Unlocking the Serotonin Secret: A Breakthrough in Long COVID Research

Unlocking the Serotonin Secret: A Breakthrough in Long COVID Research

Long COVID is a complex and debilitating condition affecting about 7% of Americans, has left researchers searching for answers. Recent findings from the University of Pennsylvania suggest that the key to understanding and potentially treating long COVID might lie in the levels of serotonin in the body. This groundbreaking study offers new insights into the condition and opens the door to novel approaches for care and treatment.

What is serotonin?

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter with vital functions in the brain, mood, and memory regulation and has been linked to long COVID. Researchers have discovered that long COVID patients exhibit lower serotonin levels compared to those who fully recovered from acute COVID-19. The study points to low serotonin levels as a potential contributing factor to the wide array of symptoms associated with long COVID, including fatigue, joint pain, and digestive issues.

The study, published in the journal Cell, involved 86 patients with thyroid cancer and 86 control subjects. It revealed that low serotonin levels were associated with long COVID. These low levels were attributed to persistent inflammation caused by circulating SARS-CoV-2 and difficulties in the body’s ability to absorb tryptophan, an amino acid essential for serotonin production. Overactive blood platelets, which play a role in serotonin absorption, were also identified as a factor.

While the study doesn’t make treatment recommendations, it does present several promising leads. The potential link between serotonin and long COVID may open doors to new treatment options. The study’s author, Christoph A. Thaiss, suggests that “this study gives us a few possible targets that could be used in future clinical studies.”

One potential avenue involves antiviral medications like nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid), which can help reduce viral load and mitigate the effects of long COVID. Research indicates that reducing viral load might be essential in addressing serotonin-related issues.

Intriguingly, the study also found that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine, commonly used as an antidepressant, along with a glycine-tryptophan supplement, improved cognitive function in rodent models of SARS-CoV-2 infection.


In conclusion, the groundbreaking study from the University of Pennsylvania has unveiled a potential link between serotonin levels and long COVID, shedding light on new avenues for understanding and treating this challenging condition. Our naturopathic doctors at Port Moody Health can help you navigate this complexity, offering tailored solutions to safely increase serotonin levels and reduce viral load through supplementation, diet adjustments, and personalized herbal recommendations.

If you or a loved one is grappling with the lingering effects of long COVID, our team at PMH is ready to provide guidance and support. Reach out to us to discover more about how our integrative and personalized approach to healthcare can contribute to your journey of recovery.

Call us today at 604-949-0077 to book a consultation

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