Medical cannabis has gained a lot of popularity in the past 2 to 3 years. More and more people are now choosing medical cannabis to manage various symptoms associated with their condition. Medical marijuana doctors in Ontario, CA can provide MMJ cards to patients that allow them to buy medical cannabis. Now, medical cannabis can be used for many different conditions. These may include cancer, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, and many more. It is known for helping people suffering from HIV/AIDS, as it can ease the symptoms associated with the disease. Cannabis has analgesic and antiemetic along with many other benefits for HIV/AIDS patients. It also has some indirect effects that also include promoting a healthy appetite. Today, we are going to learn about how medical cannabis can be beneficial for people suffering from HIV/AIDS.
What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV/AIDS is a group of conditions that are caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS has caused more than 32 million deaths since the start of the epidemic. HIV and AIDS are two separate yet interconnected conditions.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus
If HIV is left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human body is capable of fighting certain viruses. But currently, it is not possible for it to completely eliminate HIV from its system. This means it will stay with you for life if you contract the virus. HIV attacks the immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, or T-cells. These cells help the body in fighting infection. The body becomes more susceptible to catching infections or cancers related to infection if the virus is left undiagnosed or untreated. HIV can further destroy a lot of these good cells. Due to this, the body is not able to warn off disease and infections. This is when you have AIDS, the final stage of HIV infection.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, but not every HIV patient advances to AIDS. If your immune system gets so severely damaged that it fails to fight off the opportunistic infections, that is when AIDS occurs. When you have HIV/AIDS, the parasites, bacteria, and viruses become more serious threats to your health. The weakened immunity is not able to fight these opportunistic infections, which can cause devastating illnesses. In medical terms, when the number of CD4 cells drops to less than 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood, that’s when AIDS occurs.
Now, HIV/AIDS can cause many symptoms and health problems. That is why it is important to find treatments that can help in managing these symptoms. While there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS, medical cannabis can be used to deal with several important symptoms of HIV/AIDS. Here is a list that tells how medical cannabis can help people suffering from HIV/AIDS. So, let’s get into it.
Benefit 1. THC Can Help in Stimulating Appetite
Loss of appetite is one of the very common symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS. But it is important for HIV/AIDS patients to avoid losing weight. And if the loss of appetite is becoming an issue, medical cannabis can help in improving appetite.
In 2005, a survey was done on 523 HIV-positive patients. The survey found that 143 (27 percent) of the respondents used cannabis to deal with their symptoms. 97 percent of them reported that they were experiencing improvements in appetite. It is crucial for patients to maintain a good caloric intake in order to fight the illness.
A double-blind study was conducted in 2007 to examine the effects of smoking cannabis and dronabinol. Dronabinol is a synthetic form of THC. The study showed that in a dose-dependent manner, both cannabis and dronabinol was able to increase the caloric intake compared to placebo. Cannabis and dronabinol have been shown to help patients increase their body weight.
Benefit 2. Medical Cannabis Can Help in Dealing With Nausea
Another common symptom associated with HIV infection is nausea. As the disease progresses, the reason behind nausea can become more complex. Nausea can happen due to various reasons, such as – gastrointestinal problems, central nervous system disorder, hepatorenal dysfunction, or because of treatments that are being used to treat the disease.
Now, medical cannabis is known to deal with symptoms of nausea. Cannabinoids present in cannabis can ease vomiting and nausea. There is a specific location on the midline of the brainstem, known as the dorsal raphe nucleus. Now the cannabinoids indirectly activate a particular serotonin-receptor present in this dorsal raphe nucleus.
In fact, there is enough anecdotal evidence to prove the effectiveness of cannabis in treating feelings of nausea in HIV/AIDS patients. The same 2005 study also found that 93 percent of HIV-positive patients using cannabis reported having improvements in nausea after smoking.
Benefit 3. Cannabis Can be Helpful in Boosting Mood And Acts as an Antidepressant
HIV/AIDS sufferers often have to deal with anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. This can happen because of some negative physiological, social, and psychological pressures. The 2005 study found out that 93 percent of respondents reported experiencing relief from anxiety after using cannabis. Along with this, 86 percent reported an improvement in depression.
The 2007 double-blind study into cannabis and dronabinol showed that both these substances can help in improving mood. Both cannabis and dronabinol can cause “good drug effects” that can increase the feelings of friendliness, self-respect, and stimulation.
Benefit 4. Cannabis Can be Used as an Analgesic to Reduce Pain
People suffering from HIV/AIDS have to bear severe and debilitating pain that arises from various complex sources. They may experience joint pain, nerve pain, and muscle pain. The 2005 study also found that 94 percent of HIV-positive patients get relief from muscle pain after using cannabis. Also, 90 percent of them reported improvement in neuropathy (or nerve pain), and 85 percent reported improvement in paresthesia.
Medical cannabis is known to manage chronic pain, which can also help HIV/AIDS sufferers. Medical cannabis is a natural, safer, and potentially-cheaper way to deal with severe pain associated with HIV/AIDS. It can be used as an alternative to other opioids.
Benefit 5. Cannabis Can Help in Reducing Peripheral Neuropathy
A specific and common form of pain that is associated with HIV/AIDS is peripheral neuropathy. It occurs when one or more nerves outside your spinal cord and brain become damaged. This leads to pain, paresthesia, twitching, impaired coordination, and muscle loss. Paresthesia is when you experience a pricking or burning feeling, which is commonly experienced in your legs, arms, feet, or hands.
Medical cannabis is known to help in improving symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. It can help people suffering from HIV/AIDS and some other conditions such as diabetes. The 2005 study showed that 90 percent of respondents reported improvement in their nerve pain after using cannabis.