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UK trial to examine medical cannabis as treatment for long covid

Long covid shares symptoms with disorders that medical cannabis has been proved to treat.



long covid illustration
An estimated 1.3m people in the UK currently suffer from long covid

A new UK-based trial will explore the potential of medical cannabis as a treatment for long covid.

Australian medical cannabis company Bod Australia has been granted Clinical Trial Authorisation by the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to study the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis on symptoms of long covid.

The trial, which will be carried out in association with Drug Science, will examine the effectiveness of Bod’s medicinal cannabis product, MediCabilis® 5 per cent, on symptoms associated with the long term impact of Covid-19. 

Long covid refers to persistent or new symptoms that develop at least eight weeks following an initial Covid-19 infection. 

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), an estimated 1.3m people in the UK currently suffer from the condition and one in every 40 people with Covid-19 experiences symptoms lasting at least three months.

Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, worsening chest discomfort, loss of concentration, chronic pain, anxiety and insomnia. 

Medical cannabis products are currently widely prescribed to patients with conditions including chronic pain, anxiety and sleep disorders, so it is thought that many symptoms of long covid may also be amenable this treatment.

Following the receipt of CTA, Bod has begun initiatives to commence the clinical trial and along with Drug Science, is now recruiting up to 30 participants over the age of 18 suffering from long covid.

Participants will be administered MediCabilis®, on a daily basis, over a six-month period and will undertake monthly and daily assessment of symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue, cognition and pain via a smartphone app. 

The results will determine the feasibility and safety of medicinal cannabis and MediCabilis® in the treatment of the condition.

The trial will be led by principal investigator, Dr Elizabeth Iverson, who commented: “We are excited that Clinical Trial Authorisation has been granted so that we can commence this trial into the potential use of medicinal cannabis products to treat long Covid. 

“Given the ongoing and global prevalence of Covid-19 and its long term effects, it is important to take a scientifically focused approach towards the potential treatment mechanisms associated with the condition.”

Drug Science founder and chief scientific officer, Professor David Nutt, added: “Long covid shares symptoms with disorders that medical cannabis has been proved to treat. So this new study could be an exciting and important step for both patients and for our wider understanding of these medicines. Long covid is a problem in many different countries, our hope is that this UK-based research will lead to help for patients all over the world.”

Existing evidence

A recently-published study by Oregon State University revealed that the compounds cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), may have the ability to prevent the virus that causes Covid-19 from entering human cells.

In a webinar hosted by the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society last year, Dr Anjali Didi, a general practitioner based in Australia, explained how medical cannabis had helped two patients with sleep issues, anxiety and fatigue associated with long covid.

Bod Australia CEO, Jo Patterson said: “While there aren’t any existing treatments for long-COVID, our medicinal cannabis products have been used to treat and alleviate a number of similar conditions. We anticipate that this clinical trial will provide us with great insight into its potential to treat long covid and build on the body of evidence for the use of cannabis-based medicines, in place of other pharmaceuticals.”

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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