A Case of Post Covid-19 Myocarditis (Heart Inflammation)
Updated: Mar 16
After I graduated from acupuncture school, I assumed acupuncture could not treat illnesses other than musculoskeletal pain, however, after studying the 1st classic on acupuncture, The Yellow Emperor's Cannon, I was surprised to find the authors describing medical conditions that were very serious in nature. For example in Ling Shu Chapter 10, there is a detailed discussion about the pathways, signs, and symptoms of the 12 primary channels. The first channel discusses the Lung system. Specifically they go on to describe the signs and symptoms of respiratory failure and how treating the lung channel can restore the lung organ itself. This is just one example describing the types of illness and diseases that were treated successfully with acupuncture.
In this case, I treated a young man who prior to Covid-19 was very healthy. He was a triathlete in training for an upcoming event when he came down with a viral infection. It started in his sinuses, then made its way down to his throat. He said his throat was very sore and he felt extreme fatigue unlike anything he experienced before. Eventually his lungs were affected, which he described as being on fire, he experienced difficulty breathing, with severe body aches and fever. His doctor placed him on antibiotics for 10 days but it didn't help. During this period he had difficulty sleeping and experienced night sweating. The last organ impacted was his heart. He had palpitations, and sharp left sided chest pain.
The palpitations and chest pain remained for close to 1 year by the time I saw him.
During the course of follow-ups with his doctor, he found little relief with the chest pain, although it did gradually improve in terms of frequency and intensity following the initial Covid-19 infection. Testing revealed that his heart was enlarged and inflamed. By the time I examined him, his main issues were low back pain (existed prior to Covid infection), which was worse with sitting, chest pain that would come randomly through the week lasting a few seconds to a few minutes, palpitations/racing heart with a small sip of coffee, and during exercise he had to be extremely cautious not to get his heart rate too high otherwise he felt severe palpitations in addition to feeling like he was going to pass out. He felt constant worry about his heart condition.
It is hard to imagine being so young and in very good shape and experiencing a dramatic change in health in the course of 1 year. I assured him that acupuncture could help his condition he was cautiously optimistic.
Based on the following information, the underlying diagnosis was heart and kidney conflict.
This diagram shows the generation and controlling cycles of organ systems in the body. The kidney lies in the water direction, low back pain is a sign of kidney deficiency and physical or mental overwork can weaken this direction. In our case, since the patient was a triathlete with a predisposition to lower back pain, it could be possible that his kidneys were weakened further during training. Since the water direction is weak, the heart, which lies in the fire direction blazes out of control. This may lead to heart palpitations, insomnia, and night sweating, all of which our patient experienced during the Covid-19 infection. Since the water fails to move through the wood direction, he showed other liver signs including a wiry pulse, and feelings of frustration/anger. Successful treatment of this patient will result in the re-establishment of circulation in the water, wood, and fire directions.
Channel palpation revealed, weakness along the kidney channels, tenderness along the low back and back shu regions of the heart and coronary vessels, extreme tenderness along the 4th intercostal rib space, but the main sign was a surgical repair of the pectoralis muscle on the left side. The resulting scar tissue was obstructing the heart and lung channel pathways. This obstruction was preventing his heart from healing and as long as it remains intact will keep the body manifesting the same symptoms.
During the first session of treating the scar tissue impairment, the severe tenderness in the chest with palpation was reduced. After three sessions of treating this pathway, he experienced less palpitations, chest pain, and reported being able to exercise without worrying about his heart rate. He no longer experiences those feelings of extreme faintness during running, although he did mention feeling "out of shape" and that if this is what the majority of americans feel like, no wonder why they don't like exercising. I am glad that the patient may eventually, in time, enjoy the level of fitness he had prior to the Covid-19 infection.
It amazes me that a simple scar adhesion treatment could provide excellent results and fast alleviation of symptoms in this case. Not all cases of post covid myocarditis will be this simple to treat because the causes of illness are unique in each individual and to get the best results treating the individual rather than the illness is required.
With that being said, acupuncture should only be used after a person is no longer contagious. if you have symptoms of a viral infection or have an active covid-19 infection please get tested and quarantine for the appropriate amount of time 10-14 days.