Dr. Nicole Sundene
Scottsdale Naturopathic Doctor
Long Covid symptoms are challenging for both the patient and the doctor. There are currently no miracle cures that exist and Naturopathic Doctors are literally left to establish their own Long Covid treatments via limited research studies, and collaboration with other Naturopaths.
LONG COVID SYMPTOMS: RISK FACTORS
As a Women’s Health Doctor, I was concerned to read the research study concluding that women are much more likely to develop Long Covid symptoms than men! First women must have periods, pap smears, and birth babies, and now bear the brunt of Long Covid!
Other risk factors for Long Covid include being overweight, old age, diabetes, smoking, and pre-existing chronic disease conditions. Whether or not a patient has been hospitalized and also required oxygen while hospitalized is also a #1 increased risk factor.
LONG COVID SYMPTOMS
According to the CDC, a cluster of the above symptoms must persist for longer than four weeks to fit the criteria for Long Covid. Patients generally have a few of the above symptoms and don’t need to have every Long Covid symptom to benefit from treatment.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON LONG COVID SYMPTOMS?
After twenty-three years of listening to patients complain about their health, I am now regularly hearing the same type of post covid complaints. Patients describe to me that they feel “rapidly aged, poisoned, sick with something I cannot shake," or state “I feel nasty, dirty, polluted, and rapidly aged like I am suddenly 100 years old. My brain feels like it's 100 years old.” In addition to feeling “exhausted, moody, struggling to remember tasks, easily overwhelmed, constantly tired, achy, sore throats that come and go, and in chronic pain.”
Of greater concern are the patients developing liver and kidney failure due to long covid. I have been taking care of many of the same women for fifteen years and have suddenly seen their kidney and liver function become impaired, as well as elevated ferritin or iron stores as it is an "acute phase reactant" that shows us the patient is inflamed when elevated.
Hair loss is one of the #1 most common symptoms women complain of after Covid, and while hair can grow back, we must preserve kidney and liver function by taking this seriously, taking daily antiviral immune boosting support, and properly addressing Long Covid from an aggressive nutrition and herbal medicine approach.
From Silver to Singing for covid....I have heard it all, read it all, and am here to confirm what is considered safe and trusted by myself and many colleagues. Many of us have been working with similar protocols and are seeing similar patterns of efficacy.
I also don't want anyone to fall victim to misinformation or scam herbal medicine products. There are many snake oil salesmen in the alternative industry making false claims not backed by research, that are profiteering off expensive sales of products. Please work with your own doctor when treating covid or long covid, and be very skeptical of taking any advice from people that sell supplements and lack research to support their statements.
If the person advising you is not a doctor working in the trenches against covid but just selling supplements....please be concerned about their motives.
While I have read some terrifying misinformation on alternative medicine, I will also confirm that using herbal medicine for Long Covid symptoms will likely be the most successful, and also the least harmful for the patient. Herbal medicine is generally inexpensive and ineffective at the worst-case scenario.
As a doctor working on the front lines, I developed Long Covid in April of 2020. So my recommendations are based on my own experience as an autoimmune patient battling Long Covid for eight LONG months in 2020. From what I know now I should have taken the immune support supplements for a month past my covid infection, but I was not that concerned because my initial symptoms were not that bad. I had a fever, mild cough, chest pain, and fatigue but otherwise I would normally have gone to work feeling like that if it was anything but Covid.
PREVENTING LONG COVID
My patients that I instruct to continue their immune support past their infection are not developing Long Covid. This is also what we do when someone is first exposed to Herpes or HIV. We treat immediately and agressively with antiviral medications and supplements.
This compilation of information is from my own personal experience, as well as reading numerous research studies, and collaborating with other Naturopathic Doctors treating Long Covid symptoms. Keep in mind these treatments are in developmental stages, this is a fluid situation that can change at any moment, and that I expect anyone reading this to work with their own doctor or me, as you should not attempt to self treat your Long Covid.
Print this article, highlight the vitamins, minerals, herbs and diet recommendations and take it to your own doctor to determine if the treatments are safe for you to do. The last thing you should do is self treat your own Long Covid symptoms. I always want patients with chronic disease to have a safe and successful outcome.
LONG COVID SYMPTOMS: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS
Long Covid symptoms are even more confusing to diagnose and treat due to the plethora of misinformation propogating about the internet. Many patients falsely believe they cannot develop long covid if they are vaccinated, have mild symptoms, or have had no symptoms or no known exposure to covid. While these scenarios are less likely to result in Long Covid, it is not always 100% true.
