Long haul Covid: New research evidence shows autoimmune responses play major role in this crippling new disease.
Long haul Covid is quickly becoming one of the most dominant and quite puzzling health issues around the world. Doctors in the US and around the world are baffled and do not really know how to treat or even how to correctly approach this new health problem.
What is long haul Covid?
This is a very difficult question to answer, since it is something new the world is facing now. There is no precise definition for what long haul Covid is, but there are explanations of what the symptoms are. These symptoms present themselves weeks, even months after the recovery form Covid-19 and they can last for months or even years (chronic Covid).
Omar K. a 40-year-old IT executive was one of the earliest Covid-19 patients. He became sick in late February 2020. At the time he thought it was just a bad case of flu. Doctors tested him and confirmed the presence of the Covid-19 virus in his body. He had all the known symptoms, even the loss of smell and taste. What happened several months after he tested negative for the Covid-19 virus is where he got worried.
Omar started having chest pain, fatigue, brain fog, GI problems, joint issues, muscle pain, kidney problems, severe headaches and more. It felt like his whole body was turning against him. Every time he went to see the doctor about these issues he was told there is nothing wrong with him and he was sent home with some painkillers. His health problems started getting worse. The doctors kept telling him nothing was wrong, all the tests they’ve done came back normal and they even told him it was all “in his head”. “How do I make my family believe me when my doctors don’t?” he said.
What are the long haul Covid symptoms?
Most common symptoms include;
- Fatigue or exhaustion that interferes with everyday life
- Feeling worse after slight physical or mental activity
- Brain fog (forgetfulness, confusion, lack of focus)
- Shortness of breath or breathing difficulty
- Persistent cough
- Heart palpitations (pounding or fast beating heart)
- Chest pain
- Joint or muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Depression and Anxiety
Some symptoms remain unexplainable even after tests such as routine blood work, EKG (electrocardiograms) and X-rays come back normal. These patients cannot explain why symptoms are still there and physicians don’t know how to proceed and which treatments to assign to these patients.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) and Brookings there are over 17 million long haul Covid patients in Europe and almost as many in the United States. These numbers are growing rapidly. Most of long haul Covid patients are not finding the adequate help from their physicians. Traditional medicine looks at each problem individually and patients suffering from long haul Covid can present 3, 4 or even more health issues at the same time.
In Omar’s case, he had at least 5 serious health issues. After seeing multiple physicians, specialists and psychiatrists, no real help was given to him and his condition kept deteriorating. It was extremely painful for him to move and eventually he became bedridden. It seemed that the pain medication was making everything worse, depression kicked in and a young IT executive found himself thinking that he will not survive this ordeal.
How does autoimmune disorder come in connection with long haul Covid?
There is more new evidence proving that autoimmune responses are major cause of long haul Covid. New study published in European Respiratory Journal shows that long haul Covid patients have markers of autoimmune diseases in their blood. It is triggering multiple autoimmune responses in all of the patients. Long haul Covid research is still relatively new, but it all points to autoimmune disorders. In some ways autoimmune disorder has become a hallmark of long haul Covid.
Who does long haul Covid affect?
There are some people that may be more at risk for developing long haul Covid. New studies have shown that people who suffered from more severe Covid-19 illness, people who had other underlying conditions prior to Covid-19 and people who had experienced uncontrolled inflammatory response with multiorgan involvement are more prone to develop long haul Covid. Some studies also point at the environmental factors like certain foods that can trigger autoimmune responses, chemicals such as weed killer glyphosate that is being used on our farmlands, health care access in certain communities and more.
These studies are still new, but more are coming from researchers all around the world since this is becoming worldwide health issue.
What are the treatments for long haul Covid?
To answer this question let’s get back to the “hallmark” of long haul Covid and that is autoimmune disease. What is an autoimmune disease? Our immune system is our body’s defense system that protects us from viruses, bacteria, germs and other pathogens. Now, autoimmune disease is when our immune system gets confused and can’t tell the difference between the harmful pathogens and our body’s cells. In this case our own immune system mistakenly starts attacking, damaging and destroying our own healthy cells.
It may be surprising to hear that the father of modern medicine Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut. He said this over 2400 years ago and it still rings true today. This statement is something former heart surgeon and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Steven Gundry agrees with. What Dr. Gundry found in his decades long autoimmune disease research is that the processed foods and some foods we believe as healthy can have a negative effect on our bodies especially our gut. Even over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen can hurt our gut and lead to a condition known as leaky gut syndrome.
Most of our body’s immune cells are located along the gut lining and they keep our gut wall strong. When a person is healthy and everything is working well, nothing bad gets through that gut wall. On the other hand, when the gut wall is damaged bad pathogens will leak into our bloodstream and this will cause any number of sicknesses and diseases. This gut wall leak is what we call leaky gut syndrome. Along with over the counter pain killers that can cause great damage to the gut wall, Dr. Gundry’s research found that a plant protein called lectin can do as much damage as the painkillers.
Lectins are plant proteins that help defend plants from being consumed. These plant proteins can force apart the tight junctions between the cells that line our intestinal wall, they do this by attaching themselves to the gut wall lining. Nightshade plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, eggplants, and even goji berries are loaded with lectins and consuming them can cause intestinal permeability – especially in people who already have a weakened immune system or an unbalanced gut microbiome.
In Omar’s case, one of his friends who suffered from an autoimmune disease and was familiar with Dr. Gundry’s work recommended he get as much information on Dr. Gundry’s diets and lifestyle changes. Omar did that and changed his diet, he started eating completely different foods than the foods he was accustomed to, and he almost immediately noticed changes in his health. Within the first few days he was able to walk normally, the ‘brain fog’ started clearing, joint pain and headaches pretty much disappeared. He stopped taking ibuprofen and other pain killers and felt even better. Within couple of weeks he was back working. He even took his family overseas on a well deserved vacation. Omar’s story is one of the success stories. He said he still feels remnants of long haul Covid, but with the help of Dr. Gundry’s expertise he now knows how to fight it and he’s working towards being completely cleared of long haul Covid and other autoimmune disorders.
Get your own personalized irritable bowel disease care and recommendations from Dr Gundry-approved care coordinators
If you’re looking for more guidance than these simple recommendations for long haul Covid, Dr. Gundry’s unique health program is now available to you (without needing an appointment at one of Dr. Gundry’s two, waitlist-only West Coast clinics).
Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Gundry and his team at Gundry Health, care coordinators trained in Dr. Gundry’s unique holistic methods are now available to help you craft your own personalized long haul Covid disease program.