According to some reports, as many as 20% of those who contract COVID-19 are experiencing symptoms of Long COVID. The CDC and Dr. Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to the President, characterize long COVID as post-viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
Toni Tizon-Damiano is a functional Nurse Practitioner and the founder of Roots Wellness and Functional Medicine here in Los Angeles. We love to speak with practitioners like Toni when it comes to conditions like Long COVID fatigue. Toni specializes in identifying the root causes behind her patients’ issues, therefore applying a more personalized medical approach to their treatment. According to Toni, that process often includes an in-depth analysis of hormones, gut testing, biomarker analysis, heavy metal testing and beyond.
We heard about Toni from a few friends who had some success alleviating Long COVID symptoms under her care. When we found out that Toni incorporates NAD drips, LDN, and infrared sauna in her protocol, we thought we’d ask her to unpack her approach with us. If you’re interested in alternative or holistic approaches to wellness and healthcare, read on…
First, what is “Long Covid?”
The term “Long Covid” is the Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV, also known as Long Haulers and is a term used for those who have symptoms even after the acute infection from Covid-19 have gone.
While most symptoms are individualized, the majority of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 are able to recover in no more than 2–3 weeks. Long Covid is diagnosed to those who are past the time period of acute illness, so 2-3 weeks. These individuals will have tested negative for Covid-19 with varying symptoms.
Symptoms include but are not limited to: fatigue, muscle aches, chest pain, hair loss, loss of smell and taste, insomnia, anxiety, depression, shortness of breath, brain fog, worsened symptoms after exercising. I most often see Long Covid fatigue, anxiety and depression.
Why do the effects of the virus live on?
This is a good question and remains a mystery. There are several studies being conducted as we speak, and what has been found is a correlation between Covid Longhaulers and inflammation.
Inflammation is a normal healthy response, but when the body has chronic inflammation and immune system issues, inflammation becomes a problem — especially for those who have had Covid-19.
I have also found that the virus will attack and weaken those who already have an underlying issue. For instance, I am seeing Longhaulers with anxiety and depression after Covid who I believe already had an underlying, undiagnosed issue. I am finding methylation issues, vitamin and antioxidant deficiencies, toxic burden, oxidative stress, and more.
Autoimmunity can be triggered by Covid-19. With autoimmune disease, cells get attacked as if they are foreign invaders, or as if they are a virus that is not supposed to be there. This triggers an inflammatory process destroying its own tissues. So when inflammation is high, a virus like Covid-19 will worsen and exacerbate symptoms.
How are you currently supporting clients’ recovery
+ flattening long haul symptoms?
The treatment for long haul depends on what their symptoms are and what I find. The treatment is anecdotal based on my experience of what has worked for others.
I first take a look at patient history, then an in-depth lab analysis to see what is missing and what can be supplemented. This includes gut testing, a methylation panel, nutrient panel, and more. I look at lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress factors. I then treat accordingly.
Most have done very well with an NAD IV drip once per week for 4-6 weeks. By improving energy at the mitochondrial level with NAD (learn more about NAD here), the patient will have an improvement in overall energy, but again for Covid specifically this is anecdotal.
I also have added low dose naltrexone or LDN, which has been used for addiction but has also been found to lower inflammation. Low dose naltrexone has been prescribed for 40+ years with an outstanding safety record and has been used to treat autoimmune diseases and viral infections since the mid-80s.
In addition to those treatments, I recommend infrared sauna. I usually have patients do once per week and then can start to increase to 2-3 times per week.
More about using NAD+
Benefits of using NAD include anti-aging effects, mood enhancing, reduction in depression and anxiety, enhanced athletic performance, a reduction in inflammation, helps in addiction and cravings, cellular regeneration and more!
Brain fog and fatigue are the most common complaints I hear. NAD IV is best for this because it increases energy at the cellular level and with IV, NAD goes 100% to the cells.
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide is a coenzyme found in every single cell in our bodies. It is necessary for the production of energy or ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) essentially, energy that is needed by all of our cells.
We use the term NAD when administered, however it is actually NAD+. The plus is not eliminated from NAD when we give NAD IV, but for simplicity we will use the term NAD. NAD declines as we age and is a required element in the functionality of sirtuins, a very important group of proteins that have been well studied in aging. Sirtuins are known as the longevity proteins necessary for metabolic functions and cellular energy production.
When NAD is given through IV, 100% of it goes straight to the cells and can increase these cellular functions, increasing cellular energy, regenerating our cells and providing our cells with the needed coenzyme necessary for the production of sirtuins.
The benefits can be felt immediately, or days later. Some people feel it right away, some feel subtle relief, but the benefit is absolutely there.
For those who may not have access to these treatments,
where can they start?
I have had patient’s that are unable to do the IV. They can be sent home with a prescription for subcutaneous injections of NAD. There are some topical, oral, and intranasal NAD doses out there but I have not tried them. I usually do injectable NAD because it bypasses the gut. If they have gut issues, then these other delivery methods for NAD will offer less absorption.
How do you support your clients in avoiding Covid or dealing with its early onset to help stave off long haul?
I advise almost all of my clients to keep up with Vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins and glutathione.
I support glutathione by giving patients N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a precursor to glutathione. I also recommend periodic NAD IV and glutathione. These are my favorite immune support supplements. I also make sure my patients get good sleep, plenty of exercise, and eat clean.
I worked days and nights during the second wave of Covid in the emergency department and I still work part time in urgent care. I am exposed constantly, yet I have not contracted Covid-19 yet. I believe when I do get the virus, my symptoms will be very mild simply because I’m doing so much to support my immunity.
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