Natural Treatments of Long Covid - Part 1

As our knowledge and expertise in treating Long Covid patients has become widely acknowledged, we have quickly become highly sought after for the holistic-based treatment of Long Covid at our London clinic. We are pleased to share this updated version of our previous blog, Successfully treating Long-Covid. Responding to the need for greater support from our patients, we are also delighted to share that we are now offering an empirically backed Long Covid Recovery Programme integrated with bespoke Ayurvedic wellness offerings at our Sanctuary in Sri Lanka.

At Sen Wellness we believe that each one of us has the power to heal, flourish, and awaken to our highest inner potential. After hundreds of successful treatments, we have now crafted a unique, holistic approach to healing symptoms of Long Covid. Harnessing the power of holistic healing modalities rooted in Ayurveda, we have developed a unique programme that has the power to offer hope to those who may be suffering.

Since the autumn of 2020, I have spent much time observing a large number of patients recovering from Covid. During this time, limited data and research were available and there was much uncertainty in symptoms associated with Covid. We are grateful that our blog post offered hope to those who were suffering and encouraged many to seek a holistic natured treatment programme after they were left disheartened by a more conventional approach.

It is profoundly heartening to have reached and supported such a large group of individuals internationally on their road to recovery from what for many has been an extremely trialing, lonely, and misunderstood condition. I would like to dedicate this blog post to all our patients for instilling their trust in us to walk alongside them on their journey back to equilibrium and well-being. 

We are pleased to present this blog post with incredibly relevant information, including feedback from influential academics at the forefront of Long Covid research. It is our hope that this blog offers hope of recovery to those who may be suffering.

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Treatment of Long Covid
Table of Contents

What is Long Covid?

“Long Covid is a condition that seems to elude the best efforts of healthcare practitioners operating inside the NHS, as well as private consultants and Long Covid clinics. My opinion is that a holistic approach to the body and treatment is the only way we’re likely to ’shake the tree’ and elicit significant improvement and help us in our journey of recovery. Sam Kankanamge and his team at Sen Wellness have made an enormous difference to me and my recovery - it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t have been able to continue working the way I have without his efforts. His energy, understanding, knowledge, and intuition are unparalleled and I wouldn’t have the slightest hesitation to recommend his approach for a range of health problems as well as that of Long Covid.”

To begin, I would like to share my experience as well as empirical evidence that my team and I have gathered in treating a large pool of Long Covid patients.

The majority of patients belonged to the 20-45-year-old age group. Common themes among patients were that they were all relatively fit, exercised often, and had busy lifestyles. Many experienced very mild Covid symptoms, however, these symptoms worsened over 4 weeks, developing into Long Covid. In nearly 40 cases, patients had experienced a history of ME/CFS or immune system failure. Lastly, a large group of Long Covid sufferers lived with heightened levels of stress.

Researchers are finding lingering similarities between Long Covid and ME/CFS. Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex condition affecting 1 million to 2.5 million people in the United States alone. It is characterized by a cluster of symptoms, including severe and debilitating fatigue, disrupted and unrefreshing sleep, difficulty thinking (commonly called “brain fog”), abnormalities of the autonomic nervous system, and post-exertional malaise — a flare-up of multiple symptoms following physical or cognitive exertion. (Bindu, Paul, and Anthony Komaroff) Gez Medinger and Dr. Ronald Tompkins MD on “Long Covid vs ME/CFS | Why There’s Much We Can Learn From The Similarities” is linked here.

If you would like to read more about Post-COVID and Long Covid conditions, data from The CDC can be found here.

Symptoms presented high level:

Among our Covid patients, these were the most common symptoms presenting themselves: difficulty breathing, tightening of the chest, and shortness of breath.

Of our Long Covid patients, many reported physical tiredness, lack of energy for physical exertion, difficulty performing everyday tasks such as cleaning the kitchen, and brain fog. The accumulation of these symptoms created an immense amount of both emotional and physical stress.

