Cannabis Fights HIV

One more disease that bows in the face of a joint is HIV

He probably already does a lot of dope, but now he has a medical reason. Photo: Mike Mozart

He probably already does a lot of dope, but now he has a medical reason. Photo: Mike Mozart

Support for the usage of cannabis for medical reasons is at a record high in the United States, with surveys finding more than 70 percent of people in favour. There’s now another reason for this: it’s also true that cannabis fights HIV, Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus, which leads to AIDS.

Depression and lack of appetite and nausea, oh my!

Long have HIV and AIDS patients appreciated the effects cannabis has on the resultant conditions such as depression, lack of appetite, nausea, pain, sleeping problems and weight loss, with surveys putting the figure as high as 60 percent. One study published in 2007 found that HIV/AIDS sufferers who smoked cannabis four times a day experienced “substantial … increases in food intake? with little discomfort and no impairment of cognitive performance. The journal, Neurology, published the findings of researchers at San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California’s Pain Clinical Research Center that smoking dope lessened pain by a very significant 34 percent.

More clinical trials have found that cannabis increases the prevalence of appetite hormones in the blood of people with HIV, which you doubtless didn’t already know if you had ever been afflicted by The Munchies. Folk will similarly already be well-aware that cannabis promotes sleep. At least one study found that patients who indulge in therapeutic cannabis usage were 3.3 times as likely to adhere to their drug regimens as non-users. According to Dr Julio Montaner of the internationally-renowned British Columbia Centre of Excellence in HIV/AIDS, ?We have long heard from our patients that they perceive health benefits from cannabis use.?

How cannabis fights HIV, exactly

More and more scientific studies by highly-reputable institutions which were published in esteemed medical journals have found that cannabis fights HIV. When infection arises, the virus attacks gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which houses a large proportion of the immune system. This is thought to be critical in the spread of HIV in a body. One study by the US National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Drug Abuse uncovered the fact that THC, the fun bit of cannabis, exerted a healthful influence upon GALT in monkeys carrying SIV, HIV’s simian equivalent: five months down the line, it had caused a reduction of viral load and inflammation of tissue and greater production of CD4 and CD8 cells, which fight disease.

Cannabis’ effects stem from the interaction between the cannabinoids it contains and receptors housed in many cells, which include the CD4 cells, cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). It’s the CB1s that make you high. In 2012, researcher’s at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine released data showing that stimulating CB2s blocks signalling betwixt HIV and CXCR4, one of HIV’s principal avenues to cells long after HIV has become AIDS. The reduction in infection was between 30 and 60 percent.

While Big Pharma has to date disdained the fact that cannabis fights HIV, a great number of universities and a teeny number of biotech companies have not. Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis are also possibilities.

If you post cannabis, don’t put the address on the envelope

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