Can medical cannabis help those with long COVID?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020. A highly infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), COVID-19 claimed numerous lives. Four years later, many are still suffering with symptoms.

According to The Office for National Statistics, 1.9 million Brits currently live with long COVID. Their research indicates that 69% of long COVID sufferers first contracted the infection over a year ago, with a further 41% stating they had COVID two years prior.

Further research unveiled that 1.5 million people believe long COVID has impacted their day-to-day activities. This comes as NHS waitlists now cross 7.5 million, leaving people desperately in search of alternatives for symptom relief. In this blog, we discuss what long COVID is and how medical cannabis could help provide relief for individuals battling its debilitating symptoms.

What is long COVID and what are its symptoms? 

Most people recover from COVID-19 within 12 weeks, but some individuals continue to experience symptoms or develop new ones for weeks or even months after recovering from the infection.

One of the main concerns with long COVID is that symptoms can fluctuate in severity and may affect individuals in different ways.

Some common symptoms include:

long COVID symptoms
  1. Fatigue: Persistent fatigue or extreme tiredness that interferes with daily activities.
  2. Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing or feeling breathless, even after mild exertion.
  3. Cognitive dysfunction: Difficulty concentrating (brain fog), memory problems, and difficulty thinking clearly.
  4. Joint or muscle pain: Persistent pain in muscles and joints.
  5. Headaches: Frequent or severe headaches, including migraines.
  6. Loss of smell or taste: Diminished or altered sense of smell or taste.
  7. Difficulty sleeping: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns.
  8. Palpitations or chest pain: Irregular heartbeats, chest pain, or heart palpitations.
  9. Digestive issues: Nausea, diarrhoea, or other gastrointestinal symptoms.
  10. Mood changes: Anxiety, depression, or mood swings.
  11. Fever or chills: Recurrent episodes of fever or chills.

Medical cannabis for long COVID 

In early 2022, Drug Science announced that the UK’s NHS Research Ethics Committee (NHS REC) and Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved their study to investigate the effectiveness of using medical cannabis in treating long COVID.

The study involved 30 participants who used medical cannabis in oil form, and the findings showed that it improved symptoms and aided in overall recovery. This aligns with new evidence that demonstrates the potential of medical cannabis in relieving the symptoms of long COVID.

Other studies have demonstrated the feasibility of CBD-dominant cannabis-based medicinal products (CBPMs) in individuals diagnosed with long COVID, revealing that it was safe and well-tolerated. Further global studies have also indicated cannabis’ capabilities, specifically CBD, in acting as an effective preventative agent for early-stage COVID infection by showing a negative association with positive COVID tests. This works as CBD can block viral replication after it enters cells, posing as an antiviral agent, and can protect the host against an overactive immune system at later stages.

Additionally, medical cannabis has been found to possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and mood-regulatory properties that could help mitigate and manage some of the most common long COVID symptoms.

Long COVID patient care

How can Mamedica help you?

Our doctors work with you to understand the right medical cannabis treatment to help manage your condition and its symptoms effectively.

We offer tailored treatments for various conditions in areas such as pain management, psychiatry, and neurology, which is especially beneficial when dealing with the various symptoms of long COVID. Discover the conditions we support here.

To find out if medical cannabis could be an option for you, a loved one, or a patient, take our free eligibility test in under 60 seconds.