How medical marijuana helps HIV/AIDS patients
Cannabis has long been recognized as an effective treatment for HIV/AIDS symptoms and medication side effects. According to a 2004 study published by the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome:
“A substantial percentage of cannabis users viewed it as beneficial for relief of symptoms commonly associated with HIV/AIDS. Relief from anxiety and depression were among the most frequently reported reasons for smoking cannabis, followed by appetite stimulation and relief of nausea.”
As researchers note:
“This finding is particularly relevant to issues of antiretroviral medication adherence. Nausea and anorexia are frequently cited as reasons for delayed or missed doses and discontinuation of ART.”
In fact, Dronabinol (Marinol), a synthetic form of marijuana cannabinoid THC, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of HIV-associated loss of appetite.
However, marijuana may do more than just offer symptom relief. In 2012, researchers announced:
“Data from our controlled studies in non-human primates show chronic Delta-9 THC administration prior to and during simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection ameliorates disease progression, and attenuates viral load and tissue inflammation, significantly reducing morbidity and mortality.”
Researchers are exploring the possibility that marijuana lowers viral replication by mediating neuroinflammation. Additional studies suggest cannabinoid receptor agonists may even work directly to suppress HIV-replication.