Other symptoms include:

  • Various types of muscle-skeletal pain: Specifically lower back, shoulder, and neck pain. This often led to headaches and migraines induced by physical misalignment.
  • Abdomen and digestive disorder: This symptom is often presented with inflammation of the intestinal tissue or food intolerance.
  •  Inflammation of myocardial tissue: While not as common, this is worth noting as some experienced inflammation of the heart muscle.
  • Loss of smell and tinnitus were also extremely common.

Further, there is a  large connection between Covid and the microbiome that has been overlooked. Our microbiome is a gateway to our immune function.  It holds the power to fight off infection, and disease, and create natural immunity within our intestinal flora. 

However, due to the Western diet, many of us are exposed to in modern-day life, we have very little microbiome left in the intestinal flora. In many cases, this is due to chemical damage. Chemicals that are present in processed foods, plastic, and beyond all contribute to the deterioration of our flora. In addition, the overuse of antibiotics from a young age also contributes to the deterioration of the microbiome. Less intestinal flora leads to a weaker immune function.

A study shared by Science titled Seasonal cycling in the gut microbiome of the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania expressed the diversity of microbiota within the Hadza hunter-gatherers in comparison to urbanized communities. The data from the study indicated that some dynamic lineages of microbes have decreased in prevalence and abundance in modernized populations. Hence, the microbiota of the hunter-gatherers in Hadza was much more successful in defending the body against covid.

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Common symptoms of Long Covid

Common symptoms explained in depth:

Compromised Sympathetic Nervous System

Through and through we have found that our Long Covid patients present with highly aroused and highly-wired sympathetic nervous systems. Many patients' nervous systems have been in a state of overdrive, a state that triggers a compromised immune system. When the immune system is compromised, it is extremely difficult to fight off infection and disease. For many patients who present with highly aroused sympathetic nervous systems, something as simple as a short walk can trigger sympathetic overdrive. Oftentimes setting off symptoms such as chest pain, inflammation of cardiac muscles, and heart palpitations. Upstate Medical University shared-“Some patients who survive COVID infections struggle with a variety of symptoms after they’ve recovered from the infection, a condition called long COVID. Some of those symptoms are related to the body’s autonomic nervous system, which plays a role in involuntary body processes including heartbeat, blood flow, digestion, and breathing.” (Eldokla, Ahmed)

Inflammation of Bowel & Intestinal Tissues triggered by the Vagus Nerve

Another extremely common finding amongst our patients is inflammation of the bowel and intestinal tissues. From my background in osteopathy, a simple osteopathic examination reveals that these tissues are related to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the most influential in the parasympathetic system. When activated and properly functioning it can help you better manage stress, reduce cortisol levels, and achieve a better homeostatic balance, which affects all physiological functions of the body, including better absorption of nutrients and digestion, decreased systemic inflammation, improved short-term memory, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, produces endorphins that make you feel good, relieves anxiety and depression and can stimulate stem cells. The vagus nerve is something that is often overlooked and not examined in traditional healthcare, but it is vital to your optimised well-being. Similar to our first finding, the vagus nerve is compromised by states of overstimulation to the sympathetic nervous system. When your vagus nerve is compromised it is common to experience anxiety, palpitations, and mood swings. All of these lead to inflammation of the intestinal lining and colon. "'I started seeing Sam for my Long Covid and PoTS a year ago. Through a combination of cranial osteopathy, acupuncture, breath-work, and trauma release he and his colleague Lina have helped my symptoms. At Sen Wellness Centre, you are treated as a person rather than a collection of organs. This holistic approach helped unearth issues with my autonomic nervous system and identified the role of prior traumatic experiences in my symptoms presentation. I would strongly recommend their services to anyone with Long Covid’.” -Dr. Asad Khan

Brain Fog

From an osteopathic approach, brain fog is the result of residual locking and compression of the dural membrane. The dural membrane acts as a protective barrier to prevent viruses from attacking the brain and central spinal cord. When exposed to states of stress, such as being attacked by the virus, the dural membrane releases fluid, leaving it less hydrated, compressed, and inflamed. Thus, limiting space for movement from the brain to the spinal cord, as well as compromising its ability to filter nutrients and fresh blood. Brain fog is often a result of a compromised and inflamed dural membrane. An article published in Forbes recently stated: Although inflammation is a common feature of many infections, viral and otherwise, SARS-CoV-2 elicits a particularly intense inflammatory response. Exactly why remains unclear. What is becoming increasingly clear, on the other hand, is that much of the damage associated with Covid-19 can be traced back to this hyperinflammation. (Haseltine, William)

A Holistic Approach- Restore Equilibrium at our Sanctuary

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Sen Wellness Sanctuary

Being a holistic osteopath with an integrative approach to addressing Long Covid, it has been of the utmost importance to me to acknowledge that symptoms vary from person to person; to understand that each person is unique and requires individualised treatment.

