A feasibility study exploring cannabinoid-based medicine for Long COVID is currently under review and awaiting official publication. This study is a small twelve-person trial that utilized a cannabidiol (CBD) dominant pharmaceutical called MediCabilis. Long COVID is a very complex condition that can occur following COVID-19 infection. With the newness of this disorder and its multi-symptomatic nature, it is incredibly challenging to treat. Since cannabis-based medicines have demonstrated the ability to relieve a multitude of symptoms, researchers are hoping they can also provide relief for this emerging condition.

What is Long COVID?

Long COVID can present with symptoms that affect neurological, respiratory, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems [1]. The specific symptoms and symptom intensity vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Pain
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Breathlessness
  • Dysregulated heart rate variability
  • Impaired functioning and lowered quality of life

While Long COVID is a new condition that is not yet fully understood, there is a hypothesis that its symptoms are attributed to dysautonomia [1]. Dysautonomia is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that controls things you do without thinking such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.

CBD for Long COVID

Researchers believe that CBD’s beneficial properties such as anti-inflammatory action could help relieve symptoms of Long COVID [1]. Both CBD and the cannabinoid cannabidivarin also have the potential to downregulate central nervous system proteins that are related to Long COVID. But before you go and buy some CBD online to self-treat Long COVID, it is important to understand that those products are unregulated and have unconfirmed formulations. That is why this study used a pharmaceutical CBD product.

MediCabilis is a 5% CBD oil and has a formulation with approximately 70 mg/ml of cannabinoids [1]. About 50 mg/ml of these cannabinoids are CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is present in less than 2 mg/ml. Minor cannabinoids like cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabidivarin (CBDV) are also part of the formulation. This is considered to be a full-spectrum formulation that undergoes quality assurance testing that is not performed on over-the-counter CBD products.

Patients in the study tapered up to 3 ml of MediCabilis per day over a treatment phase of 21 weeks [1]. One of the twelve patients required a lower dose than 3 ml per day. This highlights how cannabinoid-based medicines can affect individuals differently and highlights the need for physician supervision and guidance in dose adjustment. The most common side effects that patients experienced were dry mouth, increased appetite, and dry itchy eyes. No serious adverse effects were reported.

Does CBD for Long COVID Work?

It is important to be cautious before drawing conclusions about the ability of CBD to relieve Long COVID symptoms. After all, this was a very small pilot study that did not include a control group. It also has yet to pass the process of peer review that occurs before scientific studies are published. However, the results of this study do suggest that CBD should be further evaluated for treating Long COVID. Overall, patients did see improvements in health measures like anxiety, depression, sleep, as well as quality of life [1]. Future studies will need to pay closer attention to key measures of heart rate, activity, sleep, and oxygen saturation. This study saw some challenges in monitoring devices that draw some of that important data into question. Looking forward, there is great hope that Long COVID patients will soon have more options to support their recovery.

References

  1. Thurgur, H., Lynskey, M., Schlag, A., Croser, C., Nutt, D., & Iveson, E. (2023). Feasibility of a cannabidiol (CBD)-dominant cannabis based medicinal product (CBMP) for the treatment of Long COVID symptoms: A single arm open label feasibility trial.

https://europepmc.org/article/ppr/ppr686531

Sabine Downer
Author: Sabine Downer