Top 5 Benefits of Cannabis for HIV/AIDS

Medicinal marijuana is well known for being effective at easing symptoms in HIV/AIDS sufferers. Its analgesic and anti-emetic effects are just a few reasons why so many HIV patients report using cannabis. But indirect effects, like promoting a healthy appetite can also be helpful. How does it do all this? Here’s what the research so far tells us.

HIV/AIDS refers to a group of conditions caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Around 37.9 million people worldwide are infected with the HIV virus in 2018, with nearly 39,000 people in the US alone was diagnosed with it in 2017. AIDS has caused approximately 32 million deaths since the start of the epidemic, and roughly a 770,000 people died from it in 2018.

There are very many symptoms and health problems that can arise with HIV/AIDS. So there’s an enormous need for not only viable cures, but treatments to ease symptoms. While it’s no cure, cannabis has been shown to be extremely effective at treating several important symptoms of HIV/AIDS.

1. THC can help increase appetite

Loss of appetite is often reported by people with HIV, but it’s important for them to avoid weight loss. When loss of appetite becomes an issue, cannabis can be used to improve appetite.

2005 survey conducted on 523 HIV-positive patients found that 143 (27%) of the respondents used cannabis to manage their symptoms. An overwhelming 97% of them reported that they experienced improvements in appetite.

In 2007, a double-blind study was conducted into the effects of smoked cannabis and oral dronabinol (a synthetic form of THC). This study found that both cannabis and dronabinol increased caloric intake compared to placebo, in a dose-dependent manner in HIV-positive cannabis users.

Recent research (2018) says that cannabis vapour (used to simulate how people commonly consume cannabis) results in more frequent meals, although they’re smaller. When used on lab rats, it triggered them to eat, even though they had already eaten recently. So it’s believed to somehow trick the brain’s appetite sensors into sensing hunger.

In the 2017 study, food consumption averaged 404 kcal across the board, but dronabinol and cannabis caused a significant shift in distribution of nutrient intake. When given a placebo, patients derived 51% of their nutrients from carbohydrates, 36% from fat, and 13% from protein. But when given either dronabinol or cannabis, this changed:

  • Dronabinol – Fat consumption increased to 40% and carbohydrate consumption decreased.
  • Cannabis – Protein consumption dropped to 11% while fat consumption tended to increase.

When given high doses of cannabis and dronabinol, patients experienced significant increases in body weight, too. Under placebo conditions, the respondents’ mean weight was 77.5 kg; after four days of cannabis, patients gained 1.1 kg, and after four days of dronabinol, patients gained 1.2 kg.

2. Help ease nausea with cannabis

Nausea is a common symptom of HIV infection, and as the disease progresses, the causes of the nausea can become increasingly complex. Nausea may arise due to gastrointestinal issues, hepatorenal dysfunction, central nervous system disorders, or as a result of treatments used to treat the disease.

The ability of cannabinoids and certain synthetic analogues to counter the symptoms of nausea in HIV/AIDS patients is well-known. Cannabidiol eases vomiting & nausea by indirectly activating a specific serotonin-receptor in the dorsal raphe nucleus (a specific location on the midline of the brainstem).

In fact, the THC analogue dronabinol is approved by the US Food & Drug Administration for the treatment of nausea and appetite loss associated with cancer and HIV. An early study into the dronabinol as a treatment for AIDS-induced appetite loss was published in 1995, and found that patients experienced an average 20% improvement in nausea.

The previously-mentioned 2005 patient survey found that 93% of HIV-positive cannabis users reported subjective improvements in nausea after smoking. Another 2005 study found that among HIV-positive patients experiencing nausea, those who used cannabis were more likely to adhere to their anti-retroviral therapies than non-users. Patients not suffering from nausea did not experience significant improvements in adherence if they used cannabis, indicating that adherence was increased by improving symptoms of nausea.

3. Cannabis may help boost mood and act as an antidepressant

Anxiety, depression, and mood disorders are a common feature of HIV/AIDS, and can arise due to a combination of negative physiological, psychological, and social pressures. The 2005 patient survey found that 93% of respondents experienced relief of anxiety after using cannabis, while 86% reported an improvement in depression too.

The above-mentioned 2007 double-blind study into cannabis and dronabinol found that both substances improved respondents’ mood and caused a “good drug effect” that increased feelings of friendliness, stimulation, and self-confidence. Interestingly, lower doses of THC seemed to provoke higher rates of anxiety in the subjects than higher doses of THC, or dronabinol at any dose.