Over 25 years of experience, I have gained a vast understanding of a person’s emotional, mental, and physical profile. Furthermore, the ability to sense and understand the proprioception of tissues in the body; our tissues often present underlying symptoms and lead the way for a recovery program.

I have mindfully crafted a Long Covid Recovery Programme that has proven to be successful. Rooted in Ayurveda, osteopathy, and harnessing the power of ancient healing modalities, I can confidently say it is possible to heal Long Covid and reignite your inner light.

Our Long Covid Recovery Programme is deeply inspired by the Ayurvedic practice, Panchakarma. Panchakarma is the Sanskrit word meaning five actions or five treatments. This ancient system of healing is designed to act as a bio-cleansing regimen that eliminates toxic elements from the body, thereby enhancing the body’s immune function.

 

Resetting the Autonomic Nervous System

The radical elimination that takes place during Panchakarma works as an effective method of healing for those suffering from Long Covid. The treatments make way for the release of toxins, micro-clotting, reducing inflammation on both micro and macro levels, and much more.

Panchakarma acts as a trigger for the autonomic nervous system to reset. During this phase, your nervous system will exit from a state of “fight or flight” and restore your nervous system to a state of equilibrium.

The programme will be tailored to your requirements after consultation with our resident Ayurvedic doctor. Panchakarma will be the main focus of treatments for the reasons shared and will also be aided by complementary modalities such as acupuncture and a bespoke mindfulness programme created in collaboration with our research partners at the University of Humboldt in Berlin. By the end of this personalised 12-day programme set in idyllic surroundings, your mind and body will feel balanced and restored. 

Our Long Covid Recovery programme goes beyond a traditional medical experience. Our goal is to go further, to address traumas and stress associated with Covid and social isolation. Not merely addressing physical symptoms, our intention is also to provide you with emotional support and to introduce long-term lifestyle changes upon returning from the programme. Much care has been forethought into the design of this programme to give you the necessary tools to continue on a new path of well-being. 

For more information on our Long Covid Recovery programme, you can get in touch at 020 7486 3373 or email us at [email protected]

