Cannabis has long been held responsible of causing long-term or possibly permanent adverse changes in the brain. However, a new study by the Michigan State University is determined to prove otherwise.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, may help slow mental decline in those suffering from HIV. According to the lead author, Norbert E. Kaminski, director of MSU’s Institute for Integrative Toxicology, chronic inflammation in the brain causes a decline in cognitive function in those infected with HIV. Cannabis can effectively reduce the number of inflammatory white blood cells (WBC) slowing down or perhaps stopping their process, and decrease the proteins they release in the body. This can help patients maintain their cognitive functions for longer periods of time. Simply put, the compounds in marijuana act as anti-inflammatory agents. The study has been published in the journal AIDS.
Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico and District of Columbia, and is known to treat severe and life-threatening illness including HIV/AIDS, severe or chronic pain arising from cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others. The drug has received criticism for its ill health effects including breathing problems, damage to learning and cognitive thinking, altered sensory perception, and time and space distortions. It remains as an illegal drug in the books of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Marijuana compounds can help HIV patients maintain their mental function
For the research, Kaminski and his co-author Mike Rizzo took blood samples from 40 HIV patients (marijuana and non-marijuana users), isolated their WBCs, studied the inflammatory cell levels and the effect marijuana had on them. They found that HIV patients who did not smoke marijuana had very high inflammatory cell levels compared to those who used pot. “In fact, those who used marijuana had levels pretty close to a healthy person not infected with HIV,” said Kaminski.
He added that “It might not be people smoking marijuana. It might be people taking a pill that has some of the key compounds found in the marijuana plant that could help.” The researchers are hopeful that in addition to helping HIV patients maintain their mental function, the study results could also have positive implications on other brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s since they involve the same inflammatory cells. They intend to continue their investigations in how the cells function, interact and cause inflammation in the brain.
While the study findings are quite exciting and might help those with brain-related diseases, it has some limitations. It did not isolate the frequency of pot use and potency used by the patients, and did not take into account the levels of advancement of the HIV disease in the patients.
Reach out for addiction treatment
Marijuana is a strong addictive substance that can cause addiction. Even a small amount taken at regular intervals can create drug tolerance leaving the user craving for more. It is advisable to look for alternate treatment modalities to treat a chronic disease and abstain from using any drug for a long time.
Dealing with substance abuse is not easy and trying to recover from it may seem challenging. At the Texas Substance Abuse Helpline, we can help you or your loved one get over your fears by helping you learn more about the disease, recognize its symptoms and find a suitable treatment program basis your needs. For those looking for top-notch treatment options at the finest substance abuse treatment centers in Texas, get in touch with our representatives at the 24/7 helpline (866) 971-2658 or chat online with an advisor.