Before anything else, I'd like to start this by saying that marijuana doesn’t solve everything. However, scientifically speaking, data suggest that it can be of help to some people--from relieving stress to helping people with cancer.
And now, to add up to that, a new study led by Michigan State University (MSU) shows that it may help HIV patients retain their mental stamina for longer periods of time.
“It’s believed that cognitive function decreases in many of those with HIV partly due to chronic inflammation that occurs in the brain,” lead author Norbert Kaminski, the Director of MSU’s Institute for Integrative Toxicology, explained in a statement.
“This happens because the immune system is constantly being stimulated to fight off disease.” 50 percent of HIV patients actually undergo this decline. So, to know if medical marijuana could help with this, they took blood samples of 40 HIV-positive patients--some use marijuana, some don't.
They specifically looked into these patients' monocytes--white blood cells originated in bone marrow before passing to the bloodstream. Two different types of cell develop from this: "those that mark foreign bodies that need to be destroyed, or those that actually do the destroying."
Now, when there's infection, what's called CD16+ monocytes will release some kind of proteins for defense but this can cause inflammation. While often useful, when prolonged, the inflammation can cause some damage. And since HIV virus is still undestroyable, the inflammation never stops.
But guess what? Those HIV patients who use marijuana actually had a far lower level of inflammatory cells! This suggests that the substance has anti-inflammatory properties.
“In fact, those who used marijuana had levels pretty close to a healthy person not infected with HIV,” Kaminski added.
Less inflammation in the brain means a greater possibility of maintaining normal brain functions. While more research is still needed to be done, this new finding is interesting specially that HIV patients are continuing to rise in numbers.
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!