4. Using cannabis as an analgesic to reduce pain

HIV/AIDS can cause severe and debilitating pain that arises from various complex sources, including joint, nerve, and muscle pain. A 2011 cross-sectional study on 296 socioeconomically disadvantaged patients found that 53.7% had severe pain, 38.1% had moderate pain, and 8.2% had mild pain. Over half the subjects had a prescription for an opioid analgesic. More severe pain was also found to correlate with incidences of depression.

The 2005 patient survey found that 94% of respondents experienced relief from muscle pain as a result of using cannabis. 90% also reported improvement in neuropathy (nerve pain) and 85% in paresthesia (burning, tingling and prickling sensations).

The fact that cannabis can provide significant long-term subjective relief of chronic pain in HIV/AIDS sufferers is noteworthy. Safer and potentially-cheaper medications that could replace use of opioids in disadvantaged groups could have several positive ramifications, including a decline in opioid-related deaths and increased availability of medicine to those in need.

5. Cannabis can reduce peripheral neuropathy

A specific and particularly common form of pain associated with HIV/AIDS is peripheral neuropathy, in which one or more nerves of the peripheral nervous system (any part of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord) become damaged and lead to pain, twitching, paresthesia, muscle loss, and impaired coordination. It has been shown that cannabis can help improve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in HIV/AIDS, as well as in other conditions in which it appears, such as diabetes.

Beyond the above-mentioned subjective reports of reduced nerve pain and paraesthesia, several other studies have assessed the ability of cannabis to improve peripheral neuropathy in HIV/AIDS patients.

In 2007, a patient survey conducted in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Colombia and Taiwan found that 67 of 450 patients with peripheral neuropathy reported use of cannabis to improve their symptoms.

A randomized placebo-controlled trial also published in 2007 found that pain was reduced by over 30% in 52% of the cannabis-using group and by just 24% of the control group, and that there were no serious adverse effects. The first joint smoked by the cannabis-using patients reduced chronic pain by a median of 72% compared to 15% in the placebo group.

In 2009, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial into the effectiveness of cannabis in reducing HIV-associated polyneuropathy found that of 28 subjects, neuropathy was reduced by over 30% in 46% of the cannabis-using group and 18% of the control group. It also found that mood physical disability, and quality of life were improved by a similar degree throughout the course of the study.

  • Disclaimer:
    This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your doctor or other licensed medical professional. Do not delay seeking medical advice or disregard medical advice due to something you have read on this website.

Comments

45 thoughts on “Top 5 Benefits of Cannabis for HIV/AIDS”

  1. i am hiv positive from 2012 and doc suggested me to start taking pills to increase my some count in blood
    but i never wanted to live that way so i avoided it and i used to pot earlier and i started again and start living my life it helps me to mood swings and the fact that i dont have any life or future i just have to live by today
    u cannot love anyone because u know u dont worth it
    so cannabis helped me to be happy and focus on short term goals
    i dont know i am right or wrong bit it never counts when u know the fact that u will die soon
    And only this moment counts
    so its btr to take pills and live like a dead body and wait fr ur death to go out have some pot fly ur imagination make some short term goals and enjoy

    1. Sir u are wrong go do u research. People that are hiv positive and live a normal life span with the new medication in the market. I have been hiv postive for 15 years and i’m happy and healthy. Never lose hope specially that a cure is around the corner.
      I’m a doctor myself btw so i know what i’m talking about

      1. Agreed. I was just diagnosed 48hrs ago. This prompted research and the medication today is not that same deadly poison as in the past. People now living into 70s with HIV (well the specialist told me he is treating someone in their 70s who has had it over decade). Look into the medication. If you still decide to not take then at least do the following. Making your bodies pH level alkaline is the best option for you. Incorporate antiviral natural items within your diet like elderberries. The most important thing is health and loving yourself. There is also communities out there for POS people. Keep up to date on studies (ex: 3 days ago a report from Zion Pharma developed Gomorrah which scientifically kills 94-97% of the virus in the body. Thing is that in science you want 100% so they are continuing working). End of last month UK release they cured someone where 5 universities worked together. There is also a drug coming out around 2020 that allows one shot every 6 months to supress HIV so you dont have to take pills daily. Just alkaline your body and continue to learn and you’ll be fine. xoxo brother Rocky

      2. Bravo Doctor..i agree with you for sure..but i would like to take Hemp products to fight against my angiety and my HiV statut that is pretty well ..i need your help please….

    2. Sir I have been positive since May of 1992. My husband was diagnosed in Sept 1987. We are married now for to two and a half years. We live on a farm with lots of animals. I say that is a pretty long and productive life for the both of us you can do this to.

