anxiety

Can Long COVID affect My Gut? Treatment Options for GI Symptoms

Long Covid, also known as post-acute Covid-19 or prolonged Covid-19, is a term used to describe the ongoing symptoms and health effects that some individuals experience after recovering from an initial Covid-19 infection. While the respiratory system is often the primary focus of Covid-19 treatment and research, long Covid can also have a significant impact on the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

Studies show that the COVID virus particles can be found in the human gastrointestinal system for months after acute infection.

GI symptoms are common in individuals with long Covid (it was one of the last symptoms to resolve for me), with research suggesting that they may occur in up to 60% of cases. These symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, these symptoms may be severe and persistent, leading to significant impairment in daily functioning and quality of life.

The exact mechanisms behind the GI symptoms of long Covid are not yet fully understood. However, it is thought that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, may directly infect and damage the GI tract. The virus is known to bind to certain proteins called ACE2 receptors, which are found on the surface of cells in the GI tract.

In addition to direct viral infection, long Covid can also lead to GI symptoms through indirect mechanisms. The immune response to Covid-19, including inflammation and the production of immune cells and cytokines, may affect the GI tract and contribute to symptoms. Stress, anxiety, and depression, which are common among individuals with long Covid, can also have negative effects on the GI system.

The management of long Covid-related GI symptoms often involves a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers may be used to manage heartburn and acid reflux. Antidiarrheal medications, such as loperamide, may be used to manage diarrhea, while laxatives may be used to treat constipation. Probiotics and dietary changes, such as increasing fiber intake, may also be recommended.

In this video, Dr Vincent Ho explains the long term effects of Covid-19 on the gut and how to mitigate these effects.

In severe cases, more aggressive treatments may be necessary. For example, individuals with persistent vomiting may require intravenous fluids or medications to control their symptoms. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat complications such as bowel obstruction or perforation.

Treatment Options for Long COVID GI Symptoms that Worked for Me

  • Water fasting every two weeks to induce autophagy which heals your internal organs via cellular regeneration
  • Taking H1 and H2 Histamine blockers initially while healing the gut
  • Probiotics, especially Lactobacillus Plantarum
  • AIP Diet – The autoimmune protocol diet reduces systemic inflammation
  • Betaine HCI for low stomach acid
  • Peppermint pills to calm IBS-C symptoms
  • Licorice root to heal GI and antiviral, anti-parasitic, antibacterial properties
  • Slippery elm bark powder in smoothies to heal GI
  • L-glutamine to heal GI
  • Mastic gum to heal stomach lining and what felt like ulcers, though H.Pylori test was negative
  • toxins binder including bentonite clay, activated charcoal and chlorella
  • Beet root supplement to increase nitric oxide and support liver and gallbladder function

It is important to note that the long-term effects of long Covid on the GI system are not yet fully understood. More research is needed to better understand the mechanisms behind these symptoms and to develop effective treatment approaches. In the meantime, it is crucial for individuals with long Covid to seek medical attention for persistent or severe GI symptoms and to follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations for management.

Overall, it is clear that long Covid can have a significant impact on the GI system, leading to a range of symptoms that can be persistent and difficult to manage. While more research is needed to fully understand these effects and develop effective treatments, it is important for individuals with long Covid to seek medical attention for persistent or severe GI symptoms and to follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations for management.

Does Transcendental Meditation Help Long COVID Symptoms?

Over the last 40 years of research and experimentation by western medicine, Transcendental Meditation has proven to be a highly effective and scientifically verified way to prevent and reduce stress and fatigue. Numerous studies by medical organizations around the world have proven the effectiveness of this ancient practice. From dialing down stress and other symptoms in veterans suffering from PTSD to reducing high blood pressure in at-risk groups of people, this form of mindfulness and meditation offers significant potential. Regardless of one’s age, circumstances, religion, culture or profession, TM as a healing practice should be explored in relation to Long COVID. My own experience was quite positive and was one of the few things I tried which gave me almost immediate positive biofeedback of symptom improvement for Long COVID. But first, let’s talk about what is TM?

What Is Transcendental Meditation?

According to the Cleveland Clinic:

“Transcendental Meditation is a type of meditation. You silently repeat a word or phrase in your mind to settle yourself into deep consciousness. Transcendental meditation has been found to have many health benefits, including lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress.”

Cleveland Clinic

During a session of transcendental meditation, your mind and body enter a state of relaxation. This helps balance your neurotransmitter activities and hormones while calming the thoughts in your mind and the physiological stress response of your body. Can you see how this might help with some of the most severe neurological and hormone related symptoms of Long COVID? That was exactly my train of thought as soon as the brain fog caused by Long COVID had lifted enough for me to start Googling potential treatments.

Benefits of Transcendental Meditation for Long COVID Symptoms

In my own experience with transcendental meditation, I found the following benefits and improvements to several of my 50+ Long COVID symptoms:

  • HRV (as measured by my Garmin watch) climbed from around 30 to the mid 50’s
  • resting (racing) heart rate dropped from ~95bpm to ~60bpm
  • blood pressure which was fluctuating dramatically throughout the day stabilized within a normal range
  • my racing thoughts slowed dramatically and stopped overwhelming my consciousness
  • the multiple daily ‘adrenaline dumps’ and borderline panic-attacks all but disappeared
  • the severe tension I had experienced in several muscle groups throughout my body started to relax (massage therapy also helped with this)

To be clear, my background is technology, not health or medicine, so I approached all of this fairly pragmatically. My initial thought was the idea that TM was specific to the Hindu religion and not worth exploring since I don’t practice that religion. In fact, several of my Christian friends expressed concern that at best the practice is questionable and at worst, potentially opening up oneself to evil. However, I had taken on the mindset of ‘trying everything’ to escape from the living hell of Long COVID symptoms. After two sessions, I was convinced of the benefits and would without hesitation recommend it to anyone experiencing Long COVID symptoms. At best, you experience remission of many of your symptoms, and at worst, it doesn’t do anything for you and you continue trying other therapies for Long COVID. There are also no side-effects, unlike most drugs being prescribed to Long COVID sufferers.

The video below was my initial introduction to Transcendental Meditation on my Long COVID recovery journey. With the immediate positive biofeedback I saw just watching this video, I decided to pursue it further and am thankful for the role it played in my healing process.

To learn more about my experience with Long COVID and the diet, protocols, therapies, supplements, substances (yes, I know), specialists, lab tests, and medical imaging that helped me be sure to read my full story of Surviving Long Covid. If you currently suffer from the effects of this parallel pandemic, I pray you also make a full recovery to health!


Surviving Long Covid

Home

Welcome to the Surviving Long COVID website. We are survivors of long COVID. We are not among the 6 million who died from this pandemic. We are SURVIVORS! But, as survivors, this illness has left us with often debilitating symptoms and unexplained medical challenges that traditional medicine has all to often been unable to find solutions for. In quiet desperation, by the millions, we have taken the route of medical experimentation. 

Hi, my name is Josh Champagne. I am a Long COVID survivor. I created this website to share my Long Covid journey in the hopes that it will help you on yours. I have tried the diets, the protocols, the therapies, the supplements, the substances (yes, I know), the specialists, the tests, the imaging, and more. In short, I’ve tried ALL THE THINGS in a quiet Herculean effort to restore my mind, body and soul to some semblance of my pre-COVID conscious existence.  If this sounds like you, welcome to the journey, and I pray you find healing and wellness. 

What is Long COVID and Co-infections?

Long COVID, also known as Long Haul COVID,  or PASC (post acute sequelae of Covid), or chronic COVID is (according to the Mayo Clinic) any new, returning or ongoing symptoms that people experience more than four weeks after getting COVID-19.  These symptoms and their severity are somewhat unique to your body, genetics and immune system, which is part of what makes the illness so difficult to manage and treat effectively. The SARS-COV-2 can also activate other dormant illnesses including EBV, Lyme Disease, and other pathogens as it pushes your body into an immuno-compromised state of being. All that being said, here is a short list of some of the common symptoms of Long Covid. I have linked several of them to resources I found helpful for treating them in my journey to healing from this illness.

Symptoms of Long COVID 

General symptoms

  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort, known as PEM (post exertion malaise)
  • Fever or inability to moderate normal body temperature and feeling of histamine or “allergic reaction” inside your body 

Respiratory and heart symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (SOB)
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Elevated heart rate or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)

Neurological symptoms

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Headache
  • Sleep problems / Insomnia 
  • Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness)
  • Pins-and-needles feelings 
  • Change in smell or taste including “smell memories”
  • Depression, extreme anxiety, adrenaline dumps, panic attacks, feelings of impending doom 

Digestive symptoms

  • Diarrhea / Constipation 
  • Constipation 
  • Swallowing difficulty 
  • Gastrointestinal pain and/or swelling

Other symptoms

  • Joint or muscle pain and swelling 
  • Rash
  • Changes in menstrual cycles