Qualified Debilitating Medical Conditions
Human immunodeficiency virus can lead to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, better known as AIDS. HIV destroys specific blood cells in the body that are required to help the body fight off illnesses. AIDS is a late form of HIV when a person’s immune system is extremely damaged and no longer able to fight off disease and cancers.
The primary treatment for HIV/AIDS is high active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a mixture of medications that slow the disease’s progression. Pharmaceuticals may also be prescribed to manage opportunistic infections, AIDS-related symptoms, and the side effects of other prescription drugs.
A commonly used drug is Dronabinol (Marinol) a synthetic form of THC. Dronabinol only accounts for the cannabinoid THC rather than simulating the other beneficial cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, etc. The synthetic THC reportedly makes some patients feel uncomfortable and too “stoned” so it is not desirable for all patients. About one third of HIV/AIDS patients experience severe pain as a result of the antiretroviral therapy, and other common responses to AIDS medication include nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and weight loss.
Medical Cannabis and HIV/AIDS
Cannabis is beneficial in the treatment of symptoms related to HIV in many ways. Typically, neuropathy and pain are side effects of HIV/AIDS and its traditional forms of treatment. Heavy indicas are great for treating nerve pain and the insomnia generally associated with it. Patients troubled by fatigue and depression benefit greatly from the uplifting effects of Sativa dominant strains. Additionally, cannabis has shown to be successful in eliminating nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss.
Marinol is often prescribed to HIV/AIDS patients to increase appetite. Although it is successful in doing so it can also produce psychoactive effects that are not desired by patients. Inhaled cannabis provides patients with very flexible dosing control over the psychoactive effects of THC; generally 2 or 3 puffs is all it takes for symptoms to begin to diminish without creating the overwhelming feeling of being “stoned.” Patients can also benefit from using a strain high in CBD as it can actually reduce the psychoactive feelings produced by THC. Patients who dislike inhalation may benefit from medicating with edibles or tinctures.