  2. Having HIV doesn’t mean that you are not worth loving, you are! Learn to love yourself and love will find you. And take Alex’s advice and go get some meds, there’s no reason you can’t live a long healthy life.

  3. Hi, still waiting to go have test done for colon cancer but my sis has HIV, question is can she use cannibis for the HIV and it might also help if she has cancer? Killing 2 bird with 1stone? My mom died of colon cancer and my sisters symptoms are exact same too… so it could possibly kill the cancer!!!

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Dear Missy,

      Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, as Sensi Seeds is not a medical practice, we are not able to provide any advice relating to medical situations other than to consult your doctor or other licensed medical professional. This article, written specifically for healthcare providers who may not be aware of the many properties of cannabis, may be useful to you in talking with your doctor. You could also try to contact local medicinal cannabis support groups, if you have not already done so. In the UK, there is the United Patients Alliance (you can find them on Facebook) and in the US there are many branches of NORML (google NORML followed by your area name). We hope this is helpful.

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

    2. Please any answer for me can cannabis or marijuana brings my hiv virus low which the virus won`t harm me or growing me learn

      1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

        Hi John,

        Please note that this article is about ways in which cannabis can help relieve symptoms of HIV and AIDS, not reverse them. There are no scientific studies that suggest cannabis can affect the virus itself. The only things that can do that are the anti-viral medications prescribed by doctors. It is essential to realise that cannabis can help alongside these medications, but should not be used to replace them.

        Additionally, Sensi Seeds is not a medical agency or practitioner, we cannot give any kind of medical advice other than to consult our registered healthcare professional. This article about the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis might be useful for you to show your healthcare provider if they are not familiar with it.

        You may also find it helpful to contact a support group for medicinal cannabis patients. In the UK there is the United Patients Alliance, and throughout much of the rest of the world there is NORML, who should be able to put you in touch with a group in your area (search United Patients Alliance or NORML followed by your area name).

        This are our pages on medicinal cannabis and medicinal cannabis strains, which you might also find interesting.

        With best wishes,

        Scarlet

  4. I’m a straight make. Who was raped by 4 males in 2001. And they all where HIV positive. Which lead me to become HIV positive. I have for the past year been a active smoking 420 since I became pos.
    I have grate improvements in my viral load, T cells, depression and uncontrollable shaking from nerve damage. In fact since I started smoking I sen my numbers, nerve damage all be reversed.Our government really need to pass the medical 420 bill. And I love this study and post. I totally agree with it.

  5. I have lived HIV positive since 2010 I started on my Antivirals after 3years when I became pregnant. I gave birth to a healthy baby. But viral load was 315 and I kept taking medication now it’s UN detachable. I have been juicing fresh leaves of marijjuana canabise and drink. Or boil the fresh leaves.

    1. Hi Alex, I am also HIV positive, I feel so depressed until now. I am a new found HIV subject. My CD4 count is 21. How can I make it to a normal CD4 count?

      I hope Alex would respond to my reply to his comment.

      1. My friend, we are the same, when I get tested I found out that my cd4 count is just 19… i have no infections and im very healthy.. im just following my doctor’s advice.. as long as you undergoing threatment the hiv will stop destroying you.. the virus will sleep and your cd4 will rise again.. just do healthy living to help your cd4. My doctor is telling a story about a patient with only 1 cd4.. after a 3 months of threatment his cd4 increased to 300.. so dont lose hope my friend, just get yourself treated, you are on the right track.. just follow ur doctor’s advice ok

      2. Hi, you seriously need to see a doctor and get put on meds right away. The meds will stop the HIV from growing anymore and eventually reduce the virus down to an undetectable level. Once there your CD4 counts will naturally start to rebuild themselves although it takes time to rebuild CD 4 count from 21 to 500 (normal person) it can be done as i am living proof. You can use Cannabis to help with any pain or depression, inflammation etc to help. But if your count is really 21 you need medical help real soon.

  6. Just wanted to know if HIV people can smoke cannibas to help lower the HIV in the body system. I am a stoner of 8 years here soon and wanted to know if someone like me can still take HIV medication and smoke cannibas to maintain a healthy lifestyle

    1. Ive heard that cannibas oil stops the spread of hiv and i have been taking it my test results came back negative
      Read Rick Simpson Phoenix tears on fb he shows u how to make it

      1. Hi Andrea.

        Could you tell me please. What quantify of oil did you take per day?

