Contents: Introduction, Background, Case A, Case B, Discussion, Conclusions
The term ‘Long Covid’ (also known as post-acute Covid-19 syndrome) describes the chronic symptoms which linger or develop at least a month after having first contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Since late 2020, I have been approached by a slow but steady stream of clients who have been unable to shake off Long Covid. There are several reasons for this. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many doctors have been too overwhelmed treating acute Covid to have the extra time to manage patients’ subsequent symptoms. Beyond this, medical science is simply stumped about how to deal with Long Covid: a problem which also applies to so many other chronic illnesses. Given that the individual symptoms of Long Covid usually vary quite widely, it seems to me that the typical approach of Western medicine in targeting an illness with a single drug or (set of drugs) is doomed to failure.
Water fasting avoids this whole problem by boosting the entire immune system, so that the body can return to full health under its own steam. In fact, this approach has proven to be highly effective, with an extended water fast having fully healed 75% of the clients I’ve worked with so far.
The aim of this article is to provide two case reports which illustrate how this process typically takes place. I also hope it inspires anyone suffering from Long Covid to do the same, and use an extended water fast to empower the body to make a full recovery.
The scale of Long Covid is only beginning to be appreciated. The Office of National Statistics (UK) estimates that 22.1% of all people continue to experience symptoms five weeks after first contracting the virus.[i] Of those hospitalised, various surveys estimate that 50% to 80% continue to experience symptoms three months after the onset of Covid-19.[ii] Even less well understood are the psychological ramifications of Covid. A recent study in the Lancet estimates that 33.6% of those with a previous Covid infection went on to develop or have a relapse of a psychological or neurological condition in the following six months.[iii] In terms of total figures, approximately 1.1 million people are currently estimated to suffer from Long Covid in the UK alone: that is, 1.7% of the entire population (April, 2021).[iv] In a country the size of the US, this would translate into nearly 6 million people.
Clearly, Long Covid is a huge problem which isn’t going to go away any time soon. Many people are suffering silently, with no idea how they can return to normal life. As illustrated by the two cases below, an extended water fast is effective in healing Long Covid regardless of how long the symptoms have persisted. Case A concerns a client who had contracted Covid just over a month before we met, whereas Case B concerns a client who had been suffering from Long Covid for nearly a year.
Client A, a 38-year-old female, contracted Covid-19 in December 2020: one month prior to the fast. During the acute phase of her illness, symptoms presented for 11 days and included:
Persistent rattling cough, dyspnoea (esp. tightness in the chest), hypoxia (resting blood oxygen saturation 93%), fever (38.5+C/101.5+F), elevated BP (153/90), headache, nausea, diarrhea.
After her initial recovery, Client A continued to experience:
Dyspnoea, hypoxia and elevated BP upon movement, chronic exhaustion, thickened blood, fatty liver.
Client A’s health had not been ideal before contracting Covid, and she had been diagnosed with high insulin levels (fasting mlU/I: 25) and 50% body-fat content. Given the severity of her Covid symptoms (both acute and post-acute) and the time elapsed since first contracting Covid, as well as her prior health issues and the need to address pre-diabetes, we decided the best course of action would be to undertake a 21-day water fast with possible periods of dry fasting inserted into the 21 days. (Please see the ‘Discussion’ section below for an explanation regarding why periods of dry fasting were considered.)
This was Client A’s first zero-calorie fast. However, her prior history with alternative day fasting (ADF) provided both an element of psychological security as well as physical experience in activating a strong degree of ketosis. This permitted a smooth start to the fast, with only a minimal loss of energy and no detox symptoms over the first 3 days.
Day 4 of the fast: Client A’s Covid symptoms returned, including:
Cough, tightness in the chest, elevated BP and anxiety.
This was accompanied by more general detox symptoms, including:
Elevated heartrate and a lower back ache.
Day 5: these symptoms disappeared.
Day 7 (which we had originally identified as the likely first dry fasting period): Client A expressed that she was uncomfortable with the idea. We decided to pursue a water-only fast.
