Cannabis is rising in popularity for its ability to act as an alternative treatment for HIV/AIDS symptoms. Research shows that it may help with different debilitating symptoms linked to the disease as well as antiretroviral therapy. Reports show that cannabis may help HIV /AIDS patients with weight loss, nausea, pain, anxiety, and depression.
The benefits of cannabis have made most clinicians recognize different symptoms. Recent studies show that cannabis may even directly address HIV by reducing the load of the virus. This can help to slow the progression of the disease. Cannabis works safely for most people with minor and transient side effects.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS consists of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. This biological system helps maintain homeostasis: a healthy state of balance in the body. This system also regulates several primary physiological processes, including immune, cognitive, and gastrointestinal function, mood, sleep, appetite, and pain.
Currently, there is little research into the involvement of the ECS in HIV/AIDS. Regardless, we believe that the ECS regulates processes involved in different HIV/AIDS symptoms and antiretroviral therapy. This includes pain, appetite, and cognitive and gastrointestinal function. Moreover, the immunomodulatory effects of the ECS may reduce the progression of the disease.
The endocannabinoid system regulates gut function. When the CB1 receptors are activated, it reduces gastrointestinal motility, the mobility of muscles in the gut. Issues in the gut can lead to several digestive symptoms, including nausea, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Therefore, targeting the ECS may help improve gut functioning as well as other digestive issues common in HIV/AIDS patients.
The endocannabinoid system may also help mental health and maybe influential in conditions such as anxiety and depression. Brain imaging studies in mentally disordered patients resulted in alterations in the cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and related enzymes. Therefore, targeting the ECS may reduce anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues common in HIV/AIDS patients.
Research on cannabis and HIV
Since the ECS virtually affects every process affected by HIV/AIDS, it’s obvious why many cannabis-based medicines relieve HIV/AIDS symptoms. Cannabis-based medicines may be useful for weight loss, nausea, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and other debilitating symptoms associated with the condition as well as antiretroviral therapies used to treat it.
A landmark 1995 study showed that THC-based drug dronabinol helps to treat AIDS wasting syndrome, a condition that brings about weight loss. According to this study, 139 AIDS patients experienced improvements in appetite and saw no loss in weight (in 22% of the sample). The treatment also boosted mood and reduced nausea.
A 2005 trial study also reported similar findings. In this study, both dronabinol and whole cannabis increased the consumption of food among patients experiencing AIDS-related weight loss. Cannabis-based medications are so effective. This has made cannabis a great alternative to counteract AIDS-related wasting. Only a few therapies can match the effectiveness of cannabis in alleviating symptoms of wasting.
There’s a need for more research on the benefits of cannabis in HIV/AIDS. However, current studies suggest that cannabis can effectively relieve many symptoms experienced by HIV/AIDS patients.
Current antiviral HIV medications have massively helped in blocking the progression of HIV. People who take these medications experience little or no viral load. Sadly, these antiviral drugs have side effects. Cannabis can mitigate the side effects of antiviral drugs. Cannabis also helps in limiting the disease progression of HIV.