Medical marijuana could be beneficial in helping HIV patients maintain their mental stamina, according to a new study.
Researchers at Michigan State University recently published a paper in the journal AIDS, which points to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, being a magical remedy when it comes to slowing the mental decline of HIV patients.
The study, which was released earlier this week, provides some evidence that details how the cannabis plant could be used to reduce this deterioration from the incurable virus by around 50 percent. It’s a factor that could give those inflicted with the disease a more coherent life.
“It’s believed that cognitive function decreases in many of those with HIV partly due to chronic inflammation that occurs in the brain,” said co-study author Norbert Kaminski. “This happens because the immune system is constantly being stimulated to fight off disease.”
The study reveals that cannabis acts as an anti-inflammatory in the brain of HIV patients, which prevents white blood cells and their proteins from running amok inside the body. When THC is introduced to the equation, it has an affect on these cells that could “slow down, or maybe even stop, the inflammatory process,” researchers say.
It is this process that could allow patients suffering from HIV to maintain a healthier cognitive function for longer.
To come to this conclusion, researchers studied the blood of 40 HIV patients, some of whom used marijuana and some who did not. What they found while isolating the white blood cells of each respondent was that the patients who did not use cannabis displayed a much higher rate of inflammation.
“The patients who didn’t smoke marijuana had a very high level of inflammatory cells compared to those who did use,” Kaminski said. “In fact, those who used marijuana had levels pretty close to a healthy person not infected with HIV.”
Although antiretroviral therapy is relatively successful in this day and age, it does not always prevent certain white blood cells from causing patients problems with inflammation.
However, if the results of this study hold true, cannabis medicine could prove effective in controlling this aspect of the disease. It is also possible that weed could be used to help patients with “other brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s since the same inflammatory cells have been found to be involved,” said co-author Mike Rizzo.
The latest study is now part of a growing body of evidence showing that cannabis might lend therapeutic benefits to HIV patients. Researchers plan to continue investigating the plant’s impact on these cells to find out more about how the compounds found in marijuana can help.