Researchers have known for decades that marijuana can provide an enormous benefit to patients suffering from HIV/AIDS because of its ability to stimulate the appetite and prevent weight loss. However, a new study finds that this magical herb may do more than just give patients the munchies, but it may actually tackle the disease at its core.
An analysis published last week in the journal AIDS Researcher and Human Retroviruses by a team of researchers at Louisiana State University indicates that a daily regimen of THC may have a significant impact on the progression of HIV.
Researchers say that after delivering a daily dose of THC to monkeys for a period of 17-months, the diseased primates displayed a decrease in damaged immune tissue in the stomach — a common spot for the infection to occur.
“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 lead researcher Dr. Patricia Molina, head of the school’s Department of Physiology.
These findings are consistent with a 2011 study led by Dr. Molina that points toward monkeys being treated with THC experiencing an overall reduction in infection, as well as improved chances for survival.
At the time, these were unexpected results, clarifies Dr. Molina.
“When we started the study, we thought it was going to increase viral load, we thought it was going to decrease lymphocyte counts much more dramatically, and we did not see that. If anything, it looks like there might be some beneficial immunomodulation, particularly at the early stages of infection.”