Can Medicinal Cannabis be used to treat Long Covid 19?

In March 2020, the world was plunged into a large degree of uncertainty as the coronavirus disease managed to sweep its way across the world. Thanks to the introduction of the highly contagious disease and its potentially life-threatening impact, nations everywhere were put into government mandated lockdowns. Despite the degree of uncertainty that lingered, no one could have estimated just how big of an impact the disease would have on the world.

The Discovery of Long Covid 19

Since it was first established, there has now been a great deal of research put into covid 19. Research activities have been carried out and data collection has taken place in order to better understand the disease. The results of this research have led to the discovery of long covid 19. It is still yet to be properly understood and the definition of long covid 19 varies. During the peaks of the pandemic, many did not consider long covid 19 a serious disease but there is no doubt it is a threat to public health.

What is Long Covid 19?

Even though social distancing and lockdown measures were practiced across the country, there were a large amount of people who were still infected with the disease. The symptoms varied from patient to patient thanks to fluctuations in immune responses. Some were asymptomatic whereas others developed further complications which resulted in damage to lung tissue and even death.

Further studies revealed that even some of those patients who had mild symptoms from the coronavirus disease ended up suffering with symptoms for elongated periods of time, even if they were no longer infectious. They have been shown to last for weeks or even months and these long-term symptoms are being referred to as long covid 19.

The Symptoms of Long Covid

Observational studies have revealed the symptoms of long covid vary; however, some of the more frequent include:

  • A tightness in the chest and shortness in breath
  • Frequent issues with memory and concentration (otherwise known as brain fog)
  • Long term changes to the patients taste and smell
  • Extreme tiredness

Despite research, it is still yet to be established why some patients who catch sars cov 2 suffer with long covid 19 but others don’t. Symptoms can also lead to a negative impact on the patient’s mental health.

Are There Any Treatment Options Available for Long Covid 19?

Despite a large number of the population currently displaying symptoms of long covid 19, there are no sure fire treatment methods available. Advice has been released to the public; however, these accumulate to nothing more than mitigating symptoms as opposed to treating them.

Advice includes tips that could be derived from common sense given how predictable they are. It states those who are suffering from fatigue to pace themselves throughout the day and if they have any tasks to complete then allow more breaks than usual. Advice also includes those suffering with poor mental health to be kind to themselves and those with brain fog to make more notes. Whilst the advice comes from the right place and can be effective in small doses, it is not the best for giving patients long term results.

What Are the Potential Treatment Options?

Given the impact it is having across the world it is no surprise to find out that many scientists are currently researching potential treatments for long covid 19. The medicinal cannabis industry has been expanding in the UK for a while now and as such is a good market for investment. This could be the case even more so currently given many scientists are of the opinion that medicinal cannabis could well be used as treatment for covid 19. Clinical studies are still ongoing; however, initial results seem promising.

Is It Possible to Treat Long Covid with Medicinal Cannabis?

There was an article published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics and following the same, many scientists argue that the likes of CBD and cannabis sativa oils could be used to treat long covid symptoms. Many state cannabis cannabinoid res and cannabivarin are going to be very effective when it comes to treating patients who are suffering with symptoms even after recovering from covid 19. This will more than likely apply to formally healthy young adults and also those who are at a higher risk of complications following infection.

The Universities of Chicago and Oregon have also published articles that state something similar. These studies (which did not conduct a clinical trial) stated that sars cov 2 could actually be prevented (as well as the symptoms reduced) as a result of treatment with medicinal cannabis acids.

What Are the Scientists and Doctors Saying?

The scientists and doctors who seem to agree with the idea that medicinal cannabis and CBD oil will both be effective when it comes to treating the symptoms of long covid put forward a number of arguments. One example is that of Dr Elizabeth Iveson who continues to put forward arguments for the importance of further studies on the effects of medicinal cannabis.

Dr Iveson states that in her experience she has noticed that medicinal cannabis is an excellent option for those who have ailments which affect multiple bodily systems. This is one of the main reasons as to why some think that it would be effective for long covid patients, as they tend to display multiple symptoms (as discussed above).

Dr Iveson has also discussed how members of the general population are already benefiting from the use of medicinal cannabis for other issues. A patient of hers, Kyle Esplin, developed post-viral fatigue and was suffering as a result. Kyle was successful in being able to soothe his symptoms with the frequent use of CBD oil. The CBD oil was found to be incredibly effective as it managed to provide a solution to when previously he did not think that there was one.

What Trials are Being Carried Out to Test the Effectiveness of Medicinal Cannabis on Covid 19?

There are a number of trials currently being carried out in an effort to test how effective the use of medicinal cannabis is in the treatment of covid 19. In the UK, the NHS Research Ethics Committee, working with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency have announced they are conducting clinical studies. These are being carried out in order to see whether patients with long covid 19 symptoms will witness a therapeutic effect if they treat said symptoms with medicinal cannabis.

The trial will involve 30 human subjects, all of whom are healthy volunteers apart from the symptoms of long covid that they display. Subjects will need to take a daily dose of medicinal cannabis oil and then document their experiences. Volunteers will write up daily reports on how the medicinal cannabis is impacting their immune response to long covid.

In vitro studies such as these are going to be incredibly important when moving forward as the data from them can be collected and analysed. Following this analysis, further research can be carried out and an overall judgement will be made on how effective medicinal cannabis is with the treatment of sars cov 2 and long covid 19. If it is effective then we are likely going to see medicinal cannabis get prescribed a lot more frequently, which it isn’t so much at the moment.

There are also other studies that are currently being carried out across the world. For instance, a clinical study is currently being conducted in Sao Paulo University Medical School by the Heart Institute. These researchers in Brazil will be responsible for studying all of the clinical features that medicinal cannabis could have on long covid patients.

Success Stories

There is evidence to suggest that these trials will be successful. Vice very recently carried out a report on Andrew Bass, a man from London who found himself suffering with the symptoms of long covid 19. Vass is only 42 years old and not a regular user of cannabis. He had only had it two times previously in his life and didn’t enjoy much because it gave him migraines. He states that medicinal cannabis has given him his life back following as his symptoms were beginning to dominate it in a very negative way.

What Happened to Andrew?

Andrew Vass was infected with the coronavirus disease in March 2020. He managed to fight off the infection but in the weeks following began to suffer. This manifested itself in the form of respiratory problems as Vass himself struggled to be as active as he used to be, claiming that simply walking to the shower (which was only 4 metres away) took it out of him. He described his legs as feeling like concrete, hence why it was so difficult for him to move.

Vass also began to suffer with insomnia. He found himself unable to sleep, making it so that he went from getting an average of 8 hours a night to being lucky if he had more than 2. Naturally, these symptoms had an effect on Vass’s physical and mental health as he found himself unable to leave the house as a result.

When Was Andrew Prescribed Medicinal Cannabis?

Vass was originally prescribed an antidepressant known as amitriptyline. This was done to help him get to sleep, which worked, but Vass did not like the idea of having to use a synthetic pharmaceutical in the long term.

Dr Anjali Didi, an Australian GP, eventually prescribed Vass with medicinal cannabis. He was told to put 0.1 millimetres under his tongue every night in order to help him get to sleep. Vass found the benefits of this came to him almost immediately, to the point he no longer takes any other drugs aside from some that have been prescribed for his reflux. Andrew is an example of how medicinal cannabis could potentially be a great treatment for patients who are suffering with long covid. It’s for this reason that more clinical studies and trials are so necessary.

How Likely Is It We Will See Covid 19 Patients Be Prescribed with Medicinal Cannabis?

It has now been over two years since the UK went into lockdown as a result of covid 19 and following such a high number of infections, it appears many patients are suffering with long covid. Long covid is where people who have had the virus and are no longer infectious continue to suffer with symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and a tightness in their chest.

There are no definitive treatments for long covid as of yet aside from some advice which though helpful is not a long term solution. Scientists are currently researching what the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis could be when it comes to treating the symptoms of long covid.

There is hope that this could be effective as many patients who suffer with multiple symptoms to bodily functions tend to benefit from medicinal cannabis. Not only this but there are already success stories such as Andrew Vass.

Clinical studies are currently being carried out to monitor the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis and we will need to wait for more information as it becomes available.