Citrus Phytochemicals & Long COVID Recovery Study

A new study by researchers at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) NHS Foundation Trust has found that a blend of natural ingredients – including citrus phytochemicals – may be beneficial in treating patients dealing with long COVID.

The study looked at results over a year-long period, using volunteer patients, and involved two stages.

Results of an initial study were published in the open access journal Infectious Diseases Diagnosis and Treatment in 2021. In that test, researchers treated patients via their gut.

COVID & the Gut

Among its other effects, COVID-109 disrupts the balance of microflora (bacteria) in the gut. It can affect the metabolic system, and many other processes in the body. As the data has emerged, it’s becoming apparent that disruption to the gut microflora is linked to long COVID, as well as fatalities from COVID. There is a link between what is called bowel dysbiosis and lung hyperinflammation.

  • The first phase of the study used a blend of five different gut-friendly bacteria (lactobacillus probiotics)’
  • To that cocktail they added an ingredient called inulin, a starchy substance derived from chicory.

To augment the effects of the first study, they added other natural, plant-derived ingredients in the second phase. The useful phytochemical blend included:

  • Hesperetin, (a flavanone), from citrus fruits;
  • Aloe emodin found in Aloe Vera;
  • Quertin, a flavonoid found in citrus fruits along with onions, apples, and pomegranate;
  • Apigenin a polyphenol found in parsley, chamomile, tea and fruit;
  • Curcumin curcuminoids found in turmeric;
  • Ellagic acid found in pomegranate.

Those results were published in the April 2022 issue of the academic journal COVID.

  • There were 147 participants, all of whom had continued symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Their symptoms had persisted at least 108 days;
  • Half received a placebo;
  • The non-placebo group received two capsules, one with the lactobacillus, and another rich with phytochemicals.

The results are promising, and considered significant enough to call for further study on how the combination of elements can be used in conjunction with vaccines. A third phase of the study will look at adding vitamin D3 to the mix.

  • Those who received the capsules saw a reduction in fatigue up to twice as much;
  • Coughing was reduced by three times as much as in the control group;
  • 25 of 31 participants (82%) who had reported stomach and gastrointestinal symptoms before the study reported improvements (with two participants who reported increased bloating);
  • They also reported general wellbeing as twice as improved as the placebo group.

The researchers posited that phytochemicals could be working in various ways to help patients with long COVID.

  • Anti-inflammatory properties;
  • Oxygenation, while reducing oxidative stress;
  • Anti-viral properties – of citrus polyphenols in particular.

More and more frequently, the components that give citrus fruits their luscious flavors and aromas – polyphenols – are recognized for their significant properties for human health.

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