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How the NUHS Whole Health Center is successfully treating Long COVID

by Jul 18, 2023

Home » NUHS Blog » How the NUHS Whole Health Center is successfully treating Long COVID

Although COVID-19 cases are winding down and dropping out of the news, it still remains an ongoing health challenge for millions of Americans. Research shows that more than 1 out of 3 people who contract COVID-19 continue to suffer from a condition called Long COVID.

With few conventional medicine options, many patients are seeking relief from complementary and alternative medicine services offered at National University of Health Sciences’ Whole Health Center clinic in Lombard, Illinois.

What is Long COVID?

Those suffering from Long COVID continue to experience symptoms weeks, months or even years after contracting COVID-19. Since the early days of the pandemic, clinicians and student interns at the NUHS Whole Health Center have seen symptoms that include fatigue, digestive symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, etc., and respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and cough. Chronic cough and brain fog are among the most commonly reported symptoms.

Through various natural, noninvasive treatments, our naturopathic medicine interns have found success improving and lessening the severity of these symptoms. Today they continue to see patients with Long COVID as a primary concern or in connection to a chief complaint.

Here are a few of the ways NUHS naturopathic medicine clinicians and interns are treating Long COVID:

Similarities in treatment to post-viral syndrome 

COVID-19 is not the only virus that can cause long-term symptoms. Post-viral syndrome is a complex condition that occurs after the body fights off any viral infection such as the common cold, flu, pneumonia, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes and HIV.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, post-viral syndrome can cause multi-organ effects or autoimmune conditions that involve many body systems, including the heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain. This may make those who have had COVID-19 more likely to develop new health concerns such as diabetes, heart conditions, blood clots, or neurological issues. Therefore, it’s crucial that those who have symptoms of Long COVID seek treatment. 

Since COVID-19 is a virus, NUHS clinicians treat Long COVID similar to how they might treat post-viral syndrome. Overall treatment focuses on reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system, balancing the nervous system, and supporting the body’s stress response. This can be through a number of modalities and recommendations such as proper nutrition, increased sleep, exercising or receiving a massage.

Restoring nutrient deficiencies 

Long COVID is associated with some specific nutrient deficiencies. This can vary among individual patients. Clinicians will usually provide a personalized plan that will help restore these deficient nutrient levels. 

Depending on the plan, the treatment may come in the form of dietary recommendations or nutraceuticals. Unlike supplements, nutraceuticals are made up of whole foods/ingredients. This may include omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, probiotics and CBD oil.

Low level laser therapy for loss of taste and smell 

Loss of taste and smell is commonly reported among those with COVID-19. In fact, it’s one of the COVID symptoms that many find to be the most challenging. Even after recovering from COVID-19 patients can continue to experience this issue. 

At the Whole Health Center, clinicians have found that utilizing low level laser therapy (cold laser) can improve a loss or impaired taste and smell. This type of therapy uses photons at a non-thermal irradiance to alter biological activity through the use of lasers, filtered lamps and LEDs. 

According to researchers, low level laser therapy can help stimulate healing, reduce inflammation and increase skin rejuvenation. The therapy also has the added benefit of causing few adverse reactions or side effects. 

Hydrotherapy 

Hydrotherapy can also be effective for treating Long COVID. Since the NUHS Whole Health Center opened a new hydrotherapy suite in 2017, clinicians and interns have been utilizing the therapeutic benefits of water to treat several types of ailments and boost various body systems and functions. 

There are several forms of hydrotherapy. Depending on the patient’s health history and specific symptoms, clinicians may recommend: 

  • Constitutional Treatments: A one-hour series of alternating hot and cold compresses to the abdomen and thorax to support digestion and elimination, relieve stress, and boost immunity. 
  • Far infrared (FIR) saunas: The use of infrared heat, which penetrates the body more deeply than warmed air. This type of treatment has a variety health benefits. It can help detoxify heavy metals, promote weight loss, improve sleep, reduce chronic pain and reduce systolic hypertension.  
  • Peat Immersion Baths: A 10-20 minute soak in a hot tub infused with a special mixture that promotes detoxification, followed by a 20-minute “perspiration phase” where the patient is wrapped up and allowed to relax on the treatment table. 

At National University of Health Sciences, the modern hydrotherapy suite includes a room dedicated to constitutional treatments, Hubbard tank and steam cabinet, allowing interns to learn and perform a dozen different hydrotherapy treatments. 

Botanical medicine  

Botanical medicine, or natural, organic, non-synthetic plant based-medicine, is another one of the tools that naturopathic medicine doctors use for therapeutic purposes. Various herbs and tonics can have profound effects on Long COVID symptoms with few adverse side effects. 

For example, gingko and ginger can be used to reduce inflammation while echinacea can provide an immune system boost.  

How the clinic is preparing students to treat long COVID in their future practice

Long COVID is an ailment current students can expect to see in practice well into the future. At the Whole Health Center, students are able to gain valuable experience before they even graduate.  

With each patient, students learn what symptoms to look for, the most pertinent history questions to ask, how to fine-tune their physical exam skills, and what is the most appropriate laboratory testing and medical work-up. Additionally, although naturopathic treatment protocols are based on individual needs, there are common themes/areas. When students learn these areas, it helps them focus on what is needed for treatment. This way, they are prepared to confidently treat Long COVID at their future practice. 

To learn more about the NUHS Whole Health Center visit the NUHS website. To set up an appointment at the Lombard, Illinois location, including virtual visits, call (630) 629-9664.

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About the Author

Dr. Jennifer Green

Dr. Jennifer Green

Jennifer Green, ND, DC, is Chief Clinician of Naturopathic Medicine at National University of Health Sciences’ Whole Health Center clinic in Lombard, Illinois. Dr. Green previously served as an ND clinician for nearly 10 years. She earned her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from NUHS in 2010 and her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from NUHS in 2021.  Dr. Green specializes in women’s health, pediatrics, autoimmune and endocrine disorders, lab diagnostics, Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST), general naturopathic practice, and has a strong determination for finding the root cause of symptoms and individualizing treatments for each person. 

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