In an intriguing case report that is hitting the headlines, researchers say the woman experienced significant relief from severe long COVID after using psilocybin (the trippy compound in magic mushrooms) and MDMA. According to Clinical Case Reports the 41-year old patient was struggling with depression, insomnia, headaches, severe anxiety, joint pain, cognitive issues, and a greatly reduced libido. She had contracted COVID-19 in early 2022, and these symptoms persisted despite being fully vaccinated. 

Taking Matters into Her Own Hands

Conventional treatments like medication, different types of therapy, and lifestyle changes offered little to no lasting improvement. So, taking matters into her own hands, the woman started to experiment with small doses of magic mushrooms and MDMA (under the guidance of a therapist). Very soon, after her first few doses, she reported up to an 80% improvement in her symptoms of “brain fog”, fatigue, and pain. 

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She also reported how her chronic headaches became shorter and less frequent. She was soon able to return to work and continue her PhD studies. Fascinatingly, when her symptoms temporarily returned, another round of psilocybin mushroom therapy relieved her of them again. 

Of course, more research is still needed to confirm if these results are replicable. However this exciting case offers a glimmer of hope that there could be an effective treatment for long COVID, a condition poorly understood, and currently with no real treatment. 

Doctors Could Find No Explanation For Her Symptoms

In the study, the researchers describe how the patient had been perfectly “healthy” before she caught COVID in February of 2022. Despite having had 3 vaccinations she experienced the classic COVID symptoms of fever, cough, and a loss of taste and smell. While the initial infection cleared up within a month, the woman still suffered from an array of distressing long-term symptoms, which doctors identified as long COVID. 

After the fever, cough, loss of smell, and sore throat of the original illness subsided she began to suffer from “severe” anxiety, depression, and cognitive issues such as brain fog. She also began to get headaches, pain in her knees, hips, shoulders and jaw, as well as sleep issues, crippling fatigue, and a “sharp decrease in libido” (sex drive). 

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Despite blood tests and X-rays, doctors could find no abnormalities that could explain the symptoms that plagued her. 

The patient explored numerous remedies such as slowly increasing physical activity, pain medications, intermittent fasting, massage, meditation, and other alternative therapies. While some provided mild relief, this was just temporary. Nothing seemed able to break the cycle of long COVID symptoms.  

A Careful Regimen of Psilocybin and MDMA

At this point, facing (appropriately) long wait times at the long COVID specialist clinic, she decided to try an unorthodox approach. This was her first foray into psychedelics. In May 2022, under the guidance of a therapist, she began a careful and precisely dosed routine of magic mushrooms and MDMA. 

On the 5th of May, 2022, she took 1g of whole dried Golden Teacher mushrooms (a strain of Psilocybe cubensis.)

The patient reported that the dose reduced the intensity of her symptoms by 20%, but that she experienced chills and shivering as the effects wore off. 

A month or so later, she tried 125mg of MDMA, followed by 2 separate doses of psilocybin infused in a tea. 

Within days after her first doses, the patient’s condition took a remarkable turn. She noted a significant improvement across most of her persistent symptoms. Her 5-times-per-week headaches decreased in frequency to just one. On top of this their duration and intensity were also greatly reduced. 

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Psilocybin Provided “Complete Relief”

During the process, the woman caught the flu, and her symptoms worsened again. However, another round of psilocybin mushrooms provided “complete relief”. This time “The patient reported a slower build-up without shivering and reported feeling very detached from long Covid symptoms,” the researchers wrote. 

They added;

“The patient’s experience while under the influence of MDMA and psilocybin was reported as feelings of being in a childlike state, having an intense connection to nature, and of being in an alternate reality.

“The patient was able to return to work and her cognitive function improved, allowing her to resume her PhD studies.

“The patient’s insomnia also improved, and she was able to stop taking antihistamines.”

A Light at the End of the Tunnel for Long COVID Sufferers

This case will become light at the end of the tunnel for the estimated 65 million people who suffer from long COVID globally. The study authors admit that the specific biological mechanisms behind how these psychedelics alleviate long COVID symptoms are still unknown. The researchers have various theories — these include that psychedelics may reduce neuroinflammation, promote neural plasticity, and modulate brain connectivity — all of which could combat the suspected neuropathic effects of long COVID. More study is desperately needed to confirm this. Dr Harman Chopra, from John Hopkins School of Medicine stated;

“To our knowledge, this is the first case report describing the potential efficacy of psychedelics for long Covid symptoms,”

“This reinforces the need for more robust investigation with larger sample sizes into the use of psychedelics for a poorly controlled chronic illness such as long Covid.”

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The remarkable recovery of this woman — who may be patient zero when it comes to long COVID and psychedelics — adds to the growing body of evidence that psychedelics, once stigmatized and demonized, could hold profound therapeutic potential in many areas of medicine.