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Can Psychedelics Treat Long-Covid’s Debilitating Symptoms? 

A new case study suggests that psychedelics might offer long Covid sufferers relief from chronic ailments.

DoubleBlind Mag

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DoubleBlind // Science

Long Covid is one of the biggest healthcare challenges facing the post-pandemic world, with scientists yet to find effective or broad treatment options for the chronic and often debilitating condition. While it might sound like a stretch at first, a movement to study whether psychedelics can treat long Covid is growing, thanks to a number of patients who can attest to their effectiveness in managing chronic symptoms. 

A recent case study, published on May 28 in Clinical Case Reports, presents the case of a 41-year-old fully vaccinated woman with a history of migraines since adolescence. One month after her Covid diagnosis, the woman continued to experience symptoms including severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, joint pain, brain fog, headaches that were different from her migraines, and a sharp decrease in libido. The woman at first tried holistic treatments like massage, intermittent fasting, acupuncture, and meditation, but found them only mildly helpful as her symptoms only improved while she was actively engaging in these activities. She was also referred to a long-Covid clinic, but was never seen due to the long waitlist. 

The woman thus decided to try psychedelics under the guidance of a therapist. She started with a 1-gram dose of whole fruit psilocybin mushrooms and, about three weeks later, did another dose combining 125 milligrams of MDMA with 4 grams of psilocybin mushrooms prepared in tea. Six weeks later, she did another 2-gram dose of psilocybin mushrooms. After each dose, the woman found marked and prolonged improvements in her symptoms and was able to return to work and school. The researchers noted that, to their knowledge, this woman’s report was the first case study looking into the potential efficacy of psychedelics for long-Covid. 

READ: Should You Take Psychedelics While You’re Sick with COVID?

The mechanisms by which psychedelics could treat long Covid are still not understood, and this woman’s case study was based on anecdotal, self-reported evidence with survey data. Citing previous studies into how psychedelics regulate neurotransmitters, stimulate neuroplasticity, and decrease inflammation in the central nervous system, the researchers behind the study hypothesized that these properties could be effective in treating the brain-related symptoms of long Covid. 

However, it is important to note that while more long Covid sufferers are experimenting with psychedelics to manage their symptoms, there’s still no definitive cure for this chronic condition.

Other potential drugs are also being studied. Last month, a team of University of Minnesota researchers in a phase 3 clinical trial found that metformin, an FDA-approved diabetes drug, can stop the Covid virus from replicating, which may prevent both disease severity and long-term complications. The list of potential treatments is thus growing, but the field urgently needs larger, and better-funded research projects to help the millions of long Covid patients still suffering in the dark. 

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