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4 Things You Need To Know About Post-viral Inflammation And How To Treat It
What Is Post Viral Inflammation?
Your body is still mounting an immune response, and this can lead to a build-up of inflammatory cytokines in your nervous system. Some of those inflammatory cytokines may cross into your brain (via the blood brain barrier) and this can lead to the fatigue or the brain fog effect you can feel. Sometimes you can also experience pain – which may be caused by inflammatory signals that are sent through the body via cells in your nervous system that were activated by the same cytokines.
Post-viral inflammation can also change how your mitochondria (energy producing bit in our cells) work. It can reduce the amount of mitochondrial DNA replication, and as with any stress (or sickness) there is an increase in oxidative damage. While it all sounds a bit grim there are some things you can do to help if you are struggling from post-viral inflammation.
Are You Having Lingering Symptoms?
What happens when you have passed that initial acute phase and are still struggling to kick lingering symptoms? What if you are still feeling exhausted? Or achy or run down? This can indicate that you are struggling to clear the virus from your system and that you may still be feeling the effects of lingering inflammation.
Recently there has been a lot of talk of 'long COVID' and how people are still finding it hard to get back to their ‘normal’ baseline of health and vitality. Some people are finding that they are struggling with exhaustion levels 3 months post Covid-19, and others are still struggling a year later. So, what can you do to help recover more efficiently and help with any post-viral inflammation?
1. Rest Is Extremely Important
2. Some Ways To Help Post-viral Inflammation
Post-viral inflammation and chronic fatigue falls into a space similar to adrenal fatigue – not 100% recognised medically – so it is not easy to be ‘diagnosed’ or treated. However there are some things that may help with reducing the stress or impact your body is feeling. They include:
- Sustained rest. Being very serious about your workload and the boundaries you put around yourself in this time. Go to bed earlier, sleep when you can, do not over exercise.
- Drink more water than usual. It can help with hydrating and flushing out waste material from inflammation. It can also help with side effects like headaches etc.
- Eat wholefoods. Basically, fresh fruit and vegetables, soups, broths the things that pack a nutritional punch.
- Drink your plants – tonics, soups and teas. This is an easy way to get more nutrients in (Anti-Flam and Daily Boost are especially good here).
- Conserve your energy – checking emails and computer work still takes energy so remember to have realistic expectations on what you can actually do in a day.
- Tell people you are not feeling 100% - so they know and can work with you. Don’t hide the fact you are not well, being honest means people can plan around and work with you.
- Vitamin B supplements might help with that extra energy you need. Consider taking one daily.
- Zinc. Take a good quality zinc for at least a month after a meal to help replenish your stores and also help support recovery.
3. New Research
There is some updated information from practitioners treating post-viral inflammation. This is especially relevant if you're struggling with a loss of smell and taste post covid. They have found success in recommending a mixture of nutrients to help with recovery and also to help bring back senses lost with COVID/post-viral inflammation.
Their current recommendations are nutrients which support the olfactory and nervous systems, which are:
- Vitamin A - plays an important role in restoring the olfactory receptor neurons and epithelium.
- Vitamin D - a vitamin D deficiency can impair your taste and smell. Ensuring you have enough vitamin D can also help with post-viral hair loss.
- Zinc - a zinc deficiency impairs the perception of taste and smell. One study concluded that zinc therapy (50mg of elemental zinc twice daily) may have a role in shortening the duration of smell recovery in patients with COVID-19. This dose can also help with post-viral hair loss.
- Omega-3 - Several studies propose that omega-3 fatty acids help the heart and immune system. Studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids may help restore the olfactory nerve and could be used alongside olfactory training in patients with loss of smell.
- PEA - palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) has also been shown to potentially improve olfactory function. There are also recommendations around ‘smell training’ to bring the sense back. You can read about that here.
- N-acetylcysteine - NAC reduces inflammation and oxidative stress which impacts the taste buds and provides antioxidants to support in recovery.
- Curcumin - Curcumin (found in turmeric) may protect patients with long-COVID by targeting the pro-inflammatory immune cells NF-κB which has been associated with lung injury. Curcumin may also help subdue the activity of bradykinin (a vasodilator substance) by inhibiting enzymes. This can help suppress ongoing coughs. Curcumin is also a potent overall anti-inflammatory for the whole body. This is why we use it in our Anti-Flam Tonic.
4. There Is No Quick Fix
There is no quick fix for post-viral inflammation but supporting the body by reducing the instance of inflammation (e.g., no high stress exercise, , incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet) can help support your body to recover.
The big take home is you need time to recover, and yes in our society it can feel weird to not be productive. However, if you don’t take the time now – you may find it harder in the future.