Day 9: Client A’s Covid symptoms returned again, but less intensely than on Day 4. She also experienced low energy levels and was feeling depressed.
Day 10: Client A’s Covid symptoms disappeared, but her urine had turned darkish and brown, likely due to increased levels of cleansing and possible dehydration. We increased hydration.
Day 11: Client A experienced nausea and weakness. Because of the need to continue her job, we decided to temporarily follow a low-calorie juicing protocol (250 kcal/day) in order to decrease the rate of cleansing, thereby managing detox symptoms.
Day 15: all detox symptoms had disappeared, and Client A returned to a water-only fast.
Day 17: Client A ended the fast earlier than planned because of an unexpected business trip.
From Day 10 of her fast, Client A experienced no further Covid symptoms. She also remained symptom-free through the weeklong refeeding period, after which we finished our work together. Two months later, I contacted her to discuss the final results. She reported that:
‘I am doing very well and my post Covid symptoms are gone… After the fast my insulin went down to 12 (mlU/I), my blood was normal, my cough was gone and my suffocation (sic.) disappeared. My energy went up and I’m actually feeling better than before Covid.’
Client B, a 28 year-old male, contracted Covid-19 in March 2020: 11 months prior to the fast. During the acute phase of his illness, symptoms presented for 2-4 weeks, and included:
Extreme fatigue (getting out of bed a challenge), brain fog, sore throat, anxiety and depression, chest pain, dyspnoea (esp. tightness in the chest)
Although the fatigue, brain fog and sore throat all disappeared within four weeks, the other symptoms had continued intermittently for the following 11 months. Despite repeated visits to his doctor, he was told that there was ‘nothing wrong’.
Before contracting Covid-19, Client B had been completely healthy and fit. Given his previous good state of health and the length of time he had been suffering from Long Covid, as well as the fact that Client B already had some experience in water fasting (a 10-day fast), we decided the best course of action would be to undertake a 28-day water-only fast with periods of dry fasting inserted into the 28 days. (Please see the ‘Discussion’ section below for an explanation regarding why periods of dry fasting were applied.)
Days 1-5: the fast began smoothly, with no detox symptoms
Day 6: Client B’s acute Covid symptoms returned: tightness in the chest and low energy. These symptoms continued to present intermittently through Days 7 and 8.
Day 9: all the Covid symptoms of Days 6-8 cleared.
Day 10: Client B undertook his first period of dry fasting (36 hours).
Days 15-16: Client B undertook a second period of dry fasting (60 hours). Towards the end of the first 24 hours his Covid symptoms returned, including tightness in the lungs and a sore throat, the quality of which was closely reminiscent of that experienced during the acute phase of his illness. Around the 48-hour mark, the tightness in his lungs worsened.
Day 17: the symptoms which had appeared during the dry fast (Days 15-16) disappeared.
Days 22-25: Client B undertook a third period of dry fasting (84 hours). His Covid symptoms reappeared intermittently throughout this dry fast from approximately the 36-hour mark.
Days 26-28: The remainder of the fast passed smoothly.
On Day 2 of refeeding, Client B reported a feeling of inflammation inside the chest which lasted 48 hours. After this point, he remained completely symptom-free through his 10-day refeeding period, after which we finished our work together. Two months later, I contacted Client B to discuss the final results of his 28-day fast. He reported that:
‘The only time I ever feel chest symptoms is when I do vigorous exercise and I’m pushing myself to the limit while running. Even when I do, it’s minor. Nothing compared to what it once was and mild enough that I don’t really think much about it. I also didn’t realize how much Covid had affected me mentally. It’s like I’m back to my old way of thinking without the depression/anxiety.’
