Addenbrooke’s and Bedford hospitals oncology consultant, Professor Robert Thomas, says the study started after researchers worldwide began reporting that Covid patients were suffering a disruption in the ratio of friendly to unfriendly bacteria in the gut, called dysbiosis. This was especially true of those with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as nausea, indigestion and diarrhoea.
Then, London’s Kings College developed an app-based study, involving over 400,000 people, which showed those who took regular probiotic supplements had a lower risk of catching Covid. Until now, it was not known whether taking probiotics after catching Covid could help. This research suggests they do – or more precisely a specific blend of lactobacillus probiotic and a chicory-rich inulin. (Inulin is a prebiotic which helps feed the lactobacillus in the capsule and other friendly bacteria in the gut).
The study involved 126 people, a third of whom had an acute Covid infection with the majority reporting a wide variety of longer term symptoms lasting over 100 days. Results, analysed by university statisticians showed that cough, fatigue, gut and well-being scores improved. Many said gut symptoms suffered for years were resolved.
Prof Thomas said: “Such a rapid improvement in the majority who had been experiencing symptoms for over eight months was clinically relevant and welcomed, especially among those more likely to have pre-existing gut dysbiosis. The authors believe that the importance of interventions to improve gut health should emphasised to people with Covid”.
“Going forwards, our research group is analysing the second phase of this study, which evaluated whether a whole phytochemical rich nutritional capsule, in additional to the probiotics, could further enhance Covid recovery.