HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. People with HIV are usually treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART), and this is one of the most common and effective treatments available. However, while the current treatments for the disease have been proven effective, not all patients can tolerate the side effects.

One of these side effects is wasting syndrome also known as cachexia, which results in sudden weight loss. Additionally, people who undergo antiretroviral treatment often experience peripheral neuropathy, nausea, joint pain, and muscle pain.

Fortunately, there are studies that show how medical cannabis can help ease the symptoms and side effects of HIV, including loss of appetite, weight loss, and nerve pain. In general, medical marijuana is a great option to treat many other complications associated with HIV-AIDS, including the side effects of using antiretroviral drugs.

That is why some people prefer to use medical marijuana to help alleviate the side effects mentioned earlier. What’s more, studies show that medical cannabis may have the possibility to potentially provide patients with long-term benefits.

History of Cannabis As a Treatment for HIV-AIDS

HIV is a serious illness that became widely recognized across the United States starting in the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. With a lack of proper treatment, people living with the disease were at a high risk to get infected with other diseases.

person in white shirt with a red ribbon pinned to it

HIV wasting syndrome, or sudden and excessive weight loss, is one of the most common side effects of HIV. This side effect is what led doctors to try using medical marijuana to help patients regain their appetite.

How Medical Cannabis Help With HIV

Medical cannabis is proven to help people with HIV manage their symptoms, such as follows:

Wasting Syndrome

Profound weight loss is an issue experienced by many HIV patients. Since most people with HIV-AIDS experience loss of appetite during the treatment, weight loss is a common side effect. Because marijuana has appetite-stimulating properties, it can help HIV-AIDS patients improve their appetite and regain some healthy weight.

Fortunately, the FDA has approved the use of dronabinol (Marinol). This is a THC-containing prescription drug that stimulates the appetite of people who are suffering from the disease.

HIV Nerve Pain

Another common symptom of HIV is peripheral neuropathy. This refers to nerve pain which happens when some of the nerves get damaged. This is often triggered by the virus and antiretroviral treatment. Moreover, since HIV weakens the immune system, HIV patients can easily get infected by other diseases that might cause peripheral neuropathy.

person holding their wrist in pain

People with peripheral neuropathy may feel burning, stabbing, or tingling sensations in their hands and feet. While there’s not much research on the effects of using medical cannabis against nerve pain, some studies show that using it helps minimize nerve pains in some patients.

Lung Health

It’s important to note that smoking marijuana is not good for your lungs. While marijuana contains a lot of potential medicinal benefits, marijuana smoke contains the same toxins, carcinogens, and other irritants.

In fact, research shows that smoking marijuana can lead to a variety of health issues, including bronchitis, wheezing, coughing, and other respiratory infections. The good news is that HIV-AIDS patients can take advantage of the benefits of medical cannabis without the need to smoke marijuana.

With the availability of oral medical cannabis (prescription medication made with THC), it’s much easier to use without posing more risk to your lung health. Moreover, there are other related products like CBD oil, which also comes from marijuana.

Effective Ways of Taking Medical Cannabis for HIV-AIDS

Using medical cannabis to help relieve the symptoms of the virus and the side effects of medications used to treat it, is more effective when administered orally or sublingually. Some people living with the disease also use topical and transdermal medical cannabis products as effective ways to minimize the side effects of HIV-AIDS.

Pros and Cons of Taking Medical Cannabis for HIV-AIDS

Before deciding to take any form of medical cannabis to treat HIV-AIDS, it’s important to know the pros and cons associated with this alternative medicine.

person using CBD infused lotion on their hands

Here are the potential benefits of using medical cannabis to treat HIV-AIDS:

  • It can help stimulate a person’s appetite, which is an important benefit for people experiencing cachexia and loss of appetite as side effects of the virus and medications/treatment.
  • It can help alleviate nausea and vomiting.
  • It can improve mood and reduce fatigue and insomnia. This can be generally helpful, especially for those who are experiencing anxiety and depression due to the disease.
  • Using it may suppress HIV viral replication.
  • It can help control inflammation. Plus, it may have the potential to slow the progression of the virus to some extent.
  • People living with HIV-AIDS may experience muscle pain and neuropathic pain. Using cannabis can help alleviate these symptoms.

Below are the possible drawbacks of using medical cannabis to treat HIV-AIDS:

  • Taking cannabis that isn’t grown well may contain pathogens that may cause an infection.
  • Misuse of cannabinoids may further weaken the immune system.
  • Using cannabis may worsen the feeling of having a“cottonmouth”, which is a common side-effect of HIV-AIDS treatment.
  • Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory health concerns and may irritate the throat and lungs. This is why smoking is not recommended.

Note that it’s best to consult with your doctor regarding what treatments will be best for you.

Bottom Line

Medical cannabis may help manage the symptoms and side effects of HIV-AIDS and its medications. The symptoms it can potentially treat include loss of appetite, HIV wasting, chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and nausea. Avoid smoking cannabis to help mitigate the negative side effects of using medical cannabis.

If you would like your medical marijuana card can contact the experts at the Malie Cannabis Clinic today!