In my experience, Client A presents a typical example of how water fasting can heal post-acute Covid symptoms. In such cases, the fast usually calls forth one or more healing crises, in which the original symptoms of acute Covid return for 12-48 hours. When multiple healing crises occur during the fast, they are usually separated by a period of between several days and about a week. The first crisis is often but not necessarily the most intense. Client A’s healing crises on Days 4 and 9 fit this pattern well. (Given the time required to enter deeper ketosis and strengthen a response from the immune system, it is unlikely for the body to elicit a healing crisis before Day 4.) In my experience, it is also possible for a water fast to heal Long Covid without the client experiencing any healing crisis at all. Simply, the Covid symptoms never return post-fast, and energy levels return to normal through the course of refeeding.
The decision to include periods of dry fasting as part of both Client A and B’s fasting protocol was driven by my experience supervising fasts to heal from illness caused by other viruses, such as HSV (herpes). In such cases, a clear correlation exists between the periods of dry fasting and the onset of healing crises, thus suggesting that dry fasting accelerates and strengthens the healing process.
Client B illustrates a typical example of this. The appearance of Covid symptoms on Days 6-8 of the water fast meant that we put off Client B’s first dry fast (originally planned for the end of the first week of fasting) until Day 10. Given the proximity of the end of the first healing crisis and the beginning of this first dry fast, as well as the fact that the dry fast was planned and executed for only 36 hours, it came as no surprise that this dry fast passed uneventfully without a healing crisis. However, it should be noted that Client B’s two further healing crises did coincide with periods of dry fasting. In both cases, his acute Covid symptoms presented between 24 and 36 hours after the beginning of each dry fast. This also correlates with the period when the benefits of dry fasting are usually first felt.
It is worth mentioning Client B’s symptoms of inflammation on Day 2 of the refeeding process. It is hard to ascertain whether this constituted another healing crisis or whether it occurred as a consequence of refeeding. Certainly, the healing after a 28-day fast continues for a week or two after the actual end of the fast, and it is possible that Client B’s immune system elicited a further healing crisis at this point. The timing of this would also match the pattern of earlier healing crises, in this case occurring approximately 7 days since the previous event (Days 23-25). It is also possible, however, that the specific symptom concerned – inflammation – presented simply as part of a body-wide inflammation which frequently accompanies the early stages of refeeding after any extended fast (due to the influx of nutrients and electrolytes).
In addition to the physical aspects of the fast, both Clients A and B experienced a change to their emotional states. For example, Client A’s healing crises elicited feelings of anxiety and depression in addition to physical symptoms. Client B noted how, since the end of his fast, he no longer felt ‘depressed/anxious’. These observations implicitly support recent data (cited aboveiii) according to which Covid impacts on both emotional and neurological as well as physical health.
Despite the success of these two cases, an extended water fast (with or without periods of dry fasting) does not always guarantee a full healing. Partial improvement is also possible. This tends to occur especially in those whose health is already compromised by underlying health conditions, or in older people whose immune system has weakened with age. Partial improvement can also occur if the fast is not long enough to address all the issues. In such cases, it may be necessary to undertake a subsequent fast to continue progress.
As with any other fast intended to address a health issue, several factors should determine the length of the fast, as well as whether periods of dry fasting should be considered. These include the age and prior health history of the client, any prior experience in water fasting, the period elapsed since originally contracting Covid, the severity of current symptoms and the length of time since current symptoms have presented.
As the world gradually comes to grip with acute Covid, the plight of literally millions suffering from Long Covid is likely to become a growing issue – as well as a continuing strain on health systems everywhere. Because of the typically multisystemic nature of this illness, the usually targeted therapies of standard Western medicine are unlikely to be fully effective. In contrast, zero-calorie water fasting offers the necessary boost to the entire immune system in order to effect systematic long-term healing, regardless of individual symptomatology.
[ii] Komaroff, A. The tragedy of Long Covid. Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Medical School. 2020 Oct 15. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-tragedy-of-the-post-covid-long-haulers-2020101521173
[iii] Tacquet, M; Geddes, J; Husain, M; Luciano, S; Harrison, P. 6-month neurological and psychiatric outcomes in 236 379 survivors of COVID-19: a retrospective cohort study using electronic health records. The Lancet. 2021 May 1; Vol 8, 5: 416-427
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