Marijuana has long been used to effectively treat symptoms associated with HIV, such as chronic pain and weight loss. But a growing body of research suggests the plant may be able to stop the spread of the virus itself.
A Louisiana State University study published in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruse narrates how for 17 months, scientists administered a daily dose of THC, an active ingredient in cannabis, to monkeys infected with an animal form of the virus. Over the course of that period, they found that damage to immune tissue in the primates’ stomachs, one of the most common areas in the body for HIV infection to spread, decreased.
“These findings reveal novel mechanisms that may potentially contribute to cannabinoid-mediated disease modulation,” said Dr. Patricia Molina, leader of the study. The report goes on to explain that while HIV spreads by infecting and killing off immune cells, the monkeys that received the daily THC treatments maintained higher levels of healthy cells. Similar study in 2011 found that infected monkeys treated with THC had a better chance of surviving.