While the cannabinoids in marijuana have long been used to help patients cope with symptoms of HIV like loss of appetite and chronic pain, new research is mounting that suggests the plant can actually help prevent the disease from spreading.
For 17 months scientists at Louisiana State University dosed THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, to monkeys infected with an animal version of the virus. They paid close attention to the monkeys’ stomach cells — a major area of the body for the disease to spread. What they found was damage to the stomach’s immune cells decreasing over the course of the THC treatment. The monkeys receiving treatment also maintained higher levels of overall immune cells.
“These findings reveal novel mechanisms that may potentially contribute to cannabinoid-mediated disease modulation,” Dr. Patricia Molina, the study’s lead author, wrote.