HIV / AIDS, or human immunodeficiency virus, is the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and is transmitted during sexual intercourse; by sharing syringes; or during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. First reported in 1981, HIV/AIDS is one of humanity’s deadliest epidemics. HIV attacks the immune system by destroying CD4+ T cells, a type of white blood cell that is vital to fighting off infection. The destruction of these cells can leave people with untreated HIV vulnerable to life-threatening infections and complications.
Today, effective anti-HIV medications allow people with HIV to lead long, healthy lives. When taken as prescribed, these daily medications, called antiretroviral therapy (ART), can suppress the amount of virus in the blood to a level so low that it is undetectable by standard tests.
How Cannabis Can Help
THC activates CB2 which is an anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressant. CBD is also immunosuppressant, reducing cytokine production3 and inhibiting T-cell function. But cannabinoids have an adaptive, immunomodulating effect, rather than just suppressing immune activity. Monkeys given THC prior to being infected with HIV showed reduced viral load, less intestinal damage from the disease, and longer life spans. Cannabinoids stimulate appetite and help AIDS patients gain weight. They also reduce anxiety, fear, depression, and help with sleep and maintaining humor.
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- National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease, HIV/AIDS
- Project CBD, Cannabis & The Immune System: A Complex Balancing Act