Yale Researchers Identify Potential Treatment for ‘Brain Fog’ Caused by Long COVID
On December 16, 2022, Isabella Backman, et al, published “Yale Researchers Discover Possible ‘Brain Fog’ Treatment for Long COVID” on the “Research & Innovation” page of the Yale Medicine website. The article recounts the experience of Arman Fesharaki-Zadeh, MD, Ph.D., a Yale Medicine neuropsychiatrist, as he began to encounter patients who were experiencing significant, persistent cognitive problems after COVID-19 infections colloquially referred to as “brain fog.”
The authors state that Dr. Fesharaki-Zadeh recognized similarities in the brain fog caused by COVID-19 infections and those resulting from post-concussive syndrome (PCS) caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI). As more of his patients began to experience these issues, Dr. Fesharaki-Zadeh wondered if the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is being tested for TBI, could also improve the cognitive dysfunction caused by long COVID. After administering NAC, his patients showed some improvement in energy and memory. Dr. Fesharaki-Zadeh then decided to add a second treatment, guanfacine, known to support prefrontal cortical circuits.
Guanfacine, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ADHD, a neurodevelopmental disorder of the prefrontal cortex, is also undergoing off-label testing for other types of brain disorders including TBI. Of the 12 patients Dr. Fesharaki-Zadeh treated with a combination of guanfacine and NAC, eight reported significant improvements in memory, multitasking abilities, and organizational skills. Further research is planned and in the interim, the authors suggested that people with symptoms of long COVID ask their physicians for a guanfacine prescription and purchase NAC over the counter.
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