It was recently reported that about one-third of people who had been infected with COVID report suffering from long COVID:

  • Some 37% of people experienced at least one symptom lasting 12 weeks or more
  • Almost 15% said they had three or more symptoms for at least 12 weeks
  • Long-term problems were more common in women, and with increasing age
  • Higher weight, smoking, lower incomes, having a chronic illness, and having been hospitalized with Covid were linked to a higher chance of experiencing long-lasting symptoms
  • Tiredness was one of the most common symptoms, and in people who were severely ill with Covid, shortness of breath was a dominant long-lasting symptom

These are worrying figures indeed. Common symptoms of ‘long COVID’ include persistent breathlessness, fatigue, and cough; less common symptoms are chest pain, palpitations, neurological and cognitive deficits, rashes, and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Several research papers describe abnormalities confirming pathophysiological damage ranging from abnormal blood tests to organ damage seen on MRI imaging or in postmortem findings.

Yes, there are good reasons to be worried. Yet others might see this situation as an opportunity. One does not need to be clairvoyant to predict that, in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), long-COVID will be the next big thing. Whenever there is a new, common, difficult-to-treat condition, SCAM practitioners and SCAM entrepreneurs fall over themselves claiming that their therapy is the solution. Gwyneth Paltrow’s bizarre was one of the first with her methods of easing long Covid symptoms. The Hollywood star and snake oil saleswoman said she had embarked on a “keto and plant-based” regime on the advice of an alternative medicine doctor. And, of course, it did her a world of good … Gwyneth approves of anything that is alternative.

On Medline, we already find an abundance of articles such as this one:

There is currently no drug or therapy that can cure the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is highly contagious and can be life-threatening in severe cases. Therefore, seeking potential effective therapies is an urgent task. An older female at the Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, with a severe case of COVID-19 with significant shortness of breath and decrease in peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2), was treated using manual acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine granule formula Fuzheng Rescue Lung with Xuebijing Injection in addition to standard care. The patient’s breath rate, SpO2, heart rate, ratio of neutrophil/lymphocyte (NLR), ratio of monocyte/lymphocyte (MLR), C-reactive protein (CRP), and chest computed tomography were monitored. Acupuncture significantly improved the patient’s breathing function, increased SpO2, and decreased her heart rate. Chinese herbal medicine might make the effect of acupuncture more stable; the use of herbal medicine also seemed to accelerate the absorption of lung infection lesions when its dosage was increased. The combination of acupuncture and herbs decreased NLR from 14.14 to 5.83, MLR from 1.15 to 0.33 and CRP from 15.25 to 6.01 mg/L. These results indicate that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, as adjuvants to standard care, might achieve better results in treating severe cases of COVID-19.

A telephone survey included 495 COVID patients in India. 26% of them said they had people used 161 SCAM products and home remedies during and after COVID infections. More than half of the participants (59.6%) among them had consumed Ayurvedic Kadha. Many respondents consumed more than one SCAM product or home remedy.

A recent review evaluated the effect of SCAM on COVID patients. A total of 14 studies performed on 972 COVID patients were included. The results suggested that different SCAM interventions (acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine [TCM], relaxation, Qigong) significantly improved various psychological symptoms (depression, anxiety, stress, sleep quality, negative emotions, quality of life) and physical symptoms (inflammatory factors, physical activity, chest pain, and respiratory function) of COVID patients. The authors concluded that various SCAM interventions have a positive effect on improving the various dimensions of coronavirus disease but since there are few studies in this regard, further studies using different CAM approaches are recommended.

This conclusion is, of course, pure wishful thinking; the available evidence is in fact more than flimsy, and claims of effectiveness are not justified. But will this stop SCAM enthusiasts to make such claims? I fear not. My prediction is that, as this homeopath already indicated, they will see COVID as an opportunity: For homeopathy, shunned during its 200 years of existence by conventional medicine, this outbreak is a key opportunity to show potentially the contribution it can make in treating COVID-19 patients. 


22 Responses to Long COVID is an opportunity not to be missed for SCAM providers

  • Maybe it’s an opportunity to properly test and prove or disprove too?

    • you are even a greater optimist than I am!

    • When was it never an opportunity to properly test?

      SCAM still doesn’t hold to scrutiny. When they do, they’re not SCAM, but become standard medical care.

      I still don’t understand the mental gymnastics people go through to defend their favored conspiracy theory against big pharma trying to prevent SCAM for integrating mainstream evidence-based medicine.

      If it works, so be it! If it doesn’t, why should we even consider it more than placebo treatments?

  • When the pathetic-miserable-wretched-mean SCSM (so called scientific medicine) has NOTHING TO OFFER (except attacks) and leaves the patients alone, be it with Longcovid-postcovid-Syndrome or post-vaccination problems…

    • I did not know that anyone can publish such formidable tosh as the author of the stuff in your link; was that you Heinrich?

    • SCSM? Your acronym for ”demonstrable effective treatment” is bad, and you should feel bad.

      It’s like a child trying to come up with a rebuttal of ”no u” when his preferred version of magical treatment turns out to be baseless. SCAM totally exposes what ”alternative” medicine is.

      It either works and helps people (then it becomes integrated in medicine), or it doesn’t.

      If you think homeopathy is so effective to treat anything serious, why wouldn’t pharmaceutical companies invest in these treatments? They cost literally NOTHING to produce, and can supposedly cure anything!

      Oh wait, big pharma already has its hands in homeopathy, seeing as it’s such an easy cash grab from gullible people (sad but true). That’s a problem that you, as an homeopathy practitioner, should be considering. By trying to fight ”big pharma” and the so called ”scientific medicine” (as if the scientifice method was bad???) monopoly, you’re encouraging people to believe fairytales, and be preyed upon by the same big pharma you so shun.

      • 1) The evidence from the SCSM studies is almost identical to that of homeopathy
        El Dib, R. P., Atallah, A. N., & Andriolo, R. B. (2007). Mapping the COCHRANE evidence for decision making in health care. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 13, 689-692.
        2) I am NOT fighting against big pharma but against the ignorance of the blasé eminences
        3) Big pharma only laughs at the profits of homeopathic pharmacy, which has completely different margins
        4) You have not yet commented that the SCSM has NOTHING TO OFFER for the above illnesses
        5) I know the limits of homeopathy on the one hand and the life-saving possibilities of SCSM very well from emergency medical and intensive care work.
        6) The SCSM’s will to integrate is not only zero with regard to homeopathy, but also with regard to other therapy regimes, as can be seen so impressively in the example of ivermectin or vitamin C in the intensive treatment of Covid 19 …

    • @Dr. Heinrich Hümmer
      Please stop spreading egregious and harmful untruths.

      – Even if real medicine has nothing to offer, then that does not mean that you are free to claim that homeopathy (or any other type of quackery) works – you will have to provide EVIDENCE that it does work. So far, you have not provided even the smallest bit of evidence that even the base principles of homeopathy are actually valid, let alone any specific treatment.

      – There is no evidence AT ALL that homeopathy can help people with Long Covid, and claiming such will have only one effect: that sick and often desperate people become sick, desperate and poor(er) people.

      – And those claims with regard to vaccination are even worse. Many homeopaths try to scare people about real vaccinations in order to sell them ‘cures’ for what they call ‘post-vaccination syndrome’ – or, worse still, even peddle 100% ineffective ‘homeopathic prophylaxis’ (HP).
      As a result, people forego vaccination for themselves or their children, and in the case of HP, pay good money for a false sense of security – because HP leaves them and/or their children still completely vulnerable to the disease in question. This is nothing short of Evil with a capital E.

      As a result, I am sorry to tell you that I have lost the last bit respect for you that I had after our last exchange. It appears that politeness and reason never last long with you. And unfortunately, homeopathy does not have a cure for this problem either (which of course is no surprise).

      • 1) The evidence from the SCSM studies is almost identical to that of homeopathy
        El Dib, R. P., Atallah, A. N., & Andriolo, R. B. (2007). Mapping the COCHRANE evidence for decision making in health care. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 13, 689-692.
        Would you please say something to this fact?
        EVIDENCE can also be supported by cases, and there are thousands, which show immediate reaction to homeopathy (I could give a link as an EXAMPLE, but Ezard would reply with ad hominem)
        DAILY cases of long lasting vaccination side effects react immediately to homeopathy…
        I am two times vaccinated and tell zhe patients to have the vaccination!

        • Mapping the COCHRANE evidence for decision making in health care. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 13, 689-692.

          This meta-review finds that approximately 44% of interventions in healthcare were likely beneficial, and another 50% of interventions can be categorized as ‘neutral’ (neither harmful nor beneficial). Nothing unexpected there. Real medicine is hard, and it doesn’t always work.

          The [above] evidence from the SCSM studies is almost identical to that of homeopathy

          No, it most definitely is NOT. There is no Cochrane review that finds that 45% of homeopathic interventions is beneficial.
          Also, you make the error of disregarding scale: the meta-review that you quote is a review of 1016 systematic reviews, each comprising many data points (my estimate is between 100 and 1000). Which means that the meta-review says something about 100,000 to 1 million interventions.
          Now, where can I find a peer-reviewed analysis of homeopathic interventions of a similar size? IIRC, homeopaths struggled to come up with even 1,000 case reports, almost none of which were of scientifically acceptable quality (many described only one or two cases), and ALL were reported by homeopaths, without independent verification or replication. The vast majority boils down to “We administered remedy X, and we saw the patient’s condition improve”. Which is totally useless information and most certainly does not prove anything.
          As soon as the trial quality was improved, the observed effects of homeopathy disappeared like snow in the sun.

