MMJ STUDY Marijuana may fight HIV

Published in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, researchers at Louisiana State University showed that daily doses of THC, marijuana’s main ingredient, have a number of beneficial effects in animal models of HIV. 

In particular, THC given to monkeys over a 17-month period decreased damage to immune tissue of the gut, an important site of HIV infection. The team also found evidence that THC could do this by acting at the gene level.

“It adds to the picture and it builds a little bit more information around the potential mechanisms that might be playing a role in the modulation of the infection,” says Dr. Patricia Molina, head of the school’s Department of Physiology and lead author of the study.

HIV spreads by infecting and ultimately killing immune cells. However, the researchers observed higher levels of healthy immune cells in animals that received THC – something they noticed in a previous study as well. 

In 2011, Dr. Molina and her colleagues found that monkeys treated with THC had lower levels of viral infection and better survival rates. They also experienced a spike in immune cells and less weight loss from the disease. 

Many have been skeptical of the use of marijuana in HIV/AIDS patients, since marijuana compounds are known to inhibit activity of the immune system. 

Now, researchers are trying to understand why marijuana might help, and develop new treatments that are more specific to its mechanisms.

Read More: Leaf Science

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