People suffering from long Covid are finding medical cannabis can ease their debilitating symptoms, the People can reveal. And services allowed to prescribe the drug say demand is on the rise.
Medical cannabis was made legal in the UK three years ago. Under MHRA guidelines, it can only be prescribed by a specialist when other licensed treatments for a condition are proven not to have worked or are unsuitable.
As long Covid is a new disease, sufferers are unlikely to meet this criteria yet. But pain consultant Dr Jean Gerard Sinovich, medical director at Cannabis Access Service, said enquiries for long Covid treatment were on the rise.
The online prescriber has heard from 65 long Covid sufferers in four months.
Sharron Brothwell is among those with long Covid who claim medical cannabis eased symptoms.
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The mum-of-three, of Blackpool, Lancs, was prescribed the drug to treat chronic fibromyalgia. After contracting Covid in March 2020 she became reliant on inhalers – but says she no longer needs them thanks to her £380-a-month cannabis prescription from Sapphire Medical Clinics.
Sharron said: “I constantly felt like I had jet lag. That has all changed now. The other day I was able to take my dog out on my own to the park for a ten-minute walk there and back which I never could have done a few months ago. It is amazing.”
Another patient, a grandfather aged 50 from Flintshire, Wales, was prescribed the drug 15 months ago by Cannabis Access Service for arthritis.
He upped his dose after a bout of Covid in September left him with long-term breathlessness and fatigue.
He said: “I was wrecked, absolutely drained. But I found that using my vaporiser more frequently helped open my airways and reduced muscle pain.”
More than two million people in the UK are thought to be battling long Covid, in which symptoms persist at least four weeks after the initial virus.
Dr Sinovich said: “I’ve seen patients who have long Covid and seen improvements in sleep and fatigue levels.
“There’s scope to use this as an extra armour if we want to treat long Covid. It is exciting.”
Dr Simon Erridge, Sapphire’s head of research and access, said there was “no evidence that can directly suggest medical cannabis is better for long Covid symptoms.” But he added: “Lots with long covid have muscular aches and pains, abdominal pain, neuropathic pain. We’ve seen positive effects with medical cannabis in these conditions.”
He expects to see further research into long Covid and the role medical cannabis can play.