Florida’s HIV/AIDS Patients Finding Relief with Medical Marijuana
Florida’s medical marijuana program is proving to be a godsend for many of the state’s HIV/AIDS patients. In this post, we’ll discuss how medical marijuana helps to relieve the symptoms of the disease as well as the side effects of prescription medications that are keeping HIV patients alive. We’ll also go over how to get a medical marijuana card in Florida for HIV/AIDS.
In 2018, there were over 110,000 people living in Florida that were positive for HIV. Fortunately, the number of new infections has been falling in recent years. However, for those Floridians who are infected with HIV, and especially those who have contracted AIDS, medical marijuana is proving to be a godsend.
Not surprisingly, medical marijuana has been successfully employed for decades to treat the side effects of HIV-suppressing drugs and the symptoms of AIDS. And according to recent polls, medical marijuana is still gaining momentum in the U.S. as a safe and effective remedy.
A large-scale survey would be required to fully ascertain the exact number of HIV patients using cannabis. However, all three of the California cannabis buyers’ clubs claim that more than 60 percent of their members are HIV patients seeking relief from their condition.
Excruciating nerve damage and deadly wasting syndrome are two of the more devastating symptoms associated with AIDS. The virus drastically compromises the immune system, affecting the entire body, enabling cancers and myriad infections to gain a foothold. Moreover, these relentless, painful physical ailments inevitably lead to chronic depression and anxiety.
Countless HIV patients swear by medical marijuana and its ability to reduce or alleviate these symptoms altogether. When using medical marijuana many HIV patients report improved appetite, cessation of pain, less nausea, and mood elevation. These claims have been thoroughly documented in the publication titled “Marijuana as Medicine? The Science Beyond the Controversy.”
Let’s take a look at how medical marijuana helps to relieve the most common drug side effects and symptoms associated with HIV and AIDS.
Medical Marijuana for AIDS-related Pain
Many Florida HIV/AIDS patients regularly use medical marijuana for ongoing pain management. Neuropathic pain is the most common pain condition suffered by HIV patients. Nerve damage caused by the disease can trigger a burning sensation or pain from even the slightest touch.
Although there is a severe lack of clinical studies, anecdotal evidence abounds in support of the claim that medical marijuana helps reduce neuropathic pain. However, with the few studies that have been done, researchers have discovered cannabis to be a highly effective treatment for relieving neuropathic pain. These findings suggest that medical marijuana could also be successfully employed to treat neuropathy and pain stemming from HIV.
Medical Marijuana for Nausea and Vomiting
The use of combination HIV therapy (treating patients with a cocktail of drugs) has successfully removed the terminal status for most HIV patients, transforming it into a survivable chronic condition. These medications ensure that most HIV patients can now live somewhat normal lifestyles. However, many of these drugs come with extremely unpleasant side effects.
Life-sustaining medications such as Crixivan, drT, AZT, Viracept, Bactrim, Viramune, and Megace are the only viable options for most HIV patients. However, they often trigger bouts of diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, and appetite loss. Medical marijuana is widely known to successfully attenuate all of these pervasive issues for some patients.
Findings published in a report titled “The role of cannabinoids in the regulation of nausea and vomiting, and visceral pain,” explain how the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors regulate nausea, vomiting, and food intake. Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the brain and gastrointestinal tract and are stimulated by chemical compounds produced by our bodies called endocannabinoids.
Two endocannabinoids that are highly engaged in this process are anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol, also known as 2-AG. Suppression of these particular endocannabinoids greatly increases the incidence of vomiting and nausea, while enhancement of the same compounds is shown to mitigate these symptoms.
A report from the University of Guelph, Ontario, concluded that: “Considerable evidence demonstrates that manipulation of the endocannabinoid system regulates nausea and vomