Is Cannabis the Secret to the Cure for HIV?

The current treatment for HIV, antiretrovirals, suppress the virus, but they only go so far. HIV copies burrow into every reservoir within the body including bone marrow. ARV’s have no effect on HIV copies living inside the brain, leaving patients with HIV-associated cognitive impairment (HAND). The current cocktail includes Efavirenz — a powerfully hallucinogenic drug found in HIV’s most popular pill, Atripla. Isn’t it time for a better solution?

Colorado-based Cannabis Science recently announced its expansion into California. Cannabis Science is teaming up with IGXBio Inc. to combine agonist cannabinoids with advanced DNA immunotherapy. The partnership will focus on creating cannabinoid-based drugs that battle areas where ARV’s fall short.

HIV whittles down the immune system, and ARV’s slow the process dramatically, but cause a panacea of side effects including bone loss, chronic diarrhea and the loss of cognitive function. Martin Shkreli, the personification of pharmaceutical greed, illuminated us all on the cruel and insane pricing for HIV drugs. HIV drugs sell for hundred times more than their actual cost to produce and patients really don’t have a choice.

Cannabis Science’s drugs contain cannabinoids that battle HIV-related Kaposi Sarcoma as well as drug-resistant strains of HIV. Current, normally-effective treatment is useless against drug-resistant HIV. HIV drugs work like antibiotics — if you begin and abandon treatment too early, they becomes usesless. Drug-resistance travels from person-to-person and contracting drug-resistant HIV is a pretty grim sentence. Studies have suggested that the drugs shrink and clear up skin lesions and restore cognitive function.

IGXBio developed an FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) called GenePro, the brand name for its flagship product, Δ4SHIVKU2. GenePro is DNA-based vaccine containing pieces of both simian (ape) immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). GenePro releases proteins through electroporation, which block the replication of HIV. By adding cannabinoids to the mix, Cannabis Science believes they have the key to a breakthrough treatment for HIV.

“To further cement our foothold in the substantial pharmaceutical drug development industry, we expect our IGXBio, GenePro drug development program to be a major pharmaceutical success,” stated Dr. Allen Herman, Cannabis Science’s chief medical officer. “Program specific details are underway and we will update progress and results as they come in.”

Cannabis Science is developing at least three cannabinoid-based drugs, CS-S/BCC-1, CS-TATI-1, and CS-NEURO-1, aimed at battling HAND and other severe side effects. They believe the treatment will help breach the blood-brain barrier and allow the drugs to work inside the brain.

HIV patients desperately need a new treatment plan. Taking ARV’s like Efavirenz can border on unbearable. Efavirenz causes “abnormal dreaming,” by most patients say it causes full-blown hallucinations. The U.S. National Library of Medicine admits that Efavirenz has LSD-like properties. “Anecdotal reports have surfaced concerning misuse of the HIV antiretroviral medication efavirenz by HIV patients and non-infected teens who crush the pills and smoke the powder for its psychoactive effects,” wrote researchers.

If pharmacists can hand out Efavirenz like M&M’s to HIV patients, shouldn’t they be allowed to prescribe medical cannabis?

There is study after study indicating the vast potential that cannabis has for treating HIV. Cannabis reportedly helps with HIV-related neuropathic pain, inflammation and the spread of the virus itself. Research programs use apes like macaques to study HIV. “Our studies have demonstrated that chronic Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) administration results in a generalized attenuation of viral load and tissue inflammation in simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected male rhesus macaques,” wrote researchers.

Even with all the growing evidence to support cannabis’ effectiveness against HIV, some states have dropped the ball. Georgia, who has some of the worst HIV rates in the nation, dropped HIV from its list of qualifying illnesses.

Since the beginning, medical cannabis has been used as a treatment for patients with HIV and we’re just beginning to discover the tip of the iceberg. Cannabinoid-based therapies could help lead the way.

Do you think cannabis might help to cure HIV? Tell us why.

Benjamin M. Adams is a contributor for Cannabis Now Magazine, MerryJane.com, Cannabusiness.com and DirectCannabisNetwork.com. His work has been seen in Culture Magazine, Treating Yourself Magazine, SKUNK Magazine, and several other cannabis-related publications. He studied Art at the University of Utah and has traveled around the world from the open hash markets in Copenhagen to Jamaica. He's focused on the efficacy of medical marijuana for HIV and other serious illnesses. Ben lives in Southern California. You can follow him on Twitter @benbot11.

5 Comments

  1. Cristina Pereira

    April 21, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I am Cristina Pereira,I contracted HIV in 2009 I was told by my doctor that there’s no possible cure for HIV. I started taking my ARV’s, My CD4 is 77. I saw a website of Dr Boadi also i saw a lot of testimonials about him on how he uses herbal medicine to cure HIV. i contacted him and told him my problems, he sent me the herbal medicine and i took it for 7 days after then i went for a check up and i was Negative. the medicine has no side effect, there’s no special diet when taking the medicine.

    • Shawn

      April 24, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Hey can I ask what this herbal formula is and where can I get it?

  2. James Peters

    April 10, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    We are a long way from a sterilizing cure which would mean that the virus is completely eliminated from the body, including the elimination of all the cells that contained dormant HIV DNA in their genome, the so called viral reservoir. Over the next few years a number of companies like Sangamo Biosciences, Calimmune, Aelix Therapeutics, Argos Therapeutics, Immunovative Therapies and others could bring new therapies (vaccines and gene/cell based therapies) onto the market that could cause a functional cure which means a person is off all medications and maintains a normal immune system while the virus is measurably present. It could even rendered it so weak that it is no longer virulent and is unable to infect other cells in the body or cause infection in other people. Also newer drugs like Temsavir/Fostemsavir are on there way too.

  3. urgh

    March 30, 2016 at 6:32 am

    is this supposed to be ironic or something?

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