Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the human immune system’s “T cells”, reducing their number over time. This leaves the body more susceptible to diseases and infections and increasing the severity of their effects. If left untreated, HIV may become acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This transition is marked when T cells fall to 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3) or lower, leaving the immune system critically compromised. At this stage, diseases and infections easily treated and cured by standard procedures and medicines can be deadly.
How to help heal patients with HIV/AIDS with cannabis
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services claims that there are over 1.2 million people living with HIV infection in the U.S. They also estimate that 1 in 8 are unaware they carry the virus. Long progression times mean many won’t report symptoms for a decade or longer. Many organizations, like the CDC, provide free HIV tests.
Since no cure for HIV exists, treatment is geared towards HIV management in the interest of preventing progressing to AIDS. AIDS sufferers must maintain a treatment regimen to avoid death.
As with many pharmaceutical options for diseases of this magnitude, antiretroviral therapy, while effective and prolonging life and managing HIV, causes damaging side effects. Common are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heart disease, weakened bones, muscle tissue breakdown and neuropathic pain. Patients experience weight loss from decreased appetite. All of these contribute to the overall weakening of the immune system.
Side effects, expense, complexity, and ignorance have driven the interest for alternative methods of treating HIV and AIDS. Recent studies show that medical marijuana has a palliative effect on adverse symptoms. People with HIV who use medical marijuana report major positive effects on appetite and relief of chronic muscle pain, nausea, anxiety, depression and skin tingling (Woodridge, et al., 2005).
Studies show positive results from medical cannabis treatments
Studies show that regular cannabis consumption reduces chronic neuropathic pain caused by HIV (Ellis, et al., 2008) (Abrams, et al., 2007), and that consumption improves appetite and normal functioning, reducing weight and muscle loss (Haney, Rabkin, Gunderson & Foltin, 2005).
Data also supports that medical marijuana consumption is safe for HIV and AIDS sufferers. Medical marijuana does not negatively affect the immune system (Marcellin, et al., 2016). Another study has shown that cannabinoid compounds effectively stopped the HIV virus from spreading during late stage infection (Costantino, et al., 2012).
States approve Cannabis treatments for HIV/AIDS
Many states have approved the us of medical marijuana to treat HIV/AIDS: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. AgriMed is devoted to finding new ways for medical marijuana to make life better for those living with HIV/AIDS.