  7. I havent got my test back but im scare and my boyfriend is with me all the way i was resurching online to see what i can do and i read the comments yall helped alot

  8. What a wonderful advise, I just found out that m HIV positive was feeling horrible but after I started smoking marijuana I feel free and believe we can leave as much as our time while taking my medication

  9. There is so much to say....is there any alternative way you can be heal by natrual plants herbs etc. any doctor or person with expreience can amswer that question for me

    There is so much to say….my question is there any alternative way you can be heal by natural plants herbs etc. any doctor or person with experience can answer that question for me.

  10. Look up Rick Simpson Phoenix tears tells u about cannabis oil which prevents hiv from spreading
    My blood came up negative whilst taking the oil……
    Try it
    He shows you how to make YOUR own oil

      1. Only HIV antiviral meds can turn HIV positive to undetectable. Cannabis oil can help with the symptoms of HIV, improve appetite, reduce joint pain etc.

  11. Hiv isn’t a scary disease I am currently in a relationship with a Hiv positive person and aslong as u take your meds as advised ull be ok.. He smokes weed too and I worry it will make his immune system weak or make his medz ineffective but from your comments am alittle at ease..

  12. From what I read above this site should not be promoting “NOT TAKING YOUR MEDS” for HIV and using Cannabis as a ‘REPLACEMENT” for the life saving HIV meds now available. I would hate to be the person that runs this website and have it proven someone dies because they took the advice off of here. It is the meds that stop the growth of the virus and bring it down to an”UNDETECTABLE” level. Only then do your CD 4″s start to rebuild themselves and it takes a long time (years) before your CD 4 levels will stabilize. Yes Cannabis is great for all kinds of patients wanting to relive themselves of pain, depression, inflammation and on and on and on but it is no wonder drug like some here think it is. One guy on here said he was depressed but then smoked some cannabis and then felt great and then said he did not need meds ?? Yeah you feel great because the drug makes you feel great but that does not mean your health has improved from the HIV. People think that because they feel fine that they are healthy but in the meantime they are losing the battle inside their bodies to the vicious HIV virus. Don’t be a fool use both your HIV meds and Cannabis together and it will work.

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks for your comment. Nowhere in the article is it recommended, or even suggested, that people should stop taking or reduce their medication. It would be irresponsible of us to send any such signals, and as an authoritative site on cannabis, we are always careful to stress that we are not a medical practice and cannot give any kind of medical advice. This article is concerned only with ways in which cannabis can help alleviate symptoms of HIV and AIDS, and/or side effects of treatment. Each way is backed up with scientific studies and evidence.

      Comments left by our readers are only edited for reasons of offense, external links, clarity, and so forth, so approving a comment does not equal endorsement of the views expressed in it. Sensi Seeds emphatically does not recommend substituting cannabis for any treatment prescribed by a medical professional.

      I hope this clarifies our position, and the information provided in the article.

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

  13. I got my diagnosis of being HIV positive and I thought it was going to ruin my life. I thought it was a death sentence even though I knew about how good the antiretroviral therapy medication is and I’m a veteran so I’m lucky that I have the VA. Either way the meds really do a number of my stomach with nausea, and while I can’t say for sure when I contracted HIV I have suffered from depression and neuropathy, chronic inflammation/pain and other ailments from it. Regardless, the VA hospital wants to prescribe me painkillers and nerve medications to take round the clock that make me feel like a zombie and a junkie. What I have found is that medical cannabis has alleviated my symptoms of nerve pain, chronic pain and inflammation, increases my appetite and eases my nausea, and as well I firmly believe it has been a contributing factor at helping to keep my viral load at undetectable levels. The reason I can say this with a relative degree of certainty is that at one point my PCP made me choose between opiates or Marijuana and I thought I needed opiates more and so I chose them and my next blood test showed for the first time since being on Antiretroviral Therapy and not on Marijuana a detectable viral load. Granted it was very low (only 54.4 copies/ml) and by many tests would still be considered undetectable/suppressed and my doctor described it as a small viral blip, I still found it to be ironic that the one time since diagnosed the only variablestjat had changed in my life were that I had stopped using marijuana and kept using opiates to treat pain. The doctors and big Pharmaceutical companies don’t want to admit what many of us living with this
    disease already know and that is that it helps us in more ways than they want to admit. The federal government classifies marijuana as Schedule I but Marinol/Dronabinol as Schedule III. Can anyone explain that to me? Anyways, long story short, I live in Texas, and I have HIV, and I’m married to a woman that loves me unconditionally who doesn’t have HIV. Because I have HIV doesn’t make me any less worthy of being loved or make me any less of a person. I didn’t ask for this disease. I fight it every day. But unfortunately until the draconian in Texas laws change I’m a Criminal because I use a plant to help me fight my disease. Thank you for reading my post. I welcome all comments or questions.

