A study released by researchers at Michigan State University last week shows that marijuana can help patients maintain mental stamina. Previous research on HIV patients shows that they are likely to suffer from accelerated aging due to cognitive decline, even when there is full viral suppression.
Cognitive Decline is Common in Patients with HIV
A 2009 study showed that more than half of people living with HIV experience some kind of cognitive impairment. Researchers from Michigan State University recently published a paper in the journal AIDS publicizing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) as a powerful therapy to help slow mental decline in AIDS patients.
According to the study’s co-author, Norbert Kaminski, “It’s believed that the cognitive function decreases in many of those with HIV partly due to the chronic inflammation that occurs in the brain. This happens because the immune system is constantly being stimulated to fight off disease.”
Research Shows Cannabis Acts as Anti-Inflammatory in the Brain of HIV Patients
Marijuana has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory in several studies in the past. It is used by countless patients for this exact purpose. In HIV patients, medical cannabis acts as an anti-inflammatory in the brain, preventing white blood cells and their proteins from spreading throughout the body. THC shows to “slow down or maybe even stop” the inflammatory process according to researchers of the study.
For the study, researchers studied the blood of 40 different HIV patients. Some of the patients used medical cannabis, and some did not. The patients who did not use cannabis showed a “very high level of inflammatory cells compared to those who did not use,” said Kaminski. “In fact,” he continued, “those who used marijuana had [white blood cell] levels pretty close to a healthy person who did not have HIV.”
Further Research Could Show Marijuana Helps Cognitive Decline in Other Conditions Aside from HIV
If the results of the study are indeed true, it could be lifechanging to HIV patients who succumb to mental decline. In other studies, medical marijuana has shown to be effective for cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients, and is also used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease. This study could be the catalyst that helps patients with conditions that stimulate inflammation of the brain to get the help they need.
Results of the study offer hope to countless individuals who suffer from the often-terrible effects of HIV/AIDS. Researchers of the recent study plan on continuing to explore the benefits of medical cannabis in anticipation of examining exactly how it can help.
“We’ll continue investigating these cells and how they interact and cause inflammation specifically in the brain,” said co-author Mike Rizzo, “What we learn from this could also have implications to other brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s since the same inflammatory cells have been found to be involved.”