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The road to recovery: Dealing with the after effects of COVID infection

Author: Dr Faeeza Abdullatief (Unani Tibb Practitioner)

What is Long COVID?

The current recovery rate in South Africa is at around 96.3% (1). Around 57 % of people who were infected with COVID showed at least one or more symptoms of long COVID (2). For these people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or "long COVID".

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), “Post COVID-19 condition occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction but also others which generally have an impact on everyday functioning. Symptoms may be new onset, following initial recovery from an acute COVID-19 episode, or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may also fluctuate or relapse over time. A separate definition may be applicable for children (3).

About long COVID How long it takes to recover from COVID-19 is different for everybody. Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer. The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get COVID-19. People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems.(4)

What are the symptoms commonly occurring in Long COVID?

According to the NICD (5) , symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness

  • shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness

  • problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")

  • changes to taste and smell

  • joint pain

Common long COVID symptoms include:

  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

  • heart palpitations

  • dizziness

  • pins and needles

  • depression and anxiety

  • tinnitus, earaches

  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite

  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste

  • rashes

Aiding recovery

If you have manage to recover from the acute state of COVID but seem to still have lingering symptoms even months after infection then it maybe time to start looking at how you can restore your health to a more balanced state. Some of the general guidelines when dealing with Long COVID is assisting your body to recover by maintaining a healthy lifestyle to support your immunity.

  1. This starts with your diet by including more nutrient rich foods high in vitamins and especially antioxidants from fresh fruit, vegetables and culinary herbs and spices into your diet. It would be best to avoid processed and fried foods that contribute to poor digestion and it is also important to reduce your intake of sugar. On a previous blog we talked about how you can support your immune system, visit our blog.

  2. Physical activity is important but so is rest to aid recovery and improve blood circulation. It is also associated with a lower prevalence of symptoms of CoViD-19 whereas physical inactivity had a 32% higher relative risk for hospital admission for CoViD-19.(6). Balance is key, don't over exert yourself during physical activity and take regular breaks.

  3. Natural medicine has potential in assisting with dealing with the after effects left behind by COVID. This may include supplements and herbal treatments (7,8) that can assist with the symptoms mentioned above in conjunction with looking at the patient holistically from a temperamental aspect and factors that govern their health to restore their balance. In a study done on chronic fatigue patients, cupping therapy significantly relieved fatigue symptoms and improved emotion and sleep condition (9). In Unani Tibb, classical literature the use and benefits of cupping therapy and other forms of regimental therapies in respiratory disease such as Asthma, Pneumonia and Pleurisy (10). In patients with impaired respiratory function, cupping therapy may improve coughing and fever by stimulating the meridians and serves as an adjuvant with other treatment methods (11).


2. Taquet M, Dercon Q, Luciano S, Geddes JR, Husain M, Harrison PJ (2021) Incidence, co-occurrence, and evolution of long-COVID features: A 6-month retrospective cohort study of 273,618 survivors of COVID-19. PLoS Med 18(9): e1003773.

3. National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

5. World Health Organisation (WHO). A clinical case definition of post COVID-19 condition by a Delphi consensus (2021).

6. Sallis, R., Young, D. R., Tartof, S. Y., Sallis, J. F., Sall, J., Li, Q., Smith, G. N., & Cohen, D. A. (2021). Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes: a study in 48 440 adult patients. British journal of sports medicine, 55(19), 1099–1105.

7. Semalty A, Semalty M, Panda V, S, Asrani K, H, Ashar H, D: Herbal Drugs in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: An Overview. Schweiz Z Ganzheitsmed 2012;24:155-168. doi: 10.1159/000339011

8.Das S, Bordoloi R, Newar N. A Review on Immune Modulatory Effect of Some Traditional Medicinal Herbs (2014). Journal of Pharmaceutical, Chemical and Biological Sciences ISSN: 2348-7658 May 2014; 2(1):33-42 Available online at

9. Meng XD, Guo HR, Zhang QY, Li X, Chen Y, Li MY, Zhuo XM, Wang MJ, Shan K, Gong YN, Li NC, Chen B, Chen ZL, Guo Y. The effectiveness of cupping therapy on chronic fatigue syndrome: A single-blind randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2020 Aug;40:101210. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101210. Epub 2020 Jun 20. PMID: 32891286.

10. Joushan A, Choopani R, Agin K, Kenari HM. The role of manual therapy/practices (dry cupping, wet cupping, leech therapy, venesection, or phlebotomy) in lung diseases (2020). Department of Traditional Medicine, School of Traditional Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. European Journal of Molecular & Clinical Medicine. Volume 07, Issue 01. ISSN 2515-8260

11. Abassi et al, An insight into the possible benefits of cupping therapy in COVID 19, University of Padua, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences (19/09/2021), ·


The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Please consult a qualified practitioner if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned and do not use any medications, herbal treatments and supplements without advisement from a qualified practitioner.

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