Adaptogens vs Long Covid

This is a sample of an article written by Jonathan Jarry, over at McGill.
[my own additions are in square bracket]
For the full article please go here:

Jonathan's full articleAdaptogen Study

…[T]he adaptogen trial done on people dealing with long COVID, who were given either a placebo or a liquid containing golden root, schisandra, and Siberian ginseng. This liquid, called ADAPT-232/Chisan®, is made by the Swedish Herbal Institute, which funded the trial, and the corresponding author on the paper is the head of research and development for the institute. The “follow the money” crowd would do well to keep this in mind.
Despite the inherent bias and the spin given to the results (“this pilot study demonstrates that Chisan®/ADAPT-232 can increase physical performance in Long COVID”), the findings are overall disappointing, with the real meat being buried in the supplemental section. Long COVID symptoms significantly decreased over the three-week period the participants were followed for. Fatigue, headaches, difficulty breathing, sweatiness, loss of smell and taste, hair loss, pain, attention deficit, memory issues, and mood disorders—all went down… but they decreased equally for those on the adaptogen mixture and for those on the placebo.
[therefore the adaptogen mixture was equvalent to nothing]

It’s only when the authors start to slice and dice the data that they extract some weak sauce that will undoubtedly be spotlit by marketers: the adaptogen mixture was better than placebo when it came to coughing and daily walk time, and when looking at blood levels of creatinine and interleukin-6. Also, it was better than placebo at reducing fatigue and pain… for half of the participants only… and specifically on days 9 and 11 of the trial. It’s hard to slice more thinly than this. None of it is scientifically filling. [More p-hacking]

Take-home message:
- Adaptogens are supposed to be substances, often plants (like ginseng and golden root), that help the body adapt to stress with no side effect.
- Their long-term safety has not been demonstrated, and consumers should keep in mind that the regulation of this market is poor and some adaptogenic herbs are known to have potentially serious side effects.
- Evidence for their effectiveness usually comes from animal studies and a few published studies in humans, which tend to be small and lacking in rigour”.

Jonathan's full article