As patients recover from Covid-19, there are multiple issues they suffer. The commonest ones persisting even after two weeks of testing negative are:
1. Cough with a sore throat
3. Post-Covid-19 lung disease
4. Anxiety, depression, insomnia
5. Cognitive issues similar to moderate traumatic brain injury
6. Digestive problems like bloating, imitable bowel, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain
The problem of persistent cough after recovering from a Covid-19 attack is common. Acupuncture is found to be 90 percent effective in such cases without side effects. Patients will typically complain of dry cough, throat irritation and scanty white phlegm. In the acupuncture group, patients were needled at Lu.10, Lu.1, Lu.5, Lu.6, Lu.7, ST.25, ST.36 and T.40. The total treatment sessions were s10 and each session was 30-minute long.
In the medication group, patients were given Methoxyphenamine capsules thrice a day for 10 days and the success rate was 700 percent. Patients develop fatigue following Covid-19 illness due to the depletion of their Qi because of hypoactivity of the Hypothalamic-pituitary axis. Acupuncture was given at selected acupoints P.6, ST.36, SP.6, Liv.3, Ren.4, Du.20, Ub.23 for five days in a week for two weeks, and 80 percent patients showed improvement in fatigue levels. After getting Covid-19, lung disease can be effectively tackled using acupuncture and moxibustion. The principle is to promote, regulate, and stimulate the body’s self-regulating function. Most of these patients have symptoms similar to COPD due to damage to lung parenchyma caused by pneumonitis.
Anxiety, depression and insomnia are common in such patients and these can be effectively tackled by stimulating specific acupoints which release melatonin and the happy hormone, serotonin. Many patients who have recovered from Covid-19 illness complain of a lingering cognitive impact—problems with their memory and inability to stay focussed. This is caused due to the body’s response to infection which leads to blood becoming extremely sticky. This is particularly seen in patients who stayed in the ICU.
Early studies on this problem have shown that acupuncture given at points LI.4, Li.11 DU.20, ST.36, ST.40, GB.34 shishencong, P.6, H.7, Du.16, Liv.3, improved cognitive ability. Treatment was given over four weeks, five days a week, for a 30-minute session. Post Covid-19, digestive symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating, abdominal pain and irritable bowel persist. Patients were given acupuncture thrice a week for four weeks.
The major cause of these symptoms is the impact on the spleen, stomach, and the liver. Acupuncture promotes gastric peristalsis in subjects with low-intensity gastric motility and suppresses peristalsis in those with acute initial motility. Almost 70-80 percent patients showed improvement in their symptoms with acupuncture, which is a safe, efficacious treatment without any side effects.
The author is Head of the Department of Acupuncture, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi