By / January 30, 2024

British Researchers Publish Initial Findings on Cannabis and Long COVID

Researchers from Drug Science, the UK’s leading independent scientific body on drugs, have unveiled the results of a world-first trial exploring the potential of cannabis in managing the debilitating symptoms of long COVID.

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What British Researchers Found on Cannabis and Long COVID

Long COVID, marked by lingering symptoms following a COVID-19 infection, continues to disrupt the lives of millions, posing a significant challenge for both patients and healthcare providers.

In France, approximately 8% of those infected with COVID-19 are believed to suffer from long COVID, according to the “Long COVID – Post-COVID-19 Condition, Metropolitan France” survey.

Many symptoms, including fatigue, concentration difficulties, and pain, as well as sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression, are also found in other conditions that can be treated with cannabis-based medicines.

A review of existing research published last year by the same Drug Science researchers identified “multiple lines of evidence” supporting the use of cannabis-based medicines in long COVID management.

Study on the Safety and Tolerance of Cannabis-Based Medicine

The preliminary study, sponsored by Australian pharmaceutical company Bod Healthcare, examined the safety and tolerance of its 5% CBD oil MediCabilis, a full-spectrum cannabis (CBD) medicine, in treating long COVID symptoms.

Feasibility Trial and Methodology

A feasibility trial was conducted with 12 participants diagnosed with long COVID. Participants received up to 3 ml of 5% CBD oil MediCabilis daily for 5 months, with a dose reduction in the final month.

Health assessments and daily symptom reports were collected. A Fitbit was also used to record key physiological measures such as heart rate, activity, sleep, and oxygen saturation.

According to the study results, no participants reported serious adverse effects, indicating the medicine was safe and well-tolerated.

This preliminary study suggests that CBD-dominant cannabis medicines are safe and well-tolerated in individuals diagnosed with long COVID.

Conclusion and Future Research Directions

The authors conclude: “The medicine studied was safe and well-tolerated, demonstrating the feasibility of CBD-dominant cannabis-based medical products in individuals diagnosed with long COVID. However, there were limitations in the research design related to the recruitment strategy, showing a lack of feasibility in the approach implemented in this study. Future work involving larger samples and incorporating a control group is necessary to test the efficacy of this treatment.”

Despite these limitations, the researchers believe the results, along with the growing evidence of cannabis’s effectiveness in alleviating symptoms typical of those experienced during long COVID, “lay the groundwork” for future research into its potential benefits in this condition.

Dr. Anne Schlag, CEO of Drug Science and head of research, commented on the study: “This is an exciting feasibility study that demonstrates both the safety and good tolerance of medical cannabis high in CBD for the treatment of long COVID, offering a potential new pathway for treating this challenging and still poorly understood condition.”

“With our recently launched drug science consultancy, we look forward to conducting further innovative research on medical cannabis to further develop the scientific evidence base and, ultimately, ensure that all patients who need it can access this medicine.”

(Featured image by Fusion Medical Animation via Unsplash)

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