Generally, my Long Covid patients improve within a few months with treatment, but without proper diagnosis and treatment, Long Covid symptoms can actually continue to progressively worsen. Optomistic patience with Long Covid symptoms is 100% the wrong approach. I am now treating new patients with Long Covid symptoms that progressively have become worse since onset in 2020.
Instead of the covid symptoms going away with time, they have turned into worse fatigue, worse pain, worse brain fog, and overall worse health. It is not until Long Covid patients seek out treatment that we can begin to halt and resolve the symptoms that are otherwise persistent and progressive. Many patients will resolve without treatment, but symptoms like neuropathy, heart, lung, and brain issues should be treated.
I have already tried and failed with many popular treatments in the media. Ivermectin and Plaquenil are essentially useless in my experience treating Long Covid symptoms. And also now confirmed per recent research studies.
When I first heard of Covid in 2020 I thought, "Well that is going to be a nightmare for doctors in the ER. It is a good thing I don't work for a hospital anymore." At the time I didn't know that Long Covid symptoms could persist. I also didn't know that the Herbal Medicine and Naturopathy I practice is some of the best medicine for Long Covid patients.
Herbal Medicine is inexpensive, anti-inflammatory, relatively harmless, and actually seems to be the most efficaceous approach between all the different antiviral medications herbs, and supplements I have personally tried on myself and my patients. My experience working at Bastyr University clinic on the Ryan White HIV shift taught me a lot about how herbal antivirals can be just as effective if not even more effective than many antiviral medications.
Plants have to constantly upgrade their antiviral mechanisms to survive in nature and therefore we see less antibiotic and antiviral resistance because plants that are not able to upgrade to fight off the latest virus will simply die.
LONG COVID TESTING
Lab Testing for long covid should include Complete Blood Count, Comprehensive Metabolic Panel including glucose and liver enzymes, TSH, Ferritin, EBV Titers, CRP, and if the patient is vaccinated and unsure if they have been exposed to covid: SARS-Cov-2 nucleocapsid. If this test is positive this differentiates antibodies formed by the vaccine vs a natural infection. If a woman has had a change to her menstrual pattern after having covid or a covid vaccine then hormone testing should also be conducted. Women have reported loss of period, abnormal period, painful periods, heavy bleeding and miscarriage after covid infection.
LONG COVID TREATMENT
Do your research and don't trust anyone making false promises about your Long Covid symptoms. If you feel a fraction of as bad as I once did, then you are already frustrated enough, so I will not lie to you or create false promises with my recommendations.
This is a serious disease and patients deserve my brutal honesty.... Nobody knows the best treatment right now. Even if they did it has not been studied by double blind randomized controlled trials and proven effective and safe. These research studies will take time, and Long Hauler's do not have any time to be wasted.
I am not making any promises, and only sharing what I see working with myself and my patients as a doctor that went through Long Covid and has treated many long covid patients as a result of my horrible experience ever since.
I know many people have become unemployed from Long Covid and cannot afford a Naturopathic Doctor, therefore it is important I share everything I know at this time to help other patients struggling with these annoying symptoms. I also want to bring hope to anyone that is suicidally depressed about their health. It is possible to improve. I am better. I have seen many patients get better. We need to give your body the right things it needs to heal, remove the obstacles to cure, and identify the reason why you got Long Covid at the ROOT CAUSE to properly restore health. As many of my patients know I have Lupus, an autoimmune disease. Being immunocompromised is the reason I ended up with Long Covid symptoms.
If you or a loved one need an empathetic doctor to help you work through your Long Covid symptoms I would be happy to help. I promise I will not treat you like you are crazy or lazy, because I know firsthand just how frustrating, scary, and hopeless these Long Covid symptoms can feel.
Rest assured I am feeling much better from my own Long Covid journey and I have more information and better treatment plans along with a better understanding of this condition than in 2020 when I first was challenged with it myself.
I would be happy to walk you through my basic blueprint and antiviral herbs that should help restore your system back to normal over time. Ordering hormone labs and bloodwork is also important to ensure everything is properly balanced.
Often patients ask if I can help them out of state via telemedicine, and the answer is yes. Treating long covid generally does not require me to prescribe any medications, therefore I can easily order lab testing and treat Long Covid patients in all 50 states. Simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page to treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit!
Dr. Nicole Sundene
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology, Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease.
She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan (not Medicaid) and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!