HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS is a serious syndrome that can have a fatal outcome. HIV breaks down the immune system step by step. You speak of AIDS when the immune system is so weakened by HIV that all kinds of viruses and bacteria can no longer be fought by the immune system .
Since the 1990s, there is medication available based on cannabis that is helpful in HIV/AIDS. This agent is called Dronabinol and only contains THC. It is used for stimulation of appetite, prevention of nausea and against weight loss and neuropathic pain. In 2014 a study was published that showed that cannabis may not only be beneficial against the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, but that it might also be used for fighting the cause of the disease. This study only examined the effect of THC. Other cannabinoids such as CBD, have not been studied.
In this study a group of HIV-infected monkeys were administered THC over a period of 17 months. The results were, among other things, that less damage arose in the immune tissue in the intestines, an important place where the HIV virus does its work . HIV spreads by infecting immune cells, which it eventually kills. In the animals which had been given THC however, larger amounts of immune cells were found than in animals that had not received THC. The effect of THC on immune cells is for the most part due to the effect it has on the so-called CB2-receptor, one of the two cannabinoid receptors on which THC works. The other cannabinoid receptor (CB1), is responsible for the high that is experienced from using THC.
Curing HIV is not yet possible, but the results of this study are interesting enough to do more research on the effects of THC (and maybe other cannabinoids) on HIV.
Advice for using cannabinoids against HIV/AIDS
Cannabis has been used against certain symptoms of HIV/AIDS since the 1990s. Medication containing THC is available (Dronabinol), but medical marijuana is also often used for this purpose. CBD and some other cannabinoids, however, are also known for their activity against pain, which partly explains why there are many advocates of so-called whole plant extracts. An additional advantage is that CBD counteracts some of the undesirable effects of THC.
Other than for palliative use, there is insufficient scientific justification at this time to use cannabinoids against HIV/AIDS.
When you are considering to use cannabinoids such as THC and CBD against HIV/AIDS always check with your doctor or specialist first. Click here to read more about safe use of cannabinoids.
- Molina, P.E., Amedee, A.M., LeCapitaine, N.J., Zabaleta, J., Mohan, M. (2014). Modulation of gut-specific mechanisms by chronic Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol administration in male rhesus macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus: a systems biology analysis. AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, 30(6): 567-578.