Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Heart, Kidneys, Liver After COVID, Doctors Share Ways to Heal

The SARS-CoV-2 virus can cause mitochondrial dysfunction in critical organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver, but doctors have some suggestions to help with recovery from the damage.

This image shows a 3D print of a spike protein of SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—in front of a 3D print of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle. (Courtesy of NIAID/RML)

COVID-Hijacked Mitochondria

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells, producing energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Researchers usually identify a decline in energy output from the mitochondria as mitochondrial dysfunction.

Professor Keshav Singh, specializing in genetics and mitochondrial research at the University of Alabama, has shown in his work that during COVID-19 infection, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can enter mitochondria and hijack their energy metabolism, impairing mitochondrial energy production.

ATP production goes through a series of steps. The first few steps occur outside the mitochondria and only produce a few molecules of ATP, while the last steps occur inside the mitochondria and produce the most ATP.

Mr. Singh’s 2021 study revealed that in immune cells infected with SARS-CoV-2, the genes involved in the later processes of ATP production, known as oxidative phosphorylation, become suppressed. In contrast, the early energy production processes are enhanced.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia study further showed that the virus suppressed oxidative phosphorylation in the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Family physician Dr. Scott Jensen told The Epoch Times that the study findings may explain some of the symptoms and laboratory results in long-COVID and vaccine-injured patients.

“You could have people that begin to have kidney failure; liver function enzymes would be going up, so they would have diminished liver function,” Dr. Jensen said. “People would present with cardiac manifestations.

“We see that this has happened from the vaccine and from COVID itself. This would be a possible explanation for that,” he added.

Rather than being suppressed, oxidative phosphorylation was promoted in lung tissue. Researchers theorized that this may be because the lung tissues had recovered from the infection.

However, Scott Marsland, a nurse practitioner at Leading Edge Clinic, told The Epoch Times that he disagrees. He suggested that patients may experience shortness of breath from microclotting in the lungs, which can occur even with functional mitochondria.

Common Symptoms

Fatigue and brain fog are common symptoms of both long COVID and COVID-19 vaccine injury, and both may be caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.

Energy depletion leads to severe fatigue. Brain fog occurs due to a similar mechanism, with reduced ATP powering the brain.

Chest and muscle pains, headaches, and organ dysfunction may all be related.

Not having enough ATP is like “not having gasoline in your car as the car runs,” family physician Dr. Jeffrey Nordella explained. Any organ with depleted ATP would not operate normally.

Mitochondrial dysfunction may be detected using a Mitoswab test, which measures the level of proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation. Lower levels suggest possible mitochondrial dysfunction.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Recovery

Treatment for mitochondrial dysfunction is focused on replenishing nutrients that help mitochondria with their energy production, suggested family physician Dr. Miguel Antonatos.

1. Nutrients and Supplements

Quercetin and Resveratrol

Dr. Antonatos’ treatment regimen includes quercetin and resveratrol, potent antioxidants that can help with oxidative phosphorylation. Exposures to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its surface spike proteins can cause oxidative stress to the cellular environment and mitochondria, impairing oxidative phosphorylation.

Quercetin and resveratrol also promote mitochondrial growth. Resveratrol has also been suggested to encourage mitophagy, the process during which dysfunctional mitochondria are broken down and recycled to generate new mitochondria.

B-Complex Vitamins

B-complex proteins are all involved in energy metabolism. To name a few, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5) are precursors to molecules involved in energy production in the mitochondria, said. Dr. Antonatos.


Mitochondria produce melatonin. Apart from being a potent antioxidant, melatonin also maintains mitochondrial integrity. The hormone has been shown to activate genes involved in mitochondrial production and also helps maintain the electrochemical balance in the mitochondria.

Melatonin has also been associated with improved ATP production.


Curcumin, the bioactive molecule in turmeric, is both antioxidizing and anti-inflammatory. It also activates pathways involved in mitochondrial formation, oxidative phosphorylation, and mitophagy.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping neutralize stress during and after infection.


Fasting promotes autophagy, which clears the virus and its spike protein. It also assists in mitochondrial biogenesis and may help reduce oxidative stress.

2. Medication

Methylene Blue

Drs. Jensen and Antonatos suggested low-dose methylene blue to boost mitochondrial function. Research shows that methylene blue donates electrons to the oxidative phosphorylation process, potentially improving the efficiency of ATP production. The therapeutic has also been suggested to regulate the electrical balance of the mitochondria, which is critical.


Ivermectin can bind to the COVID-19 virus and its spike protein and promote autophagy, helping clear the virus and its proteins. Ivermectin is also anti-inflammatory and has been shown to improve mitochondrial activity.

Low-Dose Naltrexone

While low-dose naltrexone does not directly contribute to viral clearance or mitochondrial improvement, doctors have found it helpful in reducing inflammation, which can help the body heal.

3. Electromagnetic Field Therapies

Mr. Marsland has also used pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy in his long-COVID and vaccine-injured patients. Although it has been over a month since he started trialing, some of his patients have already reported dramatic improvements.

“Some patients are two or three days into using the device, and they’ll say, ‘I already have more energy; my muscles are stronger already,'” he said.

The body has electromagnetic fields (EMFs), regions that contain both electrical and magnetic energy. Strong and ionizing electromagnetic fields from ultraviolet light and X-rays can damage the body, while some weaker EMFs can promote health.

Weak EMFs at the right frequency and strength, like PEMFs, can affect the movement of electrons across cells, which is essential to oxidative phosphorylation.

Several studies have shown that PEMF therapy can change the activity of mitochondria, improving ATP production while enhancing mitochondrial defenses against oxidation.

In 2021, the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry published a study in Scientific Reports showing that PEMF therapies enhanced mitochondrial activity in bone healing.

In 2022, several scientists in Vienna published a case report showing an instance where a long-COVID patient was successfully treated using a PEMF device.

“Fatigue, work ability, quality of life, and psychological well-being improved clearly over the course of the treatment and showed stable results 6 weeks later,” the authors wrote.

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