Study Finds Marijuana May Stop Progression Of HIV
Interesting findings: could marijuana help prevent the progression of HIV in those fighting the disease? According to a study led Dr. Patricia Molina and her fellow researchers at Louisiana State University, that may be the case.
Published last week 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.
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.
So far Dr. Molina is attributing THC's positive effect on healthy cells to its action on CB2 receptors. The THC in marijuana binds to two receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 causes the high that marijuana users feel, while CB2 can impact the immune system.
“There’s quite a bit of interest in trying to understand whether what we see as a immunomodulatory effect is mediated exclusively by the CB2 receptor,” Dr. Molina continues. “And if so, could that potentially lead to the development of agonists specific to the receptor that could have the same beneficial effects.”
What do you think of these findings, which may prove that marijuana provides benefits beyond alleviating pain and treating weight loss in those living with HIV?