Updated: Jan 26


I think the whole nation is now wanting to see an end to Covid, to be able to get on with our lives and gain some normality. Luckily with the vaccines and the latest, less aggressive strain most people seem to be having a lot less symptoms. However, this winter (2022) I have seen more family and friends in Shrewsbury and across Shropshire be infected by Covid, so, in this blog I want to discuss long Covid, because, for some, the symptoms seem to linger, this could be you or your family or friends.


The UK Office of National Statistics has released data on the prevalence of long Covid symptoms. They estimate that 22% suffer symptoms for 5 weeks after and 10% for 12 weeks after.


Any patient with covid-19 may develop long Covid, regardless of the severity of their infection or the intensity of the treatment they received, patients with mild symptoms can also develop long Covid. The most seen symptoms are fatigue, breathlessness, cardio abnormalities, brain fog, lack of concentration and sleeplessness.


The ancient and continuous developed practice of acupuncture is one of many traditional medicines which at its core, aims to prevent disease. There is a growing and increasingly convincing body of evidence showing that acupuncture, together with movement such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong, can balance our immune systems. The emphasis is indeed on the word ‘balance’, which is specifically important in the context of Covid-19 where the immune system in some severely ill people causes a so-called ‘cytokine storm’, this overreaction of the immune system can and has led to patient deaths. An increasing number of studies show that acupuncture can modulate the immune system and in addition, has an anti-inflammatory action, particularly useful in cases of patients suffering from symptoms caused by the coronavirus. (Arranz 2007; Karst 2003; Karst 2010; Silvério-Lopes 2013; Pais 2014; Pavão 2010; Takahashi 2009; Wu 2016). These studies show that the levels of immune biomarkers, such as T-lymphocytes (CD3+, CD4+), NK cells, interleukins (for example IL8, IL17, IL2, IL 10) and macrophages change in an immune enhancing fashion. In other words, the studies have shown clear evidence that acupuncture increases the body’s ability to fight infections, while at the same time calming the body’s occasional but very detrimental tendency to overreact. In addition to these directly measurable markers, scientific studies have shown that acupuncture reduces chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and stress. It has been proven that these debilitating states of dis-ease have a clear and detrimental impact on our immune system. (MacPherson 2013; Hopton 2014; Smith 2018; Amorim 2018; Goyata 2016; Grant 2018; Chung 2018; Yin 2017)


As symptoms vary in type, intensity and duration, some people may not get the recognition and treatment they need, which will affect their mental as well as physical health. This applies particularly for non-hospitalised patients, who did not have severe respiratory problems and are assumed to have only a mild version of the disease that will clear up in a couple of weeks. (Mahase 2020)


In Traditional Acupuncture patients with multiple, chronic symptoms are treated using a holistic approach, helping to support their own self-healing capabilities to provide better sustained, overall improvement. This approach includes the positive effects on the immune system and inflammatory processes discussed above, which in turn may play a part in treating long Covid, just as they can in preventing infection. Treating people with long Covid to boost people’s resistance to future infection is a major goal for acupuncture in respect of Covid-19.


We are now starting to collect data measuring the effect of acupuncture on long Covid, although it is still too early for any results from clinical trials, we have already seen promising outcomes from individual cases treated by fellow members of the British Acupuncture Council. Many of the common symptoms seen with long Covid have been shown to respond to acupuncture in other contexts such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, COPD, heart arrhythmias and nausea.


Some GPs and physiotherapists are now referring their patients to Acupuncturists since they recognise the benefits of holistic acupuncture treatment. If you are struggling with long Covid and are looking for help call me, Sherrie, on 07967 275502 or visit my website at www.VitalityGardenAcupuncture.com.

  • sherriethorley

Updated: Jan 25


Cupping therapy seems quite popular with Olympic swimmers, we saw various competitors in the Tokyo games with dark circles on their bodies. This trend started with US swimmer Michael Phelps in Rio five years ago. But why? Here are my thoughts…


If you had been preparing for the Olympics for most of your life and then developed muscle stiffness and pain leading up to a race you would not want to use a drug treatment for fear of a drug test scandal, so why not use something that is drug free and nonintrusive? Systematic reviews on the effectiveness of cupping suggests it could be beneficial for muscle pain and strain. Swimmers are looking for a 100th of a second improvement, if cupping therapy can support that, why not use it, it might be the thing that makes all the difference.


What is cupping and what does it do? I treat by using plastic or glass cups on the skin, they hold in place by suction, and I take the air out with a manual sucker, which gives more control. The cup is left for up to 15mins and it can also be slightly released and moved in a stroking action which is very good for large muscle tightness, it is a little like massage, but the action is one of pulling not pushing encouraging the muscle to release and bringing blood to the area. These applications may result in local stretching and decreasing local stiffness. It is believed that the fresh blood supply may accelerate the elimination of metabolites, and this enhances recovery. A study published in The Journal of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine states there is converging evidence that cupping can induce comfort and relaxation on a systemic level and the resulting increase in endogenous opioid production in the brain leads to improved pain control. One such theory is known as the “pain-gate theory”, in which pain is inflicted so the brain “sends back the efferent, protective signal to the stimulated the perceived injured area”.


Cupping is commonly used globally with promising results on lower back pain, however, its efficacy is controversial due to a lack of high-quality studies evaluating the effects, mainly because studies have struggled giving the test group blind placebo treatment with no specific protocol.


Cupping therapy can be done as a stand-alone treatment, it can also be used in conjunction with an acupuncture treatment and has been used this way for many thousands of years. The picture shows cupping treatment signs on Kyle Chalmers, Australian Silver Medalist and the Japanese swimmer Akira Namba. These athletes have used the form of cupping as I have described, known as dry cupping.


References

Bridgett R. et al, Effects of cupping therapy in amateur and professional athletes: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 24(3) (2018) 208-219


Abdullah M.N. et al, The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action, Complement Med. 2019 Apr; 9(2): 90–97. Published online 2018 Apr 30. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2018.03.003


Sources

Sixty Seconds on Cupping, BMJ 2021:374, https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1919 (Published 30 July 2021)


  • sherriethorley

Updated: Jan 25


Here in the UK we have access to a lot of greenery; our gardens, fields and wood lands with lots of protected foot paths across the country, and there is no place better than Shropshire for its outstanding natural beauty. The picture I’ve used here is of the start of a walk over The Lawley, near Church Stretton, it is breath-taking.


Scientific studies have proven the therapeutic value of being in nature and more specifically, trees. Taking a walk does not cost anything but time and it really is an investment in your mental and physical health, not only is it good for your cardiovascular health, but it also reduces your cortisol, (stress hormone) and your pulse rate and blood pressure not only because you are moving your body but trees give off phytoncides, these stimulate white blood cells, these cells fight infection and are essential to a healthy immune system. *


It really is lovely to be outside with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair listening to the sound of the breeze through the trees. It helps us move into a good head space, a place more positive and appreciative, it is a type of nourishment or medicine that helps us move away from the stresses of the day.


Here is a few tips to help us take advantage of what we have...

  • If you cannot find 30mins in one chunk take 10mins here and there.

  • Take a mental break from your thoughts, try and leave them at home.

  • Leave your tech at home, it’s ok to not be on social media for 30mins.

  • Be inquisitive, take the time to observe the trees and shrubs you are walking through, what are they, what shape are the leaves, what colour green, how does the light show through the leaf canopy.

  • Spend a little time in silence, if you are with someone take some time to just be in the environment.

Maybe we can all benefit from a little time walking in nature...


Sources*

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568835

E Niimi Longhurst, 2018, Japonisme, Thorsons

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