The Office for National Statistics reveals that 1.3 million people in the UK are estimated to have Long Covid. We ask if CBD could help the symptoms.
Long Covid is a series of symptoms that persist for weeks after the initial infection. As part of the survey, 325,000 people were asked to record their own symptoms. The results recorded shortness of breath, extreme tiredness and brain fog among others. Fatigue was the most common symptom with 51 per cent of participants stating they were struggling with extreme tiredness.
Similar symptoms have also been noted in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
In a study from late 2021, it was reported that 30 per cent of patients with Long Covid met the diagnosis criteria for fibromyalgia. The survey included responses from 600 patients who had recovered from COVID infection but were now struggling with their symptoms post-infection.
The survey was based on the American College of Rheumatology’s Survey Criteria for Fibromyalgia, as well as its Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire. It suggested that inflammation to the lining of the blood vessels or immune system post-infection could be the cause. Interestingly, the survey results revealed that men were more likely than women to develop symptoms in line with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is thought to affect more women than men.
As Long Covid is a relatively new condition, there are not as many studies as there are for fibromyalgia. We ask if CBD could help the overlapping symptoms of both.
Inflammation is a response from the body when it is under extreme stress. Patients with Long Covid experience a cytokine storm which is an extreme inflammatory response. If the body releases too many cytokines into the system, it can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
This inflammation can lead to severe pneumonia making breathing difficult. Research has shown that CBD may reduce a number of the inflammatory cytokines associated with Covid such as IL-6 or interleukin (IL)-2.
A pre-Covid study on animals with asthma also showed that CBD could potentially reduce cytokine production making it easier for them to breathe. The same study also revealed that it had an effect on pulmonary fibrosis which is a thickening of the blood vessels and scarring leading to long term breathing complications.
Patients with fibromyalgia may also experience inflammation. Studies show CBD may help to reduce the level of painful inflammation. One study found that CBD may prevent the hypersensitivity of cells in the surrounding nerves for people experiencing chronic pain.
With both conditions, fatigue is reported to be one of the most common symptoms. Fatigue is a response to the body attempting to fight a viral infection such as Covid. In Fibromyalgia, this can range from mild tiredness to severe exhaustion with flu-like symptoms.
CBD may help with sleepiness or reduce anxiety or stress which may interfere with sleep.
A study examined if CBD could help sleep or anxiety. Researchers took 72 participants with anxiety and poor sleep. They were given 25 mg of CBD in a capsule daily. Within the first month, 79.2 per cent reported lower anxiety levels while 66.7 per cent reported better sleep as a result.
A lack of sleep, pain and fatigue can combine to create intense headaches. Migraine headaches can cause sensitivity to light, an upset stomach, loss of appetite and you may even feel sick. Viral infections such as Covid can make existing migraine attacks worse and they may be more frequent or last longer than usual.
Fibromyalgia may cause stiffness in the neck or shoulders which leads to headaches or migraines.
A study from 2016 found that CBD may help with migraine pain relief. The study took place at two medical cannabis clinics in Colorado. The patients used medical cannabis that had a percentage of CBD but also contained THC. The results showed that 48 patients reported that it had helped to reduce the number of headaches they experienced and the frequency. A further 24 patients found that it stopped their headaches.
Depression and anxiety are common with both conditions.
Coping with the long-term effects of a new diagnosis or worrying about what life may be like in the future.
CBD may have a positive interaction with the hormone, serotonin in our brains. Serotonin is involved with a lot of different functions in our bodies but it impacts a person’s happiness and emotional well-being. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression. A review of existing studies showed that CBD may have anti-stress effects that could reduce depression.
Some terpenes are also thought to have potential benefits for patients with Long Covid. Terpenes give plants their smell and taste. Different terpenes can be found in CBD or cannabis strains and are thought to be associated with certain health benefits. Pine needles are a great example of a terpene.
Beta-caryophyllene which can be found in hops, cloves and rosemary also interacts with the CB2 receptors in the body. Due to its interaction with this receptor, it may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immunomodulatory properties.
As a result, it may help with infection, immunity, and inflammation. All of which are experienced by those with Long Covid.
Myrcene is another terpene commonly found in thyme and lemongrass that may be helpful for fibromyalgia. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and also, may help with sleep issues.
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