ACUPUNCTURE IS BENEFICIAL FOR LONG COVID
Covid-19 is odd in how it can affect some so badly, while for others it’s not much more than a cold or they have few - if any - symptoms. But the problem isn’t over when the initial symptoms go. Long Covid is a new chronic condition that has doctors and researchers worried. It’s perplexing medical professionals and researchers as they struggle to understand why it affects people the way and does. And while it is so misunderstood, there are limited ways Western medicine has to help those struggling. But there is hope! Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in helping treat the symptoms and underlying causes of Long Covid, helping bring people back to health(1). There is a lot to cover, so strap in for the ride … So what is Long Covid?Long Covid is a type of Post Viral Syndrome and refers to a range of symptoms that last weeks or months after having the initial Covid-19 virus. Symptoms are diverse and range over several body systems and organs - and may change over time (just to make things even more complicated). Along with the common fatigue and chronic pain, this insidious virus is also causing damage to the brain and heart, as well as diabetes. Experts say that it’s quickly growing into a major public health concern, already overwhelming GPs and adding stress to overloaded health systems here in NZ and around the world. Not to mention the loss of quality of life to those who suffer with it… Some facts and figuresUsually people feel better from COVID-19 after 2–6 weeks, with a full recovery within 12 weeks. But some are still struggling months after their initial bout of Corona virus – even if it was a mild case. It seems there’s no clear reason or pattern as to who gets a bad case and who gets a mild version of Covid, the same lack of logic seems to go for long Covid too. Studies and reports from around the world are showing that Long Covid-19 can affect between 10-50% of people who’ve been infected with Covid-19 (2) (different research has different results), with them reporting persistent symptoms six months after they tested positive(3). No one knows the actual number of people affected, but it is estimated that over 100 million people will have some kind of issue post-Covid 19 and a large percentage of those will become Long Covid(4). The most common symptoms of Long Covid include:• Fatigue, weakness and extreme tiredness• Cognitive issues including difficulty thinking, headaches, brain fog• Changes to mental health (depression, anxiety)• Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness• Joint or muscle pain, pins and needles• Changes to your sleep, insomnia• Smell or taste changes• Changes to your hormones or period • Chest pain, heart symptoms and palpitations• Digestive issues including stomach pain, diarrhoea• Rashes Symptoms vary in type, intensity and duration, leading some experts to suggest that there may be several different syndromes at play, which makes it even hard to diagnose and treat. It’s not well understood what’s causing the issues. Research suggests that even in mild cases, for some people, Covid-19 symptoms last a lot longer than other viruses. In comparison, over 90% of people with flu recover within 2 weeks(5). It tends to be more prevalent in those with underlying conditions and in women (which sadly is true for most autoimmune conditions), but it can affect anyone who has had Covid-19 – even if they didn’t know they had it (4). Age is a factor too, but not quite in the way we thought. Older adults are less likely to have long COVID than younger adults. Nearly three times as many adults ages 50-59 currently have long COVID than those age 80 and older(6). For a more comprehensive list of symptoms, check out Ministry of Health’s symptoms of Long Covid:https://www.health.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-public/about-covid-19/long-covid#symptoms So what’s causing it?How long the virus lasts in the body depends on the individual and the severity of the illness. Like colds and flu where the viral load peaks quickly, Covid appears peak in the first week of illness. However, in some people low levels of the virus are detectable in the body for up to 3 months, with one study finding that people have the active virus for as long as 83 days(7). The causes of long Covid-19 are not yet known in western medicine. It is believed the virus is causing lingering issues for some by damaging cells or affecting inflammatory markers and the immune system. It can affect all organ systems including the lungs, heart, brain, digestion and more.In Chinese medicine, Long Covid can be caused by your body being exhausted from fighting off the initial infection or the COVID-19 pathogen still being present in the body - even though the initial symptoms have gone.Acupuncture can help The great news is that medical professionals and researchers have found that acupuncture is effective for relieving long COVID symptoms(8) . Acupuncture has thousands of years of treating viruses and since the pandemic started it has been widely used in the treatment of COVID-19 around the world. In China, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has been used in up to 85% of cases! Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in alleviating coughing, headaches, fatigue, and restoring sense of taste and smell in Long Covid(8). But acupuncture is successfully used to help with heart conditions, lung health and breathlessness, post-viral fatigue and chronic fatigue, mental health, memory and cognitive health, immunity, pain, digestive issues, and more – all the areas that Long Covid can affect. A personalised approachThe great thing about acupuncture is that your treatment is personalised to your specific issues and concerns. Rather than treating one specific symptom with a medication, we work to bring balance back to your whole system - meaning we can treat multiple symptoms at once. In bringing balance back, we can also boost your resistance to future (re)infection. So it doesn’t matter if you are struggling with one ongoing issue or a raft of problems, acupuncture can help. Even better, acupuncture safely works alongside other treatments and medications. Whether it’s Long Covid or something else you’re struggling with, in my years as an acupuncturist, these are just some of the myriad of benefits I’ve seen my clients get from acupuncture treatment:• Speeds up recovery time • Strengthens the overall body to help fight off colds, flus and viruses• Increases energy• Improves sleep• Reduces stress and worry• Improves chronic and acute conditions What the research saysWhile it’s still relatively early days in terms of research results, publications about the role of acupuncture and Chinese TCM herbal medicine in treating Covid-19 have been emerging since early 2020 and there are over one hundred studies underway. Research published in June 2022 shows that acupuncture can effectively address both symptoms and the underlying causes of Long COVID(7). Another study shows that acupuncture can improve the lungs of people suffering from long COVID(9). Studies undertaken before the pandemic show that acupuncture can have a direct impact on the immune system as well as having an anti-inflammatory action, which is particularly useful if you are suffering from symptoms caused by COVID-19 or Long Covid. These studies show clear evidence that acupuncture increases the body’s ability to fight infections (10), while at the same time calming the body’s tendency to overreact – which can be a big part of the ongoing issues with Long Covid. I could go on, but the long and the short of it is, acupuncture can help. The great thing about acupuncture is it’s effective on its own, but is also safe to use alongside pharmaceuticals as well as supplements, herbs and other treatments. So no matter what symptoms you have, if you’re struggling with getting back to full health after having Covid-19 – or any health issue – I’m here to help. References(1) https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/2166-acupuncture-produces-long-covid-relief (2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8523205/(3) https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/how-many-people-get-long-covid-more-half-researchers-find/ (4) https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6930e1.htm (5) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/20220622.htm(6) https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/2166-acupuncture-produces-long-covid-relief (7) https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247%2820%2930172-5/fulltext (8) https://www.acupuncturetimes.com/acupuncture-improves-the-lungs-in-people-with-covid-19/ (9) https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247%2820%2930172-5/fulltext(10) https://acupuncture.org.uk/safety-in-acupuncture/covid-19-faqs/
Acupuncture for older adults
We’ve all heard of – or experienced – growing pains as a kid or teenager. But growing older can be hard work too.If we’re honest, we generally start to slow down from our 40s and things stop working quite as well as they used to. The great news is that whether you’re 45 or 95, acupuncture is perfect for every body. No matter your age, shape or health condition/s, acupuncture can help you feel better at any age. It is especially helpful for older people / elders / seniors (I don’t want to offend anyone….) to help increase flexibility and mobility, reduce stiffness, relieve pain, and boost energy. How it worksAcupuncture is a gentle, natural approach to help treat the aches and pains in aging bodies. Instead of treating symptoms, acupuncture helps naturally treat the source of your pain, without medication.As a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncturist I use very fine disposable needles (the width of a human hair) inserted into specific points on your energy pathways. A treatment usually consists of 6-10 needles in your arms and legs. It helps relieve symptoms by rebalancing your system. You can use acupuncture on its own, or alongside medication.There is no age limit for treatment – everyone from babies to the elderly may benefit. Most people are surprised at how painless and effective acupuncture can be. What can Acupuncture help with?The World Health Organisation recommends acupuncture for many conditions and complaints. It has a long history of pain relief. Peer-reviewed, scientific journals have shown that acupuncture can deactivate pain at the source by changing local endorphin levels and is as (if not more) effective than morphine for pain relief.Acupuncture can be effective at treating a wide range of ailments (too many to cover here) so here are just some of the conditions I can help with: Increased mobility and flexibilityPain relief – arthritis, nerve pain, neuropathy,Back and body pain – neck and back pain, injuries, sprains, strains, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel, sciatic nerve pain, tennis elbowRespiratory –colds and flu, asthma, bronchitis, COpd, sinus problem, hay fever and allergiesDigestive – constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids, heartburn, reflux, nausea, Crohn's disease.Bladder health – UTIs, kidney health, bladder leakage, and prostate issuesHeart health – palpitations, high and low blood pressure, angina.Mental Health – depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomniaHealthy eyes – conjunctivitis, cataracts, and other eye issuesOther – shingles, skin conditions, general immune boosting, tinnitus, post-stroke syndrome, hair loss What you need to knowI work alongside your medication and medical provider including your GP, specialists, and more. I am a recognised ACC treatment provider which means if you have had an accident or suffered an injury you can come straight to me for treatment, without needing a referral from your doctor.I am a registered Acupuncture NZ member. If you’re of age, Gold Card discount applies.For more information on how I can help you on your journey to wellness, or to make a booking, please get in touch.
