Kälte gegen Longcovid – Eine Wissenschaftlerin im Selbstversuch

By Dr. scient. pth. / M.A. phil. Katharina Ohana

One of those affected is myself. As a neuropsychologist and scientist, I have attempted to understand this previously “vague illness” and find a way to improve my symptoms. Here follows my experience and research report: Initially, I was shocked by the helplessness of my general practitioner and another internist I consulted: No one knows anything - that was the first feeling I had. Additionally, there were hints that it could also be “just” psychosomatic - meaning: if doctors don’t understand it, it must be psychological.

However, the famous field of psychosomatics is my own area of expertise, and as a psychologist and trained psychoanalyst, I know exactly: If symptoms suddenly appear after a severe infection (and it doesn’t have to be just Long Covid), it is certainly not “the psyche”! That is to say: no character disorder, no inner conflicts, or repressed fears appear overnight and lead to total exhaustion and full-body pain.

Surely, anyone would be scared if they were suddenly ripped from their active life and could only lie down, constantly suffering from body aches and headaches, and barely able to concentrate anymore. Their usual life ends abruptly – and no doctor has an answer!

So, I began researching myself: Long Covid is – as far as is now known – generally an overreaction of the immune system following a Covid infection and, in rare cases (about 1-2% of those affected), also after a Covid vaccination. This leads to an overproduction of Covid antibodies that remain active and cause ongoing inflammation, especially in the vessels (arteries), the heart muscle (hard to detect even in normal ultrasound), and the nerve cells, including the brain. (This is, of course, a simplified explanation, for which the few experts may forgive me.)

The consequences are exhaustion, diffuse pain, cognitive impairments (i.e., unable to concentrate, find the right words, or remember things). For some people, it’s so severe that it’s referred to as “Fatigue Syndrome” (French: fatigue = tired). These individuals spend most of their time lying down in the dark!

Interestingly, physically active people – especially sporty women – are often affected, and so far, no one knows why. It is suspected that the immune system of physically active individuals is generally more active – which is, after all, the goal of exercise and physical activity.

What can be done?

Here too, it applies: Currently, there is neither a precise test to confirm Long Covid nor an official therapy. The best summary of all current knowledge and treatments, I’ve seen, is from colleague Hirschhausen: Video: Hirschhausen and Long Covid – Hirschhausen – ARD | Das Erste

After trying blood thinners (ASS 100 mg) and another Covid vaccination on myself (which reduces the overactive immune system back to normal for some patients), unfortunately, nothing changed for me: Tired and with body aches, I dragged myself through the day; the battery was constantly empty, like with an old cell phone.

Then, during a longer stay in Frankfurt, I discovered doctorfrost and their cryo chambers, based on a recommendation from a fellow sufferer.

Fortunately, my fear of temperatures like -85 degrees or even -110 degrees was not as great as my desire to finally find a remedy for the Long Covid symptoms. Yet, it really took some overcoming, especially since I often feel cold enough as it is! The gentlemen at the entrance seemed to already know these fears and explained everything very precisely. (And besides, in my own research and in my books, I advocate the therapy idea of “corrective experiences”: Only those who continuously expose themselves to new experiences change their brain and character sustainably – and hopefully, their Long Covid symptoms with the cold.)

So, I tried the -85 degrees chamber for 4.5 minutes at an introductory price, wearing underwear with the accessories provided by doctorfrost: hat, gloves, felt slippers, and a surgical mask (which we all know too well by now). You shuffle around, looking through the glass door at the tablet outside in the private anteroom, which clearly shows the time counting down, and you wonder that while it is cold, you do not freeze internally.

Then, as I dressed again, I first noticed that I suddenly felt warm and my metabolism became very active. This lasted about 2 hours.

The next day – and this is important – I tried it again. Because inflammation – one of the main causes of Long Covid – only improves if exposed to the cold multiple times. Cold has been an ancient remedy against inflammation – since antiquity, not only heat but also cold has been considered a therapeutic form (ancient Greek: Frost/Ice = Kryos = Cryotherapy, as it is also called). That’s why cryotherapy is already recognized and covered by some health insurances for rheumatism complaints (joint inflammation). After a week, I even went into the -110 degrees chamber, also for two consecutive days for 1.5 minutes each – and now I even feel my spinal disc problems much less than before. Afterward, you feel like you’re Super-Woman. And after all those months with this really extremely silly illness, the cryo chamber is like a miracle cure because I could hardly remember what it’s like to have energy, to be pain-free.

Please, as a Long Covid patient, make sure to get an MRI examination by an internist or cardiologist to check if the heart muscle is inflamed. This is important anyway, as it can become very dangerous and occurs more frequently in the first months after the onset of the disease.

Those who want to learn more about current research on Long Covid can find the latest info at the link to the University of Jena, which has just launched a major research program: https://www.uniklinikum-jena.de/Forschung/Covid_19_Forschung-p-24560.html

And for those whom the cold does not help (which is also supposed to make you young, slim, and beautiful because it stimulates the metabolism), I keep my fingers crossed that you find something else soon. For me, it was like a liberation – especially from my helplessness.

There are also cryo centers in other major cities, but often what is labeled as -110 degrees is not really -110 degrees inside. You need a so-called pre-chamber for these very low temperatures: you spend the first 30 seconds at -60 degrees in the pre-chamber before switching to the main chamber at -110 degrees for 1-2 minutes (on the way out, you linger again for 30 seconds in the pre-chamber).

This is also important to know because without such a pre-chamber, as doctorfrost in Frankfurt has, many providers do not actually reach -110 degrees; because: once the door is opened at room temperature, all the extreme cold is gone, or “only” at -85 degrees…

So, if you want the full effect, please ask about the pre-chamber. (But even -85 degrees already helps…)

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me via my website www.katharinaohana.de.

Wishing you success in freezing and good recovery to all affected and their families (who are always involved in such medical histories),

Wishes you

Dr. scient. pth. / M.A. phil.

Katharina Ohana

www.katharinaohana.de

email@katharinaohana.de