Creatine: A Promising Therapeutic Approach for Long COVID Symptoms
Article

Creatine: A Promising Therapeutic Approach for Long COVID Symptoms

Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2024
by
Alexander Koch

Health & Wellness

Understanding Creatine's Potential in Long COVID Management

Long COVID-19 is a multisystemic phenomenon, presenting in a variety of ways and affecting various organs, including the heart (chest pain, palpitations), brain (cognitive impairment, sleep disorders, fatigue), lungs (cough, shortness of breath), and sexual organs (erectile dysfunction, irregular menstruation). Traversing the maze of symptoms and their repercussions, individuals grappling with Long COVID face a unique set of challenges. Traditional approaches to symptom relief often fall short, prompting a search for alternative strategies that offer comprehensive solutions. In this exploration, we aim to shed light on the transformative role creatine may play in managing Long COVID. 

Long COVID's Connection to Digestive Dysfunction

Long COVID is also associated with gut dysfunction, and gut symptoms have been reported in as many as 29% of individuals experiencing prolonged effects from COVID-19. These gut-centered symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, abdominal pain, heartburn, dysphagia, altered bowel motility, and irritable bowel syndrome. In a previously shared article, discover additional information on the connection between long COVID and gut dysfunction

The Theory: Creatine Supplementation to Combat Long COVID?

Creatine is a protein derivative that our bodies naturally produce and that we also obtain in our diets. It plays an important role in energy metabolism in muscles and nervous tissue. Creatine is also a popular dietary supplement that can be ingested to maximize the stores of creatine in our bodies. Explore my earlier discussion on the potential benefits of creatine supplementation for brain health at this link

Post-viral fatigue syndromes, such as long COVID-19, have been documented to occur after various viruses, including Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, coxsackieviruses, and coronaviruses. Post-viral fatigue syndromes have been associated with impaired cellular creatine metabolism and lower creatine stores in the brain. In theory, supplementing dietary creatine could potentially enhance the well-being of individuals experiencing post-viral fatigue syndromes

The Evidence: Evaluating Promising Outcomes from Creatine Studies

To date, one study has specifically investigated the potential of creatine supplementation to improve health in long COVID patients. Happily, the results are quite promising. Six months of supplementing creatine at a dose of 4g/day (about one teaspoon) resulted in higher levels of creatine in brain tissue and (most importantly) lower self-reported fatigue levels versus a placebo. It should be cautioned that this is a single, small (12 subjects per group) study, but the results are incredibly promising and warrant further investigation.

Creatine supplementation is affordable and low-risk, so if it does indeed lessen the severity of long COVID symptoms, it will offer a valuable addition for individuals managing this condition.

 

  1. Blackett, J. W., Wainberg, M., Elkind, M. S. V., & Freedberg, D. E. (2022). Potential Long Coronavirus Disease 2019 Gastrointestinal Symptoms 6 Months After Coronavirus Infection Are Associated With Mental Health Symptoms. Gastroenterology, 162(2), 648–650.e2. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2021.10.040 
  2. Marshall, R. P., Droste, J. N., Giessing, J., & Kreider, R. B. (2022). Role of Creatine Supplementation in Conditions Involving Mitochondrial Dysfunction: A Narrative Review. Nutrients, 14(3), 529. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030529 
  3. Meringer, H., & Mehandru, S. (2022). Gastrointestinal post-acute COVID-19 syndrome. Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 19(6), 345–346. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-022-00611-z 
  4. Ostojic S. M. (2021). Diagnostic and Pharmacological Potency of Creatine in Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome. Nutrients, 13(2), 503. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020503 
  5. Slankamenac, J., Ranisavljev, M., Todorovic, N., Ostojic, J., Stajer, V., & Ostojic, S. M. (2023). Effects of six-month creatine supplementation on patient- and clinician-reported outcomes, and tissue creatine levels in patients with post-COVID-19 fatigue syndrome. Food science & nutrition, 11(11), 6899–6906. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.3597 



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