SO HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
Chinese medicine looks at the body from an entirely different perspective. We look at the body in holistic terms as a system of meridians and organs which need to work in balance and harmony for optimal health and well-being. We look to the root cause of why something is happening and work to correct the imbalance, rather than just treating the symptoms.Meridians are energy channels throughout your body carrying energy or Qi (pronounced chee). Acupuncture unblocks and moves the Qi through the body’s systems including the nervous, respiratory, circulatory, muscular, and digestive systems.There are twelve main meridians – Bladder, Kidney, Liver, Gall Bladder, Heart, Small Intestine, Triple Warmer, Pericardium, Spleen, Stomach, Lung and Large Intestine. They connect to the organ or system they are named after, but also have emotions that relate to them as well. So we are treating not just physical issues or ailments, but on an emotional level as well.During a treatment, fine needles (the width of a piece of hair) are inserted into points to stimulate the body’s nervous system to balance Qi. Each acupuncture point has certain actions.You remain clothed on the treatment table and I work with points predominantly in the legs, feet, arms and hands (so rest assured, I won’t be prodding and poking into areas you aren’t comfortable with).It may seem odd to have needles placed in your legs if you are having stomach pain, but trust me it works!I use sterile single use needles which are disposed of immediately after removal.Most new patients are amazed how painless acupuncture is – the thought is worse than the reality. You may feel some heaviness, tingling or electric sensation either around the needle or travelling up or down the affected energy pathway or meridian. But often there is no sensation at all and the needles are completely painless.Depending on the type of treatment you have received, you may feel very relaxed and calm or you may feel revitalized and more clear-headed.It is not unusual to feel like resting after a treatment and occasionally your symptoms may flare for a short time before settling. Generally the effects of the treatment will be more obvious the following day.
Sciatica can be such a pain in the butt. And lower back, hips, legs, feet, even toes! According to the Southern Cross, over 40% of kiwis will suffer from it at some time. With sciatic pain sleeping, sitting, walking, bending, turning or standing maybe difficult. You may have pain down the back of the thigh, butt, lower leg, ankle and toes. You may have burning, numbness, pins-and-needles in one or both legs. Exercise and stretching is great to manage it, but acupuncture can also hugely help – especially when you are in a lot of pain with it. Studies show acupuncture is as effective, if not more so, than morphine (and doesn’t have the side effects) so I can help get you out of pain fast. It also helps address the issues that are causing the sciatica to begin with. You don’t have to suffer with sciatica. Get in touch and find out how acupuncture can help you move on with life pain free.
Insomnia isn’t fun and there’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture.Now while it might seem counter intuitive to stick needles in you to help you sleep, research shows that acupuncture can help with your zzzzz’s to help get you to get to sleep and stay asleep.A study of volunteers with anxiety and insomnia revealed that acupuncture increased the night time levels of the “sleep hormone” melatonin. At the end of the trial anxiety levels were significantly lower and sleep efficiency had increased. Both sleep quality and sleep time had improved considerably.If you regularly wake at a certain time it can be your body talking to you telling you things are not as optimal as they could be. From a Chinese Medicine point of view, these are very telling signals from your body that you are out of balance. For example:Waking regularly between 1 – 3am can be a sign your liver needs some TLC, you are holding onto a lot of anger, or you have an overload of toxins.Waking up regularly between 3 – 5am can be sign your lung meridian is out of balance or you have a lot of grief and sadness. Acupuncture can help get your system and emotions balanced so you can sleep soundly through the whole night. It also helps with insomnia, sleep disturbances and overall energy levels.