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Long Covid recovery improved by capsule with phytochemicals found in plant-based food, study led by Addenbrooke’s oncologist finds

A capsule that uses natural ingredients has been shown to improve the recovery of patients with long Covid in a study by nutritional scientists led by an Addenbrooke’s oncologist.

Professor Robert Thomas led work in 2021 that showed treating the gut to a blend of five different friendly bacteria called lactobacillus probiotics, combined with a chicory-rich ingredient known as an inulin, helped with symptoms.

Now Prof Thomas’ team have published a second study in the international journal Covid, which shows adding a mix of other natural substances known as phytochemicals can significantly bolster the improvement.

Addenbrooke’s and Bedford hospitals oncology consultant, Professor Robert Thomas
Addenbrooke’s and Bedford hospitals oncology consultant, Professor Robert Thomas

Phytochemicals are found in plant-based foods with abundant colour, taste and aroma. Prof Thomas, who also works at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, analysed laboratory data to determine which blend may work in synergy against Covid.

The capsules now contain purified citrus bioflavonoids, which are a large family of substances found in most foods that are good sources of vitamin C, along with resveratrol - a plant compound that acts like an antioxidant - pomegranate, chamomile and turmeric.

The research team recruited 147 volunteers from the Cambridge and Bedford areas with symptomatic Covid-19 between May and November 2021.

A quarter of them acute Covid and the rest had persistent long Covid with troublesome symptoms lasting on average 108 days.

They were all given a dried lactobacillus probiotic capsule, while half of them were also given the phytochemical-rich concentrated food capsule, and the other half were given a placebo, or dummy capsule.

University of Bedfordshire statisticians analysed the results and found symptoms improved significantly in the entire group. Those who took the phytochemical rich food capsule had an even better improvement compared to those who took the placebo, recording a twofold further reduction in mean fatigue scores, a three-fold reduction in cough score and a twofold improvement in overall well-being scores

Prof Thomas said: “This safe phytochemical-rich concentrated natural whole food capsule significantly shortened the duration and severity of short and long-term symptoms caused by a Covid-19 infection.

“In addition, sub analysis of the participants’ demographics revealed that those more likely to have pre-existing gut condition had an even better response to intervention. This included those with gastrointestinal symptoms, sedentary, older men, or those previously hospitalised.

“I would like to thank all those who participated in the study, particularly as the majority were feeling pretty unwell at the start of it.”

The study can be found at https://www.mdpi.com/2673-8112/2/4/31.

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Capsules with probiotics and inulin could aid long Covid patients, Cambridge and Bedfordshire study finds

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