          EVIDENCE can also be supported by cases

          No, you are wrong. Cases are NOT evidence.

          and there are thousands, which show immediate reaction to homeopathy

          I know. This effect consists of the placebo effect’ (and most notably expectation bias), combined with social reciprocity (a homeopath’s customer tends to mirror the homeopath’s optimism), and several other effects that have nothing to do with real therapeutic effects.

          DAILY cases of long lasting vaccination side effects react immediately to homeopathy…

          Sorry, but you are telling a lie here. Vaccination can only have one long lasting effect: immunity to the disease in question.
          Apart from this, homeopaths are medically and scientifically incompetent people who fool themselves about cause and effect on a daily basis. You are by definition incapable of diagnosing the actual cause of your customer’s ailments(*) – and you are very wrong if you think that you can diagnose a link between a vaccination months or even years ago and the complaints of one of your customers. Real medical science has spent decades searching for those links, and found none whatsoever. So please forget about ‘long-term vaccination side effects’ – they don’t exist.
          About those people ‘reacting immediately’: see above for the real-world explanation.

          *: And homeopathy doesn’t deal with causes anyway – it only deals with ‘symptoms’. You of all people should know this …

          • Homeopaths like to rely on case reports (*). Because these are the only “proof” that homeopathy “works”. However, they ignore the pitfalls of said reports.

            (*) Like Hümmer, who refers with tiresome penetrance to his case report, that he was able to treat cancer by means of homeopathy.

          • “Vaccination can only have one long lasting effect: immunity to the disease in question.”
            Here you only show, that you are very very far away from daily consultation reality of a general practitioner!


            So any comment you make in this field is without relevance to reality!
            Wake up to reality!

          • Here you only show, that you are very very far away from daily consultation reality of a general practitioner!

            So you believe that
            – vaccination has all sorts of harmful long-term side effects, which
            – real doctors and real science haven’t been able to detect – even though real science has spent literally billions of dollars and millions of man-hours searching for those harmful effects, with no result, yet
            – YOU claim that you can not only clearly see the existence of those long-term harmful effects – but can even positively attribute those to vaccination, and, even more hilarious,
            – can ‘cure’ those effects IMMEDIATELY by selling people a couple of magical sugar crumbs.

            Well, thank you for once again confirming the fact that more often than not, homeopaths are hugely arrogant self-deluded nitwits who spread dangerous nonsense. That, or you are ordinary fraudsters who knowingly and willingly ‘diagnose’ people with non-existing ailments, only to subsequently sell them instant ‘cures’ for those imaginary ailments. Which of course work like magic … As I said before: what little respect I could muster for you for engaging in a reasonable and polite conversation previously has evaporated by now, by stubbornly adhering to those nefarious myths with regard to (among other things) vaccination. The fact alone that you value your own very limited experience over the huge body of real medical science is enough reason already to stay away from SCAM practitioners.

            On the upside: in most countries, SCAM shows a steady decline in popularity, so chances are that some time in the not-too-remote future, you too will have to look for another, more honest way of making money.

          • Hm … I just realized something:

            YOU claim that you can not only clearly see the existence of those long-term harmful effects …

            All of homeopathy is built on seeing things that aren’t there. Just name an arbitrary characteristic or phenomenon from homeopathy (the similia principle, higher dilutions having stronger effects, proving etcetera), and chances are that only homeopaths have ever reported seeing it.

            This might be considered a mitigating circumstance.

    • Dr. Hümmer, you are absolutely right! They got NOTHING to offer for long COVID.

      Thank God! Homeopathy has something to offer, even if that something is very diluted and next to nothing. Which that a LOT better than NOTHING!!

  • Richard Rasker, you say “No, you are wrong. Cases are NOT evidence”.

    Well, I’ve had the two Astra-Zeneca Covid vaccinations, with no ill-effects whatsoever.

    So that proves EVERYTHING!

  • @Dr. (!) Heinrich Hümmer

    You show with each of your answers that you are a general practitioner, but that you have no idea beyond general medicine. You do not understand even the simple basics of science or scientific research. Your knowledge gaps in this regard are as big as barn doors.

    BTW: Case series have the lowest class of evidence in evidence-based medicine. The fact that you still harp on this is actually only proof of my statement in the previous paragraph.

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