Adults experiencing prolonged COVID may be interested in a new clinical trial from the University of Buffalo testing low doses of lithium as a potential treatment.
This randomized clinical trial is recruiting 50 adults between the ages of 18 and 80 with long-standing COVID. For trial details, call 716-829-5454.
A placebo-controlled trial is investigating the effects of low-dose lithium therapy on long-term symptoms of COVID. This is a double-blind trial, and neither patients nor doctors know whether patients received lithium or an inert placebo. After the 21-day double-blind trial phase, every patient will have the opportunity to receive lithium for an additional 14 days without the opportunity for placebo.
James J. Guttuso Jr., Professor of Neurology at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Principal Investigator, UBMD Neurology.
This clinical trial is funded as a pilot project by UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Anyone with long COVID symptoms is invited to join UB’s Long Her COVID Registry.
Long-term COVID is thought to result from chronic inflammation, and because lithium is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, Guttuso suggested that patients should be treated with low doses of lithium for persistent long-term COVID symptoms. I decided to recommend that you try
“I was shocked at how much better the patient was in just a few days,” says Guttuso. Since then, he has found that Spanish researchers have found that patients who were hospitalized with acute COVID-19 and who were already taking lithium for bipolar disorder had better outcomes than those not taking lithium. I discovered that I had published the results of a study that revealed that I had
These findings, as well as reports from his own patients, were interesting. And when other doctors heard of Guttuso’s success, they started referring him to patients with long-term COVID. I was treated with a dose of lithium. Nine had improvement with lithium. No one experienced side effects.
“I kept hearing the same story: within a few days, the results were satisfactory,” says Guttuso. Some people stop taking lithium and their symptoms do not return, while others need to continue taking it.
Jennifer Stewart of East Amherst was one of them. She had a mild case of her COVID-19 infection in January 2022, but she had few symptoms apart from brain fog and extreme fatigue, and she hadn’t healed in months. .
“I’m a really energetic person and I don’t take naps. I used to nap here during the day,” she recalls. “I even slept through a Bills game I was trying to watch on TV. That was how bad it was.”
Finally in July she went to see Guttuso. After thorough testing, he noted results he had seen in long-term COVID patients taking lithium. She was surprised to hear that lithium, which she knew was prescribed for mental illness, might help.
“Dr. Guttuso explained to me that this is a very low dose and is the same as taking minerals such as calcium and magnesium,” says Stewart. I asked how long it usually takes to come out.
“Within about two days, I realized, ‘Oh my God, I don’t need to nap,'” she says. “I no longer have a strong desire to take a nap.”
A few weeks later she stopped taking lithium. Her symptoms have not returned. Asked what advice Stewart would give to others who have had COVID-19 for a long time, she doesn’t hesitate.
“Oh my God, why aren’t you on this exam?” she says. “My symptoms are completely gone.”
Guttuso’s interest in low-dose lithium therapy extends beyond the long-term COVID. He is currently conducting clinical trials using this treatment for Parkinson’s disease patients.
Based on the promising results he observed and previously published research studies, Guttuso was inspired to write a book on lithium. The book, called “The Promise of Lithium,” focuses on research studies that show that low-dose lithium may be a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, not just Parkinson’s disease. The planned publication date for this book is his January 31st.