A healing aromatherapy invocation for Long COVID

Covid has rocked the world for the last year, but here in the UK we are starting to see a shining light in the darkness with a roadmap out of lockdown.  However, for those suffering with what has been labelled ‘Long Covid’, there could still be a long road to recovery ahead, and this might feel like quite a scary road, because there’s not much known about this growing health concern.

In a survey by the UK Government's Office for National Statistics in November 2020, around one in five people who tested positive for COVID-19 had symptoms that lasted for 5 weeks or longer, and one in ten people had symptoms that lasted for 12 weeks or longer.

In guidelines for clinicians, published by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), two definitions of post-acute COVID-19 are given [1]: 

  1. Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 for people who still have symptoms between 4 and 12 weeks after the start of acute symptoms. 
  2. Post-COVID-19 syndrome (or Long COVID) for people who still have symptoms for more than 12 weeks after the start of acute symptoms. 

Aromatherapy roadmap for Long Covid

The Government is investing £18.5 million in research projects to help better understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment for Long Covid.  The good news, in the meantime, is – and you may hear this more from a holistic perspective – my experience is that our bodies are amazingly clever, and when treated with a totality approach that considers mind, body and soul, there are ways for us to deeply choose healing for ourselves.  Aromatherapy is the perfect place to begin, so here we share why essential oils should be on your roadmap to recovery, and how you can use them specifically to support a variety of Long Covid symptoms!

Why Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy has been around since ancient times, in the form of plant medicine.   Described by the FHT as ‘therapeutic’, essential oils are natural chemicals which have properties that can trigger the body to begin to heal itself.  As a long-standing complementary therapy, used in harmony to complement mainstream medicine, it can help people to restore their wellbeing and calm the body to create safety for it to begin to heal.

In modern society we live in a chaotic world, and our nervous systems and immune systems can become imbalanced – and this being in ‘overdrive’ does not create a healing environment.  Aromatherapy can therefore be used to calm and slow our bodies down enough to relax them into optimal healing.

Let’s explore how this works for Long Covid…

What are the symptoms of Long Covid?  

Firstly, it’s important to see that regardless of whatever our symptoms are termed, any sign of imbalance is just a collection of symptoms, which can be shifted.  Unlike mainstream allopathic medicine, more holistic approaches like aromatherapy look to treat the individual as a whole. Having said that, it can be useful to identify the common symptoms of Long Covid.  

Long COVID can present with clusters of symptoms that are often overlapping and/or fluctuating. A systematic review has highlighted 55 different long-term effects but common symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath, memory problems, brain fog, insomnia, dizziness, heart palpitations, joint pain and numbness, tinnitus, stomach issues and feeling sick, rashes, fever, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste – and, of course, the mental-emotional side effects of depression or anxiety that are likely to go hand in hand with all the other symptoms.  Many of these symptoms overlap with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (you can see our previous article on this here) – as supported in a recent article by Graham et al (2021) [2].

Whatever the symptoms, it’s crucial to begin with a gentle invitation to encourage the body into its own process of healing, so we share below some beautiful blends of essential oils to help you begin to heal overall – i.e. rituals to improve your general wellbeing to encourage deeper healing, as well as some specifics for the symptoms listed above.

Inviting your body into healing

One of the most powerful things I’ve learned from my own experience as a holistic healer is that firstly, we have to choose healing.  It starts with the decision to heal and from there we can intentionally create an environment for the body to be able to uncreate what it created.  

At the moment, there’s so much fear around the virus, so we need to begin by allowing our bodies to soften into healing – inviting them to be calm, relaxed and allowing them to slow down.  As we can do this, nourishing our bodies more and more with the medicine they need – whether that’s aromatherapy, eating healthily, supplementing our Vitamin D and other minerals that might be required, moving our bodies gently and doing some form of yoga – whatever nurtures our body, mind and soul into relaxation – our bodies get the signal that they are safe to heal.

Some blends and tips for this are below:

The Healing invocation

Begin by deciding to heal – this decision to take autonomy back over your nervous system and your body will really help to begin your healing.  You have to consciously choose to heal, every day – regardless of the stress and the pull of modern life.

Once you’ve made this choice, create a ritual to celebrate this decision to use every morning.  Here is an example:

  • Blend 3 drops Geranium, 2 drops Lavender and 1 drop Lemon in 15ml Bath Oil or Shower Gel and pour into your running bathwater. As you lie in your bath, do some deep breathing, and let your body know it is welcome to begin to heal with the following affirmation: “It is safe for my body to begin healing”.
  • After this, blend 15ml Grapeseed oil with 2 drops Rose, 2 drops Melissa and 1 drop Rosemary and massage into your body after your bath, mentally offering your body healing. 

This is an invitation to your body to relax and allow itself to heal.  Then, we can begin to address some specifics.

Aromatherapy blends for Long Covid symptoms

Here are some essential oil blends that can help soothe some of the symptoms of Long Covid. These can be used after the healing invocation above.

