HIV attacks the body in a sinister way, leading to the destruction of white CD4 blood cells. With these critical helper cells failing their duties, eventually the entire immune system breaks down. Those suffering the virus will face many symptoms, including constant tiredness, fever and weight loss. In this article, we’ll look at the CBD cannabis compound as a potentially ground-breaking treatment.
Conventional ARV Treatment
Traditionally, antiretroviral (ARV) drugs have been the main weapon against HIV. In the early days, the adverse effects of these drugs were a primary reason for patients canceling or changing their treatment. Among the more serious risks are bone loss, cardiovascular events, depression, liver damage, or severe skin conditions.
It’s important to remember that most drugs have potential side effects. In addition, regimens for ARV treatment are more refined now than in the past. Recent studies suggest that today, less than 10% of patients are likely to suffer treatment-limiting reactions when undergoing antiretroviral therapy.
Although antiretroviral drugs help clinicians treat HIV, the presence of other diseases in the patient (e.g. hepatitis, alcoholism) and concurrent drug treatments, increase the likelihood of adverse reactions to ARV drugs.
The Blood-brain Barrier
A significant disadvantage of ARV drugs is their inability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This is an area where the CBD (cannabidiol) cannabis compound offers a clear advantage over traditional treatment.
Research from Harvard University shows that around 40% of HIV infections result in some type of brain impairment. One such impairment is known as HIV-associated cognitive impairment (HAND), with mild neurocognitive disorder (MND) as the most common form. This affects behavior, decision-making, learning, and memory function. Some loss of coordination is also possible.
Whereas ARV medication is ineffective in protecting the brain, cannabis compounds possess this ability. CBD is one of two main cannabinoids, the other being THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). These cannabinoids suppress leukocyte responses and prevent brain inflammation.
The implications of this are huge, with potential also in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and multiple other diseases.
Fighting Heart Disease
Premature heart disease in HIV patients is often linked with chronic inflammation and related aging effects. This occurs even with conventional ARV treatment. With the taking of CBD, HIV may be alleviated in this respect, too.
Besides its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has plenty of other medical benefits:
In addition, there are ongoing studies to examine CBD treatment of cancer, since it has been shown to kill certain types of cancer cells. Thus, the benefits of cannabidiol are wide-ranging, with the ability to treat many symptoms across countless diseases.
Cannabinoids: The Difference Between CBD and THC
Cannabis is well-known to be effective in treating numerous diseases, so why isn’t it more widely used? Legal reasons are an obvious factor. THC cannabinoids produce the mind-altering psychoactive effect that recreational users seek and which limit its legal use in medicine.
Of course, most patients are not looking for a high from marijuana; they only seek relief from their symptoms. CBD offers this purely medicinal service. Luckily, its use is legal across most US states for the treatment of certain medical conditions, but the issue remains contentious.
Switzerland has one of the more sensible approaches to cannabidiol, allowing it to be purchased freely and legally provided there is a maximum 1% THC content in the product.
CBD hemp oil is widely sold for its medicinal value. It’s defined as hemp rather than marijuana if it contains a maximum 0.3% (dry weight) of THC. Hence, pure CBD oils can be bought without any legal risk to the consumer.
Because of legal and social constraints, which only very recently are being lifted, the potential of cannabidiol is not yet fully known.
In 2017, the University of Florida received funding in the form of a $3.2 million NIDA grant to explore the benefits of marijuana to HIV sufferers. The 5-year study will follow 400 Floridians with HIV and observe the effects of cannabis on their condition. A special area of interest is reduction of inflammation to the brain.
Overall, the future seems bright.
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