Categorized | Medical Uses

Medical Marijuana for Aids/HIV

One very specific grouping of diseases or conditions that result from severe suppression of the immune system is AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.  It has been determined that the infectious agent which causes AIDS is HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus.  The immune system, specifically T cells, is attacked and destroyed by the HIV and unfortunately the standard treatments for HIV are extremely toxic. {{{o}}}  Current drugs, such as AZT or Zidovudine, can be used to treat HIV but has a harsh side effect such as horrific nausea which causes the patient to feel worse after the therapy to treat HIV.  In addition, loss of appetite and therefore weight loss is a major result of the nausea which can cause another medical issue called AIDS Wasting Syndrome.  This particular syndrome is one of the primary causes of death due to AIDS as it deprives the body of what it needs and leaves it vulnerable to more unwanted, and possibly more severe, medical issues.

HIV-AIDS-picWhen treating such severe medical conditions as AIDS, the methods of treatment stay within the realm of current pharmaceuticals and processes.  Some patients who don’t do well with the “regular” therapies and methods often look elsewhere for options to assist them with dealing with their disease or condition.  Marijuana is one of these unique “options” that is found and is becoming a more popular form of assistance to help endure the disease and the effects is gives.  Marijuana can assist with reducing nausea, improve the patients diet, relieves muscle spasms, chronic fatigue and pain.  Having AIDS is harmful to the body let alone adding the toxic from the treatments on top of it.  AIDS patients are looking more and more for other alternatives to help them live a normal life as possible.

Opponents of marijuana use as a medical treatment argue that the marijuana as adverse effects on the patients immune system.  Once AIDS became more widespread, more studies have been done to determine if marijuana does or does not weaken the body’s defense system.  There have been multiple studies done which were not able to find supporting evidence that smoking marijuana causes additional damage to the immune system.  The FDA, in 1992, approved the use of THC (Marinol) as part of treatment of AIDS Wasting Syndrome.

There are risks of smoking marijuana by an AIDS patient and these are contamination and reducing the resistance to respiratory infections.  These risks can occur with long term, heavy use of smoking marijuana.  If the marijuana is sterilized and ingested rather then smoked, can greatly reduce these risks.

Science

From the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, there have been disputes about marijuana’s effectiveness and safety to the patient as it can potentially harmful to the patient’s immune system.  This in turn caused unconfirmed studies to be done of which none could find supporting evidence that marijuana weakened the immune system.  There was one study that found evidence but when other testing was done to recreate the original testing, it could not be done.

A study called the San Francisco’s Men’s Health Study began in 1984 and followed the effects of specific recreational drugs and alcohol on the possible progression of AIDS over a 6 year period.  Marijuana was one drug that studied and the results showed a decreased rate of the AIDS progression.

A study focusing on food intake in humans in association with marijuana was done in 1985 at Johns Hopkins University and determined that the caloric intake was higher when marijuana was also consumed.  The male patients received either a placebo or an actual marijuana cigarette which contained low concentrations of THC.  The patients who received the placebo consumed consistently less calories on a daily basis compared to those who received the marijuana cigarette.

The American Medical Association featured a study in 1989 which attempted to determine what effects psychoactive drugs and alcohol possibly had on the possibility of increasing the immunodeficiency in HIV 1 positive patients.  One substance that was studied, marijuana, and was determined that it didn’t little if any affect on the infection or caused a larger T cell count.

A study done that began in 1995 at the University of California was to review the effects of marijuana that was smoked compared to Marionol.  The FDA stated that the study could only use marijuana from the farm located in Mississippi that was controlled by the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse).  Unfortunately, the NIDA denied the UOC’s request for marijuana to do the research.  After Prop 215 was passed, pressure was placed on the NIDA to allow the use of their crops and eventually it was allowed and the research began.

The NIH or National Institute of Health determined in 1997 that Cannabinoids, a compound of marijuana, do suppress some immune system responses but can work well in others.  In addition, there was no evidence that Cannabinoids harm or lower the T cells of an HIV patient.

 

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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