Following the Coronavirus pandemic another, more insidious, medical disorder came to light: long covid. Unlike the more serious complications of covid which seemed to impact the vulnerable and elderly most, long covid doesn’t discriminate.
Young, fit and healthy? Feeling fatigue, brain fog and breathlessness after covid? Long covid could still be the cause.
Because covid has only been studied fairly recently, researchers are yet to look deeply into all the questions surrounding long covid. Things like, what is the full range of symptoms? Who does it affect? Is it permanent and what are the best treatments?
However, there is some promising research showing that lion’s mane mushrooms can help you if you are suffering from long covid. We’ve put together the important information you need to know about the link between lion’s mane mushrooms and treating long covid.
But first of all, let’s start with the obvious question…
What Is Long Covid?
Long covid is a term referring to the possible after-effects of covid. If you contracted SARS Covid-19 (the technical name for covid), you might have felt pretty rough for a few days. For some, covid comes like a bad cold or for others bad flu that puts them in bed for a week.
By the time your immune system had done its thing, picked up arms and fought the offender off, you probably expected to feel completely well again, right?
Sadly not for everyone. Long covid has left thousands of people dealing with longer-term symptoms of illness even months after the active virus was resolved. More and more people have come forward to report long-term covid symptoms that are affecting their health and general daily wellbeing.
The list of symptoms of long covid is extensive, partly because scientists haven’t yet been able to narrow down which problems are directly related to long covid. The most commonly reported symptoms include:
- Fatigue (feeling more tired than usual even after you’ve slept)
- Brain fog
- Pins & needles
- Body aches
- Changes to sleep patterns
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain & discomfort
- Heart palpitations (feeling your heart flutter, skip or becoming more aware of your heartbeat)
- Loss of taste/smell
- Sore throat
These are the issues currently connected with long covid, but as yet, there is no simple treatment that offers a cure.
Could it be that nature has the perfect answer? Could tapping into the power of fungi really be the cure? Research into lion’s mane might point toward a possible solution.
Could Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Help?
As you can imagine, a lot of research is going on now to discover just how useful lion’s mane could be in the treatment or even prevention of long covid symptoms. One of the most interesting things discovered is just how much lion’s mane can support your body during and after covid infection.
The first way that you can protect yourself from long covid is to proactively take control of your health. There’s little to no support for long covid from allopathic medications. Some Drs will prescribe pain killers, antidepressants or anti-inflammatories but many people don’t find the relief they need.
If you’ve visited your GP with long covid, you may have been brushed off with a “it’ll go in time” or “it’s just long covid, some people suffer from it” but that’s no help when you can’t drag yourself out of bed in the morning and walking to the bus puts you out of breath!
The good news is that Lion’s mane offers the potential for some serious benefits because it’s got all the goodies your body needs to fight off or heal from intense viruses.
Lion’s mane mushrooms contain anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, prebiotic and immune system boosting good stuff. Research shows that all of that is exactly what you need to be able to keep covid at bay altogether, recover from it more quickly or prevent long covid symptoms.
But exactly how does a medicinal little fungi like lion’s mane help with long covid?
Why Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Might Work
Inflammation is your worst enemy when you’re struck with a virus. Most of your symptoms are caused by your body’s inflammatory response kicking in.
When your immune system realises its first line of defence (the T cells: the karate kid of your body) is overwhelmed, inflammation is the next strategy.
Inflammation makes it more difficult for the virus to stay alive - unfortunately, this manifests in you feeling achy, tired and feverish.
The problem is, inflammation can sometimes hang around after the battle is over. Leading to chronic inflammation - the type of inflammation we associate with heart disease, pain and many of the symptoms of long covid.
Lion’s mane contains some extremely helpful compounds that make it great at supporting your immune system’s first response (those karate kid cells) while also reducing inflammation.
This means you can fight off the virus with a levelled up immune system and not feel the effects of inflammation so badly.
What has your gut got to do with long covid?
Your gut health is a surprisingly important player in your immune system. And the trillions of microscopic friendly bacteria (microbiome) that live inside of your intestinal tract affect how your body can fight infection and heal damaged cells.
Now, when it comes to covid and your gut, your microbiome is your best asset to keep you well, but it can also be a vulnerable point since the biome in your gut is closely connected to the biome found in your lungs. As you probably know, covid affects your lungs, so having a happy gut biome is incredibly important.
Lion’s mane has been proven to create gut microbes that are good for you. Medicinal mushrooms, like lion’s mane, with a prebiotic effect, also give your good gut bacteria an extra boost of energy, leading to a healthier overall immune system response.
This means you can fight off covid and any possible long covid symptoms more easily, and reduce the intensity of any negative symptom.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are an amazing source of vitamin D. You probably wouldn’t expect that of fungi!
This might sound like fun but irrelevant information until you find out that low vitamin D levels and vitamin D deficiency are common factors in those that require hospitalisation with covid.
Vitamin D is a key contributor to a healthy immune system. So it makes sense that people with a lower immunity caused by low vitamin D would be more susceptible.
Therefore, increasing your vitamin D intake isn’t just a proven way to improve your immune system health it’s also an easy way to boost your chances of recovering more quickly from symptoms of covid and long covid.
One of long covid’s many unfortunate symptoms appears to be neurological problems, with people reporting issues with brain health in a host of ways. Around a third of covid patients were also diagnosed with at least one neurological or psychological disorder, including brain fog, anxiety and tingling/numbness.
The way that lion’s mane helps prevent these brain health problems is pretty unique.
A particular inflammatory protein our body creates to fight infection is thought to be the cause of a lot of the neurological symptoms found in long covid. Lion’s mane mushrooms are able to use their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant abilities to reduce how much of this protein your body creates, massively reducing the likelihood of serious long covid brain issues.
We’ve briefly covered how your body responds to a serious threat like covid, but where does lion’s mane come into it?
Lion’s mane is known for being able to supercharge your immune response. By boosting all the good things and simultaneously reducing all the not-so-helpful immune responses in your body, this brilliant mushroom can support and protect your immune system against viruses like covid and the long covid symptoms that could come with it.
Suffering From Long Covid?
If you’re concerned that you’re suffering from long covid, lion’s mane could be an effective way to give your immune system the encouragement it needs to finally make a full recovery.
Want to learn more about lion’s mane and your immune system? Check out our other blog here to discover what one unassuming fungus can do for you.
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