Excellent4.8Based on 177 reviews from Heike M.Heike M.1708017780 ★★★★★ I stayed at Sen Wellness Sancutary for the festive retreat 23/24 - for me a 10 days commitment to complete immersion. I enjoyed every bit of it already at the Sanctuary! Now, back home and 40 days later, I am still profiting from the treatments, the experiences I made and my 40-days-practise that I started, as soon as I arrived home.Here is my deepest gratitude for the gifts I received during this retreat: a wonderful place, a kind, supportive, attentive and friendly team, support and grounding in my personal difficult moments, fantastic and soothing Ayurveda treatments (thanks to the doctors & massage therapists - always there with a smile and advice), delicious food, fascinating ceremonies (an unforgettable experience!), a lot of fun & laughter with other group members...Just to name a fiew.The biggest gift is, that I still have all this in my heart, that I can feel the connection to it. And that the practice of pranayama and meditation starts to become a routine! I hope, I can return to this unique place one day.Sally E.Sally E.1707933557 ★★★★★ My stay at Sen Wellness was exhilarating, from the dramatic colours of the sunsets to the naughty monkeys bouncing on the roof of our yoga room then leaping into the jungle. Best of all was watching, after a sunset walk over the wide empty white beach, newly hatched turtles hurtling over the sand to the ocean beyond. Good food, kind smiling staff, excellent and varied company from all over the world at the communal meals, massages, swimming pool, meditation, yoga, it was all pretty faultless and very inspiring.The serene and mesmerising Tseyang from Tibet provided me with a yoga programme I am actually keeping to.Jennifer M.Jennifer M.1707576319 ★★★★★ One of the most relaxing and intriguing stays I’ve ever had. From the moment you walk in to the moment you leave, the hosts and staff anticipate and provide for your every need.The creative Vegan meals, yoga, meditation and daily treatments make this retreat a must-do for anyone who wants to experience an absolute gem.Melbin A.Melbin A.1707565341 ★★★★★ I recently attended a 14-day Ayurveda and Yoga retreat at Sen Wellness Sanctuary, and I can confidently say it was the best decision I made in 2024!The sanctuary is nestled in a truly enchanting environment, providing a perfect blend of calmness and nature. Being located next to Turtle Beach added a unique touch to the overall experience, making it an ideal destination for anyone seeking serenity and relaxation.The staff at Sen Wellness Sanctuary is exceptional. From the moment I arrived, I was greeted with warm smiles, and their hospitality throughout my stay was beyond compare. Special shout-out to Sudheera, Sanath, the Manager, whose dedication to ensuring a seamless experience stood out. Frances,The wellness Manager with her beautiful soul, Tsayang, my Yoga guru, Gopi, my transporter, and the entire team, including Kavindu, Dr. Tarushi, Dr. Udari, Mahil, Madhu, and many more, contributed to making my stay truly memorable.The food was another highlight of my experience. Traditional Sri Lankan dishes, rich in veggies and fruits, were served daily, creating a culinary journey that added to the overall wellness experience.One of the most rewarding aspects of my time at Sen was the opportunity to make new friends from around the world. Connecting with like-minded individuals enhanced the entire retreat experience, and I left with a profound sense of personal evolution.In conclusion, Sen Wellness Sanctuary is more than just a retreat; it's a haven for personal growth and well-being. I completed the program with a genuine feeling of having evolved into a new person. I highly recommend Sen to anyone seeking a transformative and rejuvenating experience.Thank you, Sen Wellness Sanctuary, for the exceptional hospitality. I look forward to returning in the future!Linda D.Linda D.1707311735 ★★★★★ I have spent time in very austere ashrams through to very high end spa retreats but, Sen Sanctuary is in a league of its own, it is the only place I have ever been where I haven’t for one moment thought, what am I doing here? It is unique in its ability to blend wellness, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, diet and joy in a relaxed, unpretentious and thoughtful environment. Every member of staff is there to guide you on your way ,all you have to do is turn up with an open heart and mind!I first went there in March 2023 having met the amazing Dr Sam in London and I returned again in January 2024, both times unique, both times wonderful. I have no doubt I will go back again and again.Sen Wellness Sanctuary is a place built with love and integrity straight from Dr Sam’s heart to every one who has the great good fortune of staying there.Anne S.Anne S.1705512394 ★★★★☆ Wir haben fünf Tage im Sen Wellness verbracht und die Zeit sehr genossen. Die Anlage befindet sich direkt zwischen Meer und Lagune (Achtung - die nächstgelegene Badestelle ist etwa 35 Minuten zu Fuss entfernt!), einige der Zimmer direkt neben einem Mangrovenwäldchen. Ein grosses Kompliment geht an die Therapeutinnen, die mit viel Engagement und Erfahrung die Ayurveda-Behandlungen durchgeführt haben. Das Essen ist gut - allerdings nicht streng ayurvedisch (also auch nicht auf die individuellen Bedürfnisse angepasst), das sollte man vielleicht wissen. Die allgemeinen Aufenthaltsräume sind neu renoviert und mit viel Liebe zum Detail hergerichtet. Die - verhältnismässig eher teureren - Apartements sind mittlerweile etwas in die Jahre gekommen (sollen wohl aber in diesem Jahr renoviert werden). Alles in allem eine sehr schöne Erfahrung, die ich wirklich gut weiter empfehlen kann!Ryan S.Ryan S.1702232215 ★★★★★ First of all, I’d like to thank everyone working at this place for making it so magical. