If you’re one of the nearly 38,000 people who has been diagnosed with HIV within a year, we know that you’re dealing with a lot of emotions and questions.
You might wonder how living with HIV will impact your physical health, your mental state, and your overall quality of life. You might also have concerns about the judgments you’ll face from others if you decide to disclose your status.
You likely also have questions about the different treatment options available to you.
In addition to the standard medication and treatment plan developed by your doctor, medical marijuana and CBD oil will help you to manage the symptoms of HIV.
But how does it work, and what do you need to know about cannabis and HIV?
Read on to find out.
One of the most important questions people living with HIV have about cannabis use?
Whether or not it will impact their viral loads.
Especially if you’re taking protease inhibitors, you may have concerns about whether or not cannabis will interfere with your medications and cause your viral loads to rise.
Because protease inhibitors and cannabinoids are processed in the same part of your liver, it’s a fair question.
However, the good news is that cannabinoids have no negative effects on an HIV-positive person’s viral load.
Cannabis was also found to stimulate the appetites of HIV-positive individuals. Let’s take a look at what else it can help with below.
If you’re living with HIV, we know that you deal with a variety of symptoms, sometimes on a daily basis. These symptoms can be both physical and emotional, and the intensity with which you feel them can vary from mild to extreme.
In short, when you’re living with HIV, the way you experience every day can be different.
Here’s how marijuana can help.
From aches and pains to nausea to severe headaches and migraines, people living with HIV are often in desperate need of adequate pain management.
However, they may also be unable to take pharmaceutical drugs, either because of a personal preference or because it interferes with their other medication.
Luckily, marijuana can help.
Your body produces natural chemicals, called endocannabinoids, that help manage your body’s response to pain and other stimuli.
However, as you might have guessed, those living with HIV often produce fewer natural endocannabinoids than those without it. Plus, the pain that HIV-positive people experience may be far more extreme than what’s experienced by those without it.
The CBD in marijuana and CBD oil helps to strengthen your body’s natural endocannabinoid system, so that you’ll experience less intense pain infrequently.
Some studies have found that as many as 73% of people living with HIV also suffer from insomnia.
This can come from either physical or mental stress, or even as a combination of both.
If you have trouble sleeping, look for Indica strains, which will give you a nice body high and help you to physically relax more quickly than an energizing Sativa strain will.
It’s important to note that cannabis can sometimes impact your body’s ability to enter into a REM cycle. This is completely normal and often ends up improving your overall quality of sleep.
Be aware, however, that this sometimes means you won’t have as many vivid dreams as you did in the past.
Between 20-40% of people living with HIV also deal with moderate to severe feelings of depression and anxiety.
Of course, especially when taking into consideration the social stigma surrounding HIV, it’s not hard to see why.
Luckily, marijuana can help.
First of all, the THC in marijuana contains psychoactive properties that can help to stop racing thoughts and decrease your level of anxiety. Depending on the specific type of strain you use (more on that in a minute) these anti-anxiety effects can last all day or just for a few hours.
Additionally, marijuana stimulates your body’s natural production of Serotonin, which is responsible for boosting your overall mood and providing you with a kind of safe, natural high.
The more Serotonin your body produces, the happier you’ll feel.
Because HIV weakens your T cells and overall immune system, over time you may find that you begin to lose some of your cognitive abilities.
This can include things like your memory, your attention span, your ability to reason, and your overall communication skills.
This loss can be incredibly harrowing to those living with HIV.
Marijuana helps by regulating the number of white blood cells in your body — white blood cells which sometimes carry infections and attack healthy cells in your system.
This means that you’ll enjoy stable cognitive function for longer periods of time. With certain strains, you’ll also get a wonderful burst of creative energy, which helps to boost both your mood and your overall cognitive abilities.
Now that you have a better understanding of the many ways in which cannabis can benefit those living with HIV, what’s next?
It’s time to take a look at some of the most effective strains when it comes to pain management, mood enhancement, assistance with sleeping, and much more.
First up on our list of the top strains for HIV-positive individuals?
The Indica strain MK Ultra, with a THC content of about 22% and a CBD content of 0.01%.
Especially if you’re dealing with the more emotional side effects of being HIV positive, particularly if you’ve recently been diagnosed, then the cerebral high offered by this strain will be helpful to you.
It also helps with pain management, so if you’re dealing with more minor aches, pains, and headaches, rely on this strain. Be aware, however, that it does cause dizziness in some patients.
So, if you’re newer to medical marijuana, you may want to start with a different strain.
Looking for a Hybrid strain that contains both Indica and Sativa?
If so, look no further than the classic SkyWalker OG, which has about 18-30% of a THC content, and a CBD content of roughly 0.10%. It also contains a variety of terpenes, including Pinene, Mycrene, and Humulene.
This is one of the more popular strains on the market, so if you’ve experimented with marijuana recreationally in the past, this may be a bit familiar to you.
If you’re in severe pain and struggling to keep down food — or work up any kind of an appetite at all — you’ll love what this strain is able to do for you.
You’ll find that your appetite is stimulated almost immediately, so be sure to have plenty of your favorite snacks on hand. Since it gives you an extreme body high, it’s best to use this strain either before bedtime or when you have a clear schedule for the rest of the day.
If you like something with somewhat of a spicy flavor, we’re confident you’ll enjoy SkyWalker OG.
This is another Indica strain that has a THC content of about 17-20%, and a CBD content of up to 13.21% — meaning that you can expect some serious highs with this option.
Especially if you’re more interested in physical relaxation (for example, if struggling to fall asleep is something you deal with) then you’ll love this strain.
You’ll also recognize this strain for its somewhat citrusy flavors.
In addition to giving you a pretty unforgettable body high, you’ll also experience some mood-boosting effects. So, if you’re dealing with lots of anxiety, we think you should rely on this strain to help to get you through it.
It’s also effective in combatting nausea.
We hope that this post has helped to educate people living with HIV and their loved ones about the many benefits of cannabis as a supplemental treatment and pain management tool.
Remember, if you’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV, you are not alone.
We also invite you to spend some time on our website to access numerous scientific studies that outline even more of the benefits of cannabis for those who have been diagnosed with HIV.