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The long road to recovery

Naturopath Sarah Burt explores the issue of Long Covid and takes a look at some natural approaches to tackling the symptoms

While there is still much that is unknown regarding Long Covid, it is a condition that may become more prevalent. It is suspected that as many as 10 to 30 per cent of the population who had symptoms of the Covid-19 virus last year may end up presenting with it.

Long Covid is a condition where people who had the Covid-19 virus initially recovered, but are reporting lasting effects of the infection or have had the symptoms, but for longer than expected. Some of these symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, headaches, muscle fatigue, hair loss, skin rashes or loss of taste and smell.

In extreme cases this can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease, lupus, IBS, fibromyalgia, mental illness or histamine overproduction.

There is much research being done at this time to try and understand why this may be occurring, but many people remain untreated while this research is being concluded.

As a complementary therapist for over 20 years, I have frequently treated Post Viral Syndrome in my patients, which is a condition similar to Long Covid, and arises when the virus affecting a person simply does not fully leave the body. Over the months and years, the virus continues to wreak havoc in the body leaving a person with chronic fatigue, poor digestion, lowered immunity and often mental health issues such as low mood and anxiety. Over the years I have concluded that there are six main areas to focus on to help facilitate a full recovery. These are as follows:

Step 1: Antiviral herbs

The first step involves treatment with antiviral herbs. Here are some examples:

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) contains the active ingredient Carvacrol which has been shown in studies to reduce the activity of Murine Norovirus (MNR) within 15 minutes of exposure to it1.

Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum or tulsi) increases immunity which helps to fight off viral infections. Studies show it increases the production of T-cells and natural killer cells which help the body to fight off viruses2.

Fennel extract (Foeniculum vulgare) exhibits strong antiviral effects against parainfluenza-type 3 (P1-3), which causes respiratory infections3.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a potent source of essential oils and plant compounds that have antiviral properties. Research shows that its constituents have an antiviral affect against Avian influenza (bird flu), HIV-1 and enterovirus4.

Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been specifically shown to target strains of viruses including Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which cause pneumonia-type symptoms5.

There are other highly beneficial herbs and substances that can be taken that will help to increase immunity. These include peppermint leaf, cat’s claw, echinacea, ginseng, ginger, garlic, black elder, astragalus and sage. Oregano oil is specifically indicated for pneumonia-type viruses while vitamin C in strong doses is also beneficial i.e. 1,000mg (timed release) vitamin C at least three times per day.

Step 2: Reduction of inflammation

This step involves reduction of the inflammation which occurs due to the overactive immune response to the virus. This will cause joint and muscle inflammation, headaches and gut problems (due to inflammation of the vagus nerve). The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves that emanate from the brain. It transmits information to or from the brain to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body. This inflammation can ultimately progress to the autoimmune condition fibromyalgia.

Tips to help

Step 3: Stress reduction

Try to reduce stress. People are often left feeling exhausted and with sleep disorders after coming down with viruses as our bodies’ stores of vital nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and selenium are depleted. Replace these vital vitamins and minerals with good quality supplements. Also consider taking liquorice root, which is a herb widely available in teas that can begin to replenish tired adrenal glands and help with inflammation. Please note: be careful with too much of this if you have high blood pressure.

Step 4: Liver care

This next step involves restoring proper liver function. Often the virus affects the liver, which in turn will affect the conversion of glucose from carbohydrates in our diet into our vital energy source glycogen. Energy, detoxification and hormones can all be affected by a sluggish liver. A good milk thistle capsule daily for at least three months can help to restore liver function.

Step 5: Check on your mental health

Mental health issues can show up as brain fog, increased anxiety or depression and speech changes. A good supplement to aid these symptoms is co-enzyme Q10, which crosses the cell lining to the mitochondria of the cells where adenosine triphosphate (ATP – the energy source used by the body’s cells) is made. A quality supplement of at least 30mg daily is advisable.

Step 6: Rest and gently does it!

Rest is vital. Only reintroduce daily exercise once the body is fully recovered and then do it slowly and gently to prevent adrenal collapse. Pace yourself very carefully, keeping work and social stress to a minimum. Get as much fresh air and sunshine as you possibly can.

Step 7 – Watch your diet

It is essential to follow a low-acid diet filled with alkalising foods, lean protein and as little processed foods as possible. This will help bring the body back to full recovery.

The way some of us have lived our lives has meant that our body chemistry hasn’t been able to fully recover from viruses such as Covid-19. Naturopathy works with the understanding that the body has a unique capacity to heal itself given the right conditions. The steps I have outlined above should help anyone still reeling from the illness start to heal and restore themselves to good health.

Sarah Burt is a naturopath and iridologist who has been practising naturopathy for 20 years. She is a member of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) and the General Council and Register of Naturopaths (GCRN). Sarah offers a 7 Weeks 2 Wellbeing programme consisting of a combination of herbal tonics, flower essences and dietary advice to get all patients back to a state of wellbeing. To find out more, visit

Smell training for Covid-19 smell loss

One of the prominent – and persistent – symptoms of Covid-19 is loss of smell. Around one in five people who experience smell loss as a result of Covid-19 report that their sense of smell has not returned to normal eight weeks after falling ill. As a result, this has led to “an unprecedented worldwide demand for treatment” according to smell loss expert Prof Carl Philpott from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School.

Corticosteroids are being considered as a therapeutic option for smell loss caused by Covid-19. But, as Prof Philpott explains: “They have well-known potential side effects including fluid retention, high blood pressure, and problems with mood swings and behaviour.”

A natural alternative to corticosteroids is smell training, which involves sniffing at least four different odours twice a day every day for several months. “It has emerged as a cheap, simple and side-effect free treatment option for various causes of smell loss, including Covid-19,” says Prof Philpott. “It aims to help recovery based on neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganise itself to compensate for a change or injury.”

For more information, visit







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