Treating HIV/AIDS with Cannabis: Can Marijuana Help?

Treating HIV/AIDS with Cannabis: Can Marijuana Help?

Treating HIV/AIDS with Cannabis: Can Marijuana Help?

Although there has already been a decline in the number of patients contracting HIV/AIDS, it still remains as one of the most common types of sexually transmitted diseases worldwide. There’s no drug that can fully eradicate the virus from the human body. These drugs can only control the symptoms and reduce the viral load. Today, researchers are looking at cannabis as a form of adjuvant treatment for this disease. But will treating HIV/AIDS with cannabis be effective?

What does the Human Immunodeficiency Virus do to your body?

HIV primarily attacks the immune system. It weakens and destroys this important system and makes you susceptible to all types of infections, even milder ones. As the disease progresses, it begins to affect other body organs as well.

Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS has no known cure. Medications only work to control symptoms, delay disease progression, and reduce viral load. Once you’re infected, you will always have the virus in you.

It is of note, that it’s not the virus itself that kills people. What kills most people with HIV/AIDS are the opportunistic infections caused by a severely weakened immune system.

Are there people treating HIV/AIDS with cannabis?

Marijuana to treat aids

The legalization of medical cannabis saw an increase in patients treating HIV/AIDS with cannabis. Experts believe that one in three patients find cannabis to be very beneficial.

Although we lack clinical studies on HIV/AIDS and cannabis, we do have countless studies supporting the cannabinoids‘ potency in reducing some of the disease’s symptoms.

How does treating HIV/AIDS with cannabis help?

Let’s discuss some of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS and see how cannabis controls them.

Appetite loss.

Using cannabis produces the munchies. This effect is caused by THC when it activates the CB1 receptors in the brain and gastrointestinal system.

The appetite-stimulant property improves appetite loss and increases the body weight of patients with HIV/AIDS.

Nausea and vomiting

weed, medical marijuana, marijuana
(image via 123RF.com)

Patients with HIV/AIDS often suffer from severe nausea and vomiting. These contribute to weight loss and malnutrition. Malnutrition then worsens an already compromised immune system.

Now, cannabis has powerful antiemetic properties. THC produces its anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects when it binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and gastrointestinal system. CBD produces its antiemetic effects when it activates other receptors like the serotonin receptor.

Both THC and CBD also improve the levels of our endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids stimulate the endocannabinoid system to modulate nausea and vomiting.

With cannabinoids and endocannabinoids working together, wasting syndrome is controlled.

Pain and chronic inflammation

Opportunistic infections and nerve damage contribute to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation, in turn, worsens pain in HIV/AIDS patients.

Cannabis produces powerful analgesic effects as it activates the endocannabinoid system. CBD’s effect on other receptors responsible for pain perception also makes cannabis a potent analgesic.

Depression

HIV/AIDS-positive patients battle with depression. Now, THC and CBD produce anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects that can improve the patient’s mental health issues.

Does treating HIV/AIDS with cannabis have an effect on the virus itself?

We lack research on the effects of cannabis on the virus itself. However, one interesting study found that cannabis may have an effect on the viral load or the amount of virus in the body.

Researchers found that HIV/AIDS-positive cannabis users have lower viral load compared to non-cannabis users.

Treating HIV/AIDS with cannabis seem promising. Not only can it control symptoms, but it can also improve the quality of life.

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