I believe that medicine’s potential is much more than the version we see in the world today. A doctor should be an educator with the goal of bringing patients to a place of deeper understanding of who they are in the world. To me, medicine is ultimately about self-empowerment through self-knowledge and growth.
-The Berkshires are down to 155 cases these last seven days, the lowest tally in 5 weeks.
-Nationally last week we had a 7 day average of 70K now we are down to 62K for a daily average over the last week.
-We are seeing seen a trend towards positivity about May predictions. Numbers in the US are anticipated to continue decreasing. The next declining wave is likely starting. (Ventilating your space, being outdoors, physical distancing, protecting yourself in all the important ways are still smart).
-Vaccine supply is high, which apparently drives down motivation to actually get the shot amongst the masses. Experts predict a slow down now that appointments will be easier to get. Apparently we as a mass of people prioritize something that’s harder to get. As a mass I’d like to see us work on not being so predictable.
-J&J’s pause certainly slows the pace of vaccination in more than one way. This will be a trend to watch.
-Speaking of J&J, the EU and South Africa are resuming the Johnson and Johnsonvaccine and I would expect the Advisory Committee to vote to follow suit today here in the US, with the attachment of a warning.
“More good news please.”
A study shows variants aren’t any more deadly. Mic drop. There are lots of assumptions, always. We operate in the dark until we make it light. Variants are thought to be more transmissible and were feared to be more deadly. Not so, says the latest.
“What else are people asking about?”
Lots of people are asking about Long Covid.
“What’s the deal with Long COVID, Doctor?”
“And why the smug smile?”
Long Haulers know it’s not a laughing matter. The lingering effects of the infection can take different shapes and forms. Over 200 different symptoms are described! The most common are: fatigue, shortness of breath, and headaches along with digestive issues and ongoing fevers. If the symptoms linger for 12 weeks after a COVID infection it meets the criteria of Long COVID. There are lots of unknowns: what is the cause, just how common it is, how to diagnose, how to classify, how to treat.
Some of what we are learning:
Occurs after possibly 15-30% of COVID cases.
Can be mild or severe. 1/5 cases might be unable to work
More common in patients that were hospitalized
Tends to improve with time
More common in women than men
Estimates from UK for their population 1.7% of everyone there is dealing with it. And millions worldwide.
This is similar to what can be seen after other illnesses: Lyme, Epstein Barr, Influenza, Food Poisoning (Post infectious IBS) to name a few. Whatever we learn here we can consider extrapolating to these other conditions and vice versa. Let’s use what we learn!
These are the main two questions:
What causes the lingering symptoms after COVID (and other infectious diseases)?
What are the treatments??
I’ll write more on these questions next week, but the main point is that this is almost certainly not one syndrome. It is likely a complex blend of various factors, including those preexisting the illness, but by breaking it down we can find smart approaches. We can never assume two post-covid patients will have the same configuration, however. Treatment will have to be individualized.
Most importantly to know, there are good treatments, despite this being underplayed everywhere.The nugget is that the same things we use to treat COVID can be used to treat post covid syndrome. The vitamins used to treat and prevent as well as repurposed antivirals like Ivermectin and Fluvoxamine (for Brain symptoms) are being used. Immune system modulators like steroids and ozone and herbals are as well. More to come on this.
“Can you give us one more thing to tide us over til next week, Doc?”
The thought that rounds out this introduction to Long-Covid syndrome is to consider a holistic option. There is a certain plant that has been used to help with the exhaustion that comes after illness. It’s called Blackthorn (or Prunus Spinosa) and is a member of the rose family.
Blackthorn flowers burst onto the scene intensely in the early spring even before the plant grows its leaves! Its thorny, earthy branches are filled with these white flowers.
What’s more is that its berries don’t ripen in the summer sun but wait until the first frosty evenings in October and November to turn sweet. Few plants expose its fruit to such conditions!
When a plant stands out with unique features like this it is indicative of its power as a healing plant. Interesting the way that works. It’s the same with us.
Celebrating the features that distinguish us (being whole) makes us powerful.
This plant has a particular signature in the way the light (flowers), water (leaves), warmth (fruit), and earth (thorny stem) interact. This plant used medicinally can harmonize the breathing processes (connection to light) which can fall out of rhythm after an illness. It can also help to overcome excessive structure and lethargy (excess water) through its vitality enhancing powers (warmth).
It can be used in a bath or as a body oil. It can be taken orally as a homeopathic liquid or pellet. Its use as a medicinal plant comes solely out of the anthroposophical medicine explorations of the last century. Uriel Pharmacy, Weleda and True Botanica all carry a number of products which contain it.Studying how the elements manifest in a plant and then using its wholeness to support a healing process is medicine not only for the patient but for the plant and for the practitioner.