Medical Marijuana is very popular among patients with AIDS, with one of the main reasons being that it is able to soothe a variety of the disease symptoms. It can soothe pain, stimulate appetite, and calm nausea. paradise
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a disease that attacks the immune system. The disease can lead to painful nerve damage, depression, anxiety, opportunistic infections, nausea, vomiting, and significant weight loss.
Recent combination medical therapy has advanced to the point where AIDS patients live longer and the disease is more of a chronic disorder than a rapidly fatal one. This is part of the wonders of modern medicine, although the real wonder will be when the disease is simply eradicated! These medications have two effects: One is that they give patients hope, the second is they make patients sick. Nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, and appetite loss turn into a way of life that simply has to be tolerated. Or does it?
Antiviral medications, called protease inhibitors, are effective at controlling the progression of HIV. They also produce nausea and vomiting that is very similar to that experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Nausea and appetite can lead to cachexia in AIDS patients, which is termed wasting and leads to loss of lean body mass. In 1986 the FDA approved Marinol for weight loss from AIDS along with treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy. For individuals with HIV, losing as little as 5% of their lean body mass can be life threatening.
AIDS wasting syndrome is defined by the CDC as involuntary loss of over ten percent of body weight, along with fever or diarrhea persisting for over 30 days. Having cachexia, which as mentioned is loss of lean body mass, does not just represent loss of muscle. Patients can lose liver tissue along with tissue from other heavily used and needed organs.
Traditional treatments for wasting include the medications Megace and Marinol (prescribed less often). People on Megace typically are able to increase food intake by 30%, but tend to gain fat over lean tissue mass. THC in the form of Marinol has been shown to increase appetite and maintain weight with slight side effects of dry mouth and slight psychological distress. It is difficult for patients to fine-tune the pill form dosage and also the THC orally is slow to act and slow to clear from one’s body.