A recent study involving over 450 individuals has found that a combination of prebiotics and probiotics may help alleviate symptoms of long covid when taken daily for six months. Long covid is a condition where individuals experience lingering symptoms for months or even years after contracting covid-19.
It is still not fully understood why some individuals experience long covid, but previous research has shown that those with the condition have lower levels of certain gut microbes compared to those without. These individuals specifically lack gut bacteria that produce compounds called short-chain fatty acids, which play a role in regulating immune responses.
To address this, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong developed a mixture called SIM01, which contained three probiotics and three prebiotics. The mixture was given to one group of adults, while another group took a mixture containing starch and low-dose vitamin C. Both groups took their respective mixtures twice daily for six months.
At the end of the trial, participants given SIM01 were found to be about 2 to 2.5 times more likely to experience alleviation of five long covid symptoms compared to the other group. These symptoms included fatigue, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, general unwellness, and gastrointestinal upset. Importantly, no significant side effects of the therapy were reported.
Analysis of fecal samples collected before and after the trial also revealed that SIM01 enhanced the diversity of gut microbes and promoted the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This suggests that the mixture may have potential in treating other conditions linked to disrupted gut microbiomes, such as chronic fatigue syndrome.
However, the exact mechanisms by which these changes in the gut alleviate long covid symptoms remain unclear. Some experts speculate that the microbiome's ability to mediate immune responses may play a role, but more research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms.
Overall, this study provides promising evidence that a combination of prebiotics and probiotics may offer relief for individuals with long covid. Further research is needed to validate these findings and explore the potential of this therapy for other related conditions.