Cannabis and HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS is the most serious health concern in South Africa. The country has the fourth-highest adult HIV prevalence rate in the world, according to the 2016 United Nations statistics.
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a disease that attacks the body’s immune system (natural defense system) by killing protective white blood cells. Over time, HIV reduces the number of white blood cells in the body which makes it harder for the body to fight off infections. As the defensive system weakens, other harmful infections, called “opportunistic infections,” take advantage of a compromised immune system. Meningitis, pneumonia, encephalitis, tuberculosis, chronic diarrhea, and cancers are some examples of these infections. If not treated, the advancement of HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, the most severe phase of HIV infection.
A major breakthrough has occurred in the decades-long fight against HIV/AIDS and it has to do with (you guessed it) cannabis. Since the beginning, medical cannabis has been used as a treatment for patients with HIV and we’re just beginning to discover the tip of the iceberg. Cannabinoid-based therapies could help lead the way.
Robert L Cook, professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, recently announced he is leading a 400 person study to scrutinize marijuana’s effects on people living with HIV. The five year, $3.2 million study is believed to be the largest of its kind, and will look not only at marijuana’s impact on the brains of HIV patients, but also whether the drug is able to help suppress the virus. Cook will also account for the specific amount of marijuana consumed or inhaled by participants, as well as the amount of THC and cannabinoids in those doses – something he said other researchers haven’t been able to do.
The research showed that those who used marijuana had a lower amount of the virus in their blood compared to those who didn’t use marijuana. That’s a good thing if there is a lower amount of the virus. But I haven’t seen any clinical trials looking at the direct effects of THC on the virus. We also don’t have a lot research comparing THC alone versus THC and CBD on people with HIV.
A 2005 survey conducted on 523 HIV-positive patients found that 143 (27%) of the respondents used cannabis to manage their symptoms; of those, an overwhelming 97% reported that they experienced improvements in appetite.
In 2007, a double-blind study was conducted into the effects of smoked cannabis and dronabinol (a synthetic form of THC). This study found that both cannabis and dronabinol increased caloric intake compared to placebo, in a dose-dependent manner. The effect was characterized by increased frequency of eating occasions.
As for using the cannabis plant for its therapeutic effects, 2014 research showed that activation of cannabinoid receptors actually inhibits inflammation in the brain among people with HIV because it prevents the virus from attaching to cells.
Additional studies have shown that cannabis can help prevent damage from HIV-related neuropathy (nerve damage).
Currently, Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is used to treat HIV infection by preventing its multiplication and spread throughout the body. HIV dampens the immune system, making it much simpler for the body to develop leukemia, cancer, pneumonia, liver failure and other life-threatening conditions.
While ART has been effective for patients, HIV treatment requires taking a regimen of pills and costs are steep, particularly for those in poor countries like South Africa.
In other words, HIV users who use cannabis are likely to have prevented their condition from worsening. This is due to the fact that pDC’s are immune cells that circulate in the blood.
Once HIV is acquired, these cells do not respond as well to fighting foreign pathogens. THC suppresses the functionality of the compromised immune system brought on by HIV, which can halt its progression into AIDS.
This is great news for the medical cannabis community as well as HIV patients; many of whom are already using cannabis to alleviate nausea, pain, the loss of appetite and other side effects. Patients may not only reap the therapeutic benefits of cannabis but it can also prolong or save their lives.
The top benefits of using Cannabis/Cannabis Oil for HIV/AIDS.
- Reduces peripheral neuropathy
- Helps stimulate appetite and prevent weight loss
- Provides Chronic pain relief
- Helps combat insomnia
The estimated overall HIV prevalence rate is approximately 12,6% among the South African population. The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at approximately 7,06 million in 2017. For adults aged 15–49 years, an estimated 18,0% of the population is HIV positive.
Do you or someone you know use Cannabis or Cannabis oil in South Africa to help treat their HIV/AIDS?
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