin issues, hair loss, cognitive impairment, headaches, sore throat, and more. In addition, organ systems have been involved and may be affected, including the heart, lung, kidney and the skin.
At this time, it is unknown if these symptoms will go away on their own or lead to chronic disease states. For some patients who were hospitalised, there might be additional issues to deal with, such as post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) characterised by ongoing extreme fatigue, physical symptoms due to side effects of treatment, and trauma from hospitalization, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Many patients are seeking a fresh perspective on addressing their vital challenges. Supplements and herbs from nature supervised by Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are reporting positive results by applying naturopathic medicine philosophy and gentle, effective approaches used to treat similar ailments.
Naturopathic approaches for Long Haul 'virus' symptoms aim to rejuvenate immune function, decrease overall inflammation, support a robust and diverse microbiome, reverse autonomic nervous system dysfunction from ongoing stress, and reduce environmental exposures that may affect endocrine dysfunction (much more on this below).
Recommendations may include the following
- Education about optimal nutrition, an anti-inflammatory, appropriate-for-you diet, and correcting nutritional deficiencies, especially Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin D. Heal the gut first if needed and investigate and remove food allergens or sensitivities, which can cause inflammation and irritation throughout the physical and emotional areas. Food is a medicine approach – wholesome, chemical free produce and certified organic where possible. Healing foods and spices such as food rich in antioxidants (greens, berries, turmeric, etc…), alkaline foods to reduce inflammation (greens, fermented foods, plant-based diet) and nutrient dense seasonal food to ensure adequate nutrition for the body and soul. A natural antioxidant, which you can find in food and also can supplement with is Glutathione. Its function is also to rebalance the immune system. Two other important antioxidants would be NAC and Quercetin.
- Working to support a robust and diverse microbiome by eating fermented and cultured foods and drinks, and in some cases, taking supplemental pre- & pro-biotics or colostrum, since a healthy microbiome is central to optimal immune function, hormone balance, mood, cognition and more.
- Offering evidence-informed nutritional supplements or botanical medicines, each with its specific or synergistic biochemical impact as indicated for your general and your specific symptoms. Few examples are as follow: Siberian ginseng, Lion’s Mane, Rhodiola, Withania, St John’s wort, Japanese Knotweed, Astragalus, Cordyceps, Dan Shen.
- Ensuring adequate hydration, perhaps half your body weight in ounces if possible, which helps to coordinate body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, prevents various kinds of infections, brings nutrients into cells, and is essential in keeping major organ systems functioning well. Being well-hydrated also helps with sleep quality, cognitive function, and overall mood.
- Encouraging adequate and restful sleep, key to physical healing, and emotional and cognitive health.
- Suggesting appropriate exercise, as tolerable, and in consultation with physical therapists, cardiologists and pulmonologists, since some post- 'viral' patients have respiratory weakness, cardiac symptoms or musculoskeletal limitations. Offer natural anti-inflammatory support such as Magnesium, Curcumin, PEA
Assessing and addressing psycho-emotional health, with referral for talk therapy for the treatment of anxiety and depression. The integration of body-mind methods is important as our understanding grows about the relationship between mood, immunity, the hormone system, and the central and peripheral nervous system. Using methods like mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, positive imagery, and gratitude practices, reconnecting with nature, all help normalize the activated stress response. A few examples of supplements and herbs to support moods post viral depletion would be 5HTP, SAMe, Lemon balm, Passionflower, Oats, Saffron, Medicinal Mushrooms, active B complex.
- Adding whole-person medicines, such as acupuncture and homeopathy to stimulate the innate healing capacity.
- Addressing any structural issues, as indicated, through physical manipulation, massage, cranio-sacral work, etc., or referral to other providers who can provide such services. When the physical body is well aligned, other approaches will work better, and circulation and perfusion is improved.
The depletion of nutrients, stress and poor lifestyle has shown to be a significant risk factor for severity of Post-'viral' syndrome, or any prolonged post viral recovery. Micronutrients are vitamins and specific minerals that are critical to the proper structure and functioning of numerous proteins, enzymes, physiological processes, and signaling pathways within the body. Without these micronutrients, these essential processes cease to function properly, and this contributes to morbidity and, in cases of severe deficiency, mortality. Micronutrients are needed to properly use our macronutrients like protein, fats, and carbohydrates. And making sure the body has enough rest to be able to recover and use the power of nature are the key answers to preventing any prolonged post illness recovery.
Remember that these tips may have some contraindications for some people, so please speak with your GP’s and/or one of our friendly Naturopaths at our Byron Bay and Mullumbimby stores for more information, or for a tailored plan to best support your personal needs. Thanks to our Naturopath Jana for writing this article. Jana works in our Mullumbimby store Mon-Wed.