Depression

  • Diffuse 3 drops Patchouli, 2 drops Rose Geranium and 2 drops Sweet Orange in an aromatherapy diffuser or candle burner to lift yourself if you’re suffering with persistent low mood following Covid.

Anxiety

  • Diffuse 3 drops Bergamot, 2 drops Mandarin and 2 drops as needed throughout the day if you’re feeling anxious.

Fatigue

  • Mix 3 drops Geranium, 2 drops Cypress and 1 drop Petitgrain in 15ml of Grapeseed Oil and massage into the body after a morning bath or shower. Use gentle nurturing strokes moving in a direction towards the heart. Inhale the beautiful scent and try and relax and not push yourself too hard.

Memory problems and brain fog

  • For memory problems or difficulty concentrating, create a pulse point rollette to encourage your mind to be clearer.  In a roller ball bottle mix 1 drops Lemon and 1 drop Basil with 10ml of Grapeseed oil and roll onto your pulse points during the day.

Insomnia

  • Mix 15 drops Chamomile, 10 drops Lavender and 5 drops Sandalwood with 100ml of Lavender hydrolat in a spray bottle and spritz over you and your pillow before bed.

Chest pain / tightness, cough, shortness of breath

  • Diffuse 3 drops Benzoin, 2 drops Sweet Orange and 1 drop Thyme in an aromatherapy diffuser or candle burner.

Dizziness

  • If you’re suffering dizziness, add 1 drop Ginger and 1 drop Frankincense to an aromatherapy inhaler and sniff throughout the day as required.

Heart palpitations

  • Diffuse 3 drops Lemon, 2 drops Frankincense and 1 drop Sweet Marjoram in a burner or diffuser to encourage heart harmony.

Muscular and joint pain and numbness

  • For pain, blend 3 drops Basil, 2 drop Roman Chamomile and 1 drop Eucalyptus in 15ml Grapeseed oil and apply to the affected area.  For numbness, substitute the Eucalyptus for Peppermint.

Tinnitus

  • Often, the nervous system is on overdrive in tinnitus and there’s much tension, so encourage healing by diffusing 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Bergamot and 1 drop Helichrysum.

Stomach issues and nausea

  • Use a digestive blend of 3 drops Mandarin, 2 drops Grapefruit and 1 drop Ginger mixed in 15ml Grapeseed oil and massage gently into the tummy in a clockwise direction, to calm and soothe the stomach.  For sickness, simply sniff one of the oils that you feel drawn to most.

Rashes

  • Rashes require soothing – mix 2 drops of Chamomile or Lavender in 10ml of Aloe Vera Gel and apply to the affected area (test a patch first behind the ear or on your inner elbow).  Drink plenty of water and keep stress levels low.

Fever

  • For ongoing fever, try a cool compress. Mix 15ml of Bath Oil, 3 drops Cinnamon and 3 drops Lavender into a bowl of cool water. Soak a flannel in the bowl, then ring out and place on forehead. Repeat when flannel no longer feel cool.

Headaches

  • For persistent headaches, mix 1 drop Basil, 1 drop Lavender and 10ml of Grapeseed oil in a rollette bottle and roll on your temples as required.

Sore throat

  • For a sore throat, diffuse 3 drops Sweet Orange and 3 drops Ravensara.

Changes to sense of smell or taste 

  • For this, the use of essential oils in general is perfect as it stimulates the olfactory system which is the key to your sense of smell – which is also the key to your taste.  For this, I’d recommend following your nose and choosing up to 6 drops (total) of up to 3 different essential oils that you can smell or like the smell of and keep experimenting with diffusing them in an aromatherapy diffuser or candle burner.  Make healing your own practice.
  • In 2018 Professor Thomas Hummel (ear, nose and throat expert at the University of Dresden, Germany) revealed how smell-training with essential oils can help people to recover their sense of smell following a viral infection (watch video for more information).

Overall, the main thing is to choose into your healing, and create some sort of aromatherapy invocation to begin giving your body permission to relax into its innate wellbeing.  Once you’ve done this, you can supplement with additional essential oils for the symptoms you’re experiencing, but the main focus is in the direction of your health and wellbeing in general.  Use your intuition – get in tune with what your body longs for and enjoy using the oils that you’re drawn to - make healing your own practice. You’ll be on the road to better health soon enough.


Nicole Barton
Consultant Aromatherapist

Disclaimer & Safety Advice

Read other articles by Nicole Barton

References

  1. Priya Venkatesan. NICE Guideline on Long COVID. The Lancet. Vol. 9, Issue 2, P129, February 01, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00031-X
  2. Edith L. Graham, Jeffrey R. Clark , Zachary S. Orban, Patrick H. Lim , April L. Szymanski , Carolyn Taylor , Rebecca M. DiBiase , Dan Tong Jia , Roumen Balabanov , Sam U. Ho, Ayush Batra, Eric M. Liotta, Igor J. Koralnik. Persistent neurologic symptoms and cognitive dysfunction in non‐hospitalized Covid‐19 “long haulers”. Wiley Online Library. March 2021. https://doi.org/10.1002/acn3.51350

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