    1. Hi, Ryan. I don’t know enough to answer you about the schedules, but I’m happy to hear that you have a great support group and a working treatment. Not everybody has that kind of privilege. I also wonder if you’ve stopped taking opiates and go back to marijuana. I hope you are healthy and safe wherever you are.
      I shared this great article and discussions with my friends hoping that it will inspire more people to fight the disease.

      1. Hi Stranger,

        Thanks for your comment. Yes I’m still using MMJ, and haven’t taken opiates since making the decision of marijuana over opiates. My viral load is still undetectable and my wife recently tested Negative again. My CD4 count is 850+ which is great considering it was like 400 At diagnosis. Marijuana has helped me get my life back and has helped me maintain a healthy weight by stimulating my appetite. When my stomach starts to get the bubble guts I take a little tincture or smoke a little and within minutes my stomach settles down and I’m able to have relief. It’s helped me with nerve pain also. It’s a game changer for me.

  14. I am 57 and HIV+ for 17 years since 2001.
    1st off, I see a post here of a person feeling very destitute and that he is not going to live long.
    What u have learned is that there is no golden rule of “one size fits all”.
    Everyone seem to have different experiences.
    There are people that are doing excellent on medication and functioning normal.
    Then there are people that seem to get all the side effects of the medicine, depression, Pherifiral Neuropathy, permanently fatigue, headaches, mussle dystrophy etc.
    I have been one of those unlucky ones.
    I have also become Diabetic Type1 5 years ago. (If I had to choose between the 2, I’d rather get HIV 3 times than Diabetes Type1 once.
    It is really a dreadful decease and tic’s all the negative boxes.
    I also suffer from severe Lower Back Pain for which I use to take pain medication that is bad for your gut and just alround bad for one.
    A year ago I decided to experiment with Cannabis Oil for the pain.
    Well I was so surprised, my pain was taken care off within a couple of days and still 90% pain free.
    With my last routine blood tests after being on the Cannabis Oil for a year, my CD4 count was 1598, were as before it would never rise above 1000.
    I am convinced it is as a result of the Oil.
    Under supervising of my Cannabis Oil Thetapist, Doctor and a specialist in Holistic Healing, I have decided to cycle off ARV’s and Anti Depressants and see what results the Oil give me after 6 months.
    It is my decisions to do the trial and am quite exited about it.
    Why am I doing this?
    Because my quality of life has become so poor, and I am hopeful that without all the toxic medicine my quality will improve.
    I will keep a Journal to track my experiences.

  15. Hi everyone!

    I’m a young Colombian guy who has also a story to share as you all. I’ve been raped by two guys… Since that episode I’ve been dealing not only with my HIV treatment but I also developed a bipolar diagnosis as well due to the trauma.

    Today I can say that I’m a young happy Colombian guy! And yes, cannabis has been an amazing help for both diagnosis, to help with my sickness, I’ve been gaining weight again, I’m doing sports as well and as an artist I find my self in peace to continue with my art work.

    My parents are pastors, so as you may imagine we have discussed about the use of this plant. But even if you believe in God or no, I can tell you that this plant is one of the best creations that we discovered and its responsable and conscious use has helped me and I’m sure it helps a lot of people around the globe.

    Cheer up! Remember: You may have a disease, but the disease does not have you.

    Thanks for the post, much love to you all!

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story with us. I am very glad to hear that cannabis helps you, and your outlook on life is truly inspiring. Much love to you too!

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

  16. I am 21 and was diagnosed positive 2 weeks ago with a CD4 count of 48. I just started my Antivirals yesterday with other Profilaxis meds. I also have PCP. an I smoke pot? And How will i know if its medical marijuana? Are all marijuana plants medicinal?

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi James,

      Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your situation. As Sensi Seeds is not a medical agency or practitioner, we cannot give any kind of medical advice other than to consult our registered healthcare professional. This article about the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis might be useful for you to show your healthcare provider if they are not familiar with it.

      You may also find it helpful to contact a support group for medicinal cannabis patients. In the UK there is the United Patients Alliance, and throughout much of the rest of the world there is NORML, who should be able to put you in touch with a group in your area (search United Patients Alliance or NORML followed by your area name).

      This are our pages on medicinal cannabis and medicinal cannabis strains, which you might also find interesting.

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

  17. Black seeds ground with honey will make you negative in a year or two. Additionally you can add cbd oil with high THC or juicing plant for complete remission

    [Editor’s note – I am posting this in the interests of freedom of communication and opinion but would like to remind everyone that there are no scientific studies or evidence referenced with this comment and you should always consult a registered medical professional before stopping or starting any course of medication – Scarlet]

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