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MSU researchers discover how cannabis can be used to sustain mental stamina in HIV patients

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Patients with HIV could benefit from a specific chemical found in cannabis – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is according to researchers at Michigan State University, who published their findings in the Journal AIDS.

According to the researchers, mental decline (a common symptom associated with HIV) can be slowed down by as much as 50 percent when THC is administered to patients.

Using THC to improve cognitive functions in HIV patients

Individuals who become infected by the Human immunodeficiency virus, better known as HIV, will experience a rapid and progressive decline in cognitive functions. This occurs as a result of chronic inflammation inside the brain, which is a direct effect of the immune system going into overdrive in an attempt to fight off the disease.

Interestingly, the active compounds that occur naturally in cannabis have the potential to work as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Norbert Kaminski

Norbert Kaminski, director of MSU’s Institute for Integrative Toxicology, carried out the study along with the help of a graduate student named Mike Rizzo.

Since 1990, Kaminski has been investigating the effects of cannabis on the immune system.

One of his most incredible findings uncovered the proteins that bind cannabis compounds on the uppermost layer of immune cells. Prior to this, scientists struggled to detect the proteins.

The researchers at Michigan State University took blood samples from 40 HIV patients who declared whether or not they use cannabis.

Patients who had THC in their bloodstream experienced a reduction in monocytes. These are inflammatory white blood cells that release proteins into the human body.

When cannabis is used as a treatment for HIV, the number of proteins released into the body reduces significantly. What this means is that HIV patients could maintain cognitive functions for much longer.

Depending on the level of protein reduction, the inflammatory process could be put to a halt completely and patients may even be able to sustain mental stamina.

HIV patients who used cannabis had healthy inflammatory cell levels

The researchers at MSU took blood samples from 40 HIV patients who declared whether or not they use cannabis. From each sample, the team isolated white blood cells and assessed how cannabis impacts the inflammatory cell levels. who did not consume cannabis were seen to have significantly higher levels of inflammatory cells, as opposed to the HIV patients who used cannabis. The cannabis consumers had lower levels of inflammatory cells.

Those who did use cannabis in some way or another, whether it was by ingesting or inhaling it, had healthy inflammatory levels.

In fact, the levels were on par with the levels of a person who had not been infected with HIV.

Replacing drug treatments with natural cannabis medication

Not only is HIV known to kill immune cells but also, the infection is responsible for altering the functions of important immune cells responsible for protecting the body.

The typical treatment option for HIV patients is a concoction of drugs to keep the virus at bay. Although this type of antiretroviral therapy can increase the chances of cells staying unspoiled, inflammation may still occur as a result of the white blood cells facing overstimulation.

Cannabis is a safe treatment option that does not limit the patient to smoking.

“It might not be people smoking marijuana,” said Kaminski. “It might be people taking a pill that has some of the key compounds found in the marijuana plant that could help.”

MSU’s intelligent team of researchers will push forward with further investigations to determine exactly how the cells cause inflammation in the brain.

Aside from the fact that these investigations into HIV patients who used cannabis may actually help infected patients, the findings from subsequent studies may also shape the future for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients.

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MSU researchers discover how cannabis can be used to sustain mental stamina in HIV patients