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and found it so incredibly rejuvenating - from the organic food, top notch Ayurvedic massages, health advice, breathwork, yoga, community.. the retreat is truly unique and unmatched.. it’s really a place that welcomes everyone and caters to each and every person’s needs. I loved connecting with others on the retreat too. I stayed for 3 short nights, but will remember the experience for a lifetime.Elisa B.Elisa B.1701430042 ★★★★★ I just came back after spending a week at Sen Wellness, and the experience was above my expectations.The location is beautiful, immerse in nature and with an amazing beach available.Yoga and meditation classes vary every day, and I can say I learnt so much.The main feedback I’d like to leave is about the team: all of them did everything in their power to make us guests happy, they personally cared about our wellbeing.I can say I came back relaxed, but also changed and nourished internally, I’m looking at problems with a different perspective.I am already planning to be back!Pia S.Pia S.1697801887 ★★★★★ All I could have asked for in an Ayurveda retreat. Beautiful place and nature, with lovely people and a lot of thought and intention in the programs.Richard SRichard S1697016861 ★★★★★ hat an incredible place and lovely team and special stay. Situated between the beach and the lagoon you are surrounded by wildlife and feel completely isolated from the outside world. The treatments, food and yoga/meditation work together to ensure an incredibly restorative and nourishing stay. Ten days seemed a good length of time to stay to maximise the benefits.Thank you to all the team at Sen for a magical stayMithi T.Mithi T.1694508202 ★★★★★ Heaven on earth. A must-visit if you wish to disconnect and self-connect.Irene Boñal B.Irene Boñal B.1693817075 ★★★★★ I came for the second time to this place and it can never disappoint… a truly healing place where you can connect with yourself and with others. I have met some amazing people here both times I have come. The staff really care and worry about you. Thank you ♥️ the first time’s review (last year’s) is just below which still applies.Mind-blowing experience. I am so happy I came to this place - I was planning for 5 days and stayed 10! All the team made me feel like home since I arrived. The kitchen staff are super nice and the food is amazing and healthy! The doctor and masseurs listened to me and gave me a therapy adapted to my needs from the very first day. The doctor, managers and reception were also always there for everything I needed. The yoga teachers are amazing healers that guided me through my journey in the sanctuary and for my home. I know I’ll apply their yoga and spiritual teachings in mind for my daily life. On top of that, a monk comes every week to have a 1-to-1 session with you. Personally, this was a very productive session for me!Moreover, the mini pool in the beach has an amazing sunshine - I’d recommend everyone to go one morning when in here!Amazing place to reconnect with myself which is what I was looking for. I’ll definitely come back😊Elaine L.Elaine L.1693770775 ★★★★★ The most nourishing, relaxing and healing week I have ever experienced in the most beautiful setting!! 7-day Ayurvedic and Yoga retreat left me feeling like a new person. I will definitely be returning.Jill L.Jill L.1693328040 ★★★★★ My two trips to the Sanctuary were equally special. Both were in January, one in 2016 and then again in 2020. It was a perfect way to start the year. The sheer beauty of this part of Sri Lanka is restorative in itself, but when coupled with the luxury and care of the Sanctuary, it becomes a deeply healing experience. I will go back again as soon as I can.Di S.Di S.1693132092 ★★★★★ I arrived exhausted and frazzled from a flight that had lost my bag in transit with the clothes I left London in and raging sinuses from the plane's insanely fierce aircon. Within days the sinus infection was healed with Ayurveda. This was the start of a 10 day healing journey that was pure magic. I stayed in an eco cabana - bed super comfy! - waking up to amazing birdsong. The nature here is lush (bring your mozzie spray!) , the complex open and airy, the food delicious (mainly veggie). Everyone on the team - from the Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners, the amazing manager, the chef and his crew, the yoga teachers to the boys who do the cleaning know what they're doing and radiate positive energy. Days are structured but the vibe is relaxed, open and easy. The Cacao ceremony was amazing. The Fire ceremony also. I'd go back in a heartbeat.js_loader

Author

Sam Kankanamge
Sam Kankanamge

Sam Kankanamge BSc (Hons) Osteo, DPO, Dip.Acu is an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional, with over 25 years-experience transforming patients’ health.