Probiotics and dietary changes could restore gut homeostasis, leading to a strengthened immune system and reduced inflammation.
According to the latest research, it appears that the most beneficial strains include Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v, Bifidobacterium Bifidum, and Lactobacillus Plantarum.
How it works
First, this video by Gez Medinger provides a great overview of probiotics and Long Covid:
Here's a breakdown of the latest science on probiotics, your immune system, and your Long Covid symptoms.
Gut Health and the Immune System
A healthy gut microbiome, the trillions of bacteria, fungi and other small microbes residing in the digestive tract, has long been identified to play a key role for a strong immune system. Once disrupted, for example due to an imbalance of “good” and “bad” gut bacteria, the body’s immune response might suffer. Addressing and strengthening the weakened immune system might therefore be one avenue Long Covid patients could address to resolve their lingering symptoms.
This study points out:
Unsurprisingly, therefore, perturbation to the composition and function of the gut microbiota has been associated with chronic diseases ranging from gastrointestinal inflammatory and metabolic conditions to neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory illnesses.
Gut Health and Long Covid
A few theories exist for how the gut microbiome might specifically be disrupted in patients with Long Covid, lending some clues which approaches and at-home therapies might be beneficial in resolving symptoms of the disease.
Research comparing gut microbiomes via stool samples between patients who contracted Covid versus those who didn’t showed some interesting results:
- The gut microbiome of Covid-19 patients (68) who developed Long Covid (60) was significantly different from a control group of patients that did not contract Covid-19.
- Surprisingly, the gut microbiome of those with a Covid-19 infection but no lingering Long Covid symptoms did not show any significant difference from the control group, meaning that those who recovered fully and those who never had Long Covid both shared a similar makeup of their gut microbiome versus those who suffered from Long Covid significantly differed in their gut microbiome.
- It stood out that the microbiome makeup of those with Long Covid was less abundant with less diverse strands of gut microbiota. The researchers also discovered an overabundance of “bad” bacteria and an scarcity of “good” gut bacteria.
Gut Health and Blood Clots
Another study by investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine found that:
- Certain bacteria in the gut might lower someone’s risk of contracting Covid-19 as well as developing long-term symptoms such as Long Covid.
- They might also work in preventing the formation of blood clots, often found in severe illnesses and also present for many chronic Long Covid patients.
- Short-chain fatty acids look promising for limiting megakaryocyte proliferation and platelet turnover to prevent blood clots.
💡 How: Megakaryocytes are cells in the human body responsible for making platelets which in turn play a part in blood clotting. Limiting the rapid increase in platelets making cells and platelets therefore might prevent excessive blood clots.
They conclude that SCFAs and fiber-fermenting gut bacteria might dampen viral entry and hypercoagulation.
This study calls out specific strains for supporting SCFA and fiber fermenting gut bacteria:
- Bifidobacterium bifidum H3-R2
- Propionibacterium freudenreichii B1
- Clostridium butyricum C1-6
A few research articles documents the benefit of pro and prebiotics for combating Covid-19 and restoring a balanced gut homeostasis and a few clinical studies are underway, specifically looking at probiotics for Long Covid.
- Lactobacillus plantarum to “reduces circulating levels of cell-free mitochondrial DNA”
- Decrease “endothelial dysfunction by reducing cf-mtDNA, TLR9 activation, and inflammation”
- Clinical trial with probiotics (10 Billion UFC/capsule)
- Assessing anxiety, flu-like symptoms as well as functioning difficulties
- Clinical trial for novel formula of three Bifidobacteria strains (10 billion CFU per sachet), galactooligosaccharides, xylooligosaccharide, and resistant dextrin called SIM01
- Studying the effects on “enrichment of commensal bacteria and suppression of opportunistic pathogens”
- Study suggests “reduced pro-inflammatory immune markers”
- Some probiotics might induce a histamine response from the body. If you're sensitive to histamine or if you struggle with MCAS (mast cell activation syndrome), you might want to opt for histamine-free probiotics.
- Thomas Bunker PhD cautions that probiotics, specifically Lactobacillus, might increase your symptoms for 2-3 days initially.
Here are some great resources if you'd like to read more:
- The gut microbiome: Relationships with disease and opportunities for therapy
- COVID-19 and gut immunomodulation
- Gut microbiota dynamics in a prospective cohort of patients with post-acute COVID-19 syndrome
- Gut microbiota-derived metabolites confer protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection
- Strains producing different short-chain fatty acids alleviate DSS-induced ulcerative colitis by regulating intestinal microecology
- Impact of Lp299v on Vascular Function in Patients With PASC
- WHO COVID-19 - Evaluation of the Efficacy of Probiotics to Reduce the Occurrence of Long COVID (PROVID-LD)
- A Randomised-controlled Trial of an Oral Microbiome Immunity Formula in Recovered COVID-19 Patients
- Gut microbiota-derived synbiotic formula (SIM01) as a novel adjuvant therapy for COVID-19: An open-label pilot study
- Lactobacillus for Long Covid