Oncologist, Professor Robert Thomas and a team of scientists at Addenbrooke’s Hospital developed a capsule that was used in a study to assess the effect on symptoms.
The study found that the blend appears to influence the severity and persistence of symptoms post COVID-19 infection, a finding which supports other recently published studies that have also reported beneficial roles for similar lactobacillus probiotics.
The authors believe this study is one of the first to report an additional benefit for patients with symptomatic post-COVID-19 infection for a safe, low-cost phytochemical rich nutritional intervention.
They said that after catching COVID-19, most people’s gut microflora dysbiosis is affected which can contribute to gastro-intestinal (GI) symptoms and others. Natural phytochemicals have anti-viral properties and favourable effects on inflammatory and oxidative pathways both important factors for tissue damage post-viral pneumonia.
This study involved 147 participants with symptomatic COVID-19, randomised to receive a placebo or a phytochemical-rich concentrated food capsule in addition to a pre/probiotic lactobacillus capsule. Participants taking the food capsule had an almost two-fold reduction in mean fatigue scores compared to the placebo, a three-fold reduction in cough score and more than a double improvement in overall well-being scores.
Two participants reported mild, increased bloating which they felt was attributable to the capsules, although GI symptoms improved in 25 of 31 participants (82%) who reported them at baseline. Sedentary, older, previously hospitalised men with GI symptoms had a statistically significantly improvement among those given the probiotic.
The researchers said: “Although some participants with early disease would have improved spontaneously, such a rapid improvement observed in the majority of participants, who had been suffering for an average of 108 days, was clinically relevant and welcomed, especially among those more likely to have pre-existing gut dysbiosis. We are now evaluating whether this blend could also enhance antibody titres post-COVID-19 vaccination.”
Professor Robert Thomas, who works at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has found the capsule containing phytochemicals can take this significantly further.
Found in plant-based foods with abundant colour, taste and aroma and Professor Thomas analysed laboratory data on phytochemicals to determine which blend may work in synergy against Covid.
The new capsules contain purified citrus bioflavonoids, a good sources of vitamin C, resveratrol, a plant compound that acts like an antioxidant, pomegranate, chamomile and turmeric.
Professor Thomas’ team was responsible for recruiting the 147 study volunteers from the Cambridge and Bedford areas with symptomatic Covid-19 from May to November 2021 and of those volunteers, 25% had acute Covid while 75% had persistent long Covid with troublesome symptoms lasting on average 108 days.
Each was given a dried lactobacillus probiotic capsule and then half were also given the phytochemical-rich concentrated food capsule, and half were given a placebo.
The results, analysed by University of Bedfordshire statisticians, revealed that symptoms improved significantly in the entire group. On top of this, participants who took the phytochemical rich food capsule had an even better improvement compared to those who took the placebo.
The figures show a two-fold further reduction in mean fatigue scores, a three-fold reduction in cough score and a two-fold improvement in overall wellbeing scores.
Professor 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.”
A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Evaluating Concentrated Phytochemical-Rich Nutritional Capsule in Addition to a Probiotic Capsule on Clinical Outcomes among Individuals with COVID-19—The UK Phyto-V Study
Authors: Robert Thomas et al