So you recently had COVID, now what should you do?
Tips on Post-COVID Recovery
Within the last six months, we’ve had many patients seeking post-COVID acupuncture treatments and herbal recommendations. The good news is that most reported how the acute symptoms were medium to mild in severity and lasted for a week or less. More good news is that the fear and concern with regard to having caught COVID and the overall emotional tenor of the experience has been far reduced from what it was towards the beginning of the pandemic; a sign indicative of of increased mental wellness.
And while most people recover fully after a bout of COVID, we have noticed a few common residual symptoms with which our patients and contemporaries continue to present. We’d like to share with you our observations and some herbal supplements we know can help.
- Dry Cough:
- One of the two most common types of coughs we see post-COVID is the dry cough. This cough usually doesn’t originate from the chest but rather from higher up in the body around the base of the throat. It is often accompanied by a dry or sore throat, hoarse voice, and increased thirst. For many of these patients, the fever and sweats they experienced during the acute phase of the illness burned up their fluids and damaged their tissues; as a result, their system is slow to rehydrate. Hence, one needs to replenish these fluids directly to the upper respiratory area and heal the tissues.
- Recommendation: Two common herbal formulas that can do this are Jie Geng Tang (Platycodon Decoction) and Bai He Gu Jing Tang (Lily Bulb Decoction to Preserve the Metal), depending on the severity of the symptoms. We’ve found that when prescribed correctly, patients notice an immediate difference and a resolution within days.
- Wet Cough:
- Yep, the other common cough is the exact opposite presentation. A patient will often complain of residual loose, clear phlegm in the back of their throat that creates a constant tickle and cough. Like the dry cough, this cough does not originate from the lungs or chest cavity, but is more focused in the throat. In these cases, pathological fluids build up in the system and do not fully resolve, even after the acute symptoms of fever, chills, bodyaches, etc., have passed.
- Recommendation: A very common formula that we prescribe (and one of my personal favorites!) is Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Minor Bupleurum Decoction). This is often used when one has not yet fully recovered even though the initial cold/flu symptoms have dissipated, so it is great to keep in the medicine cabinet. And don’t forget to lay off the phlegm-producing dairy products until you make a full recovery.
- Most post-COVID patients will complain of at least one to four weeks of fatigue, or we’ll hear something along the lines of “I’m just not feeling myself yet.” Maybe it’s getting winded walking up the stairs or not feeling ready to resume their regular exercise routine, but getting an acute respiratory illness tends to compromise the lungs and exhaust the body.
- Recommendation: Our go-to general immune boosting supplement (and now we’re starting to sound like a broken record because we recommend this ALL the time) is the mushroom-derived adaptogen, Cordyceps. In Chinese, cordyceps is Dong Chong Xia Cao which translates to “winter worm, summer grass”. It is a fungus that overtakes an insect and then sprouts a grasslike stem. Traditionally Tibetan nomads painstakingly collected them by combing the plateaus of Tibet. Lucky for us, it is now produced in a lab and readily available for general consumption. Be sure to buy from a trusted source; dosages should vary from 1,200-3,600mg/day. Anything less that that (hey ubiquitous-mushroom-tea-with-no-listed-dosages, I’m looking at you), and it just won’t do much. Generally, we have patients take a higher dose just after the acute phase and then drop down to a lower dose for daily immune boosting support.
Of course the best way to treat is according to exactly what your individual body needs, and that’s where customized herbal formulations come in (cue broken record). It goes without saying that every body experiences sickness uniquely and while we can make general recommendations, we have dozens of cough-resolving formulas alone. Many of our regular patients are accustomed to being hailed with a flurry of questions regarding their distinctive symptoms before we can make specific recommendations.
Remember, it’s always beneficial to treat even the most minor of symptoms following an illness. This way, minor symptoms do not turn into major ones.
We hope you found this list helpful to better care for yourself and your loved ones. If you or someone you know have more troubling or long lasting symptoms that you think are connected with a recent bout of COVID, please reach out for more help with recovery. And if you have a cough that seems to be coming from your chest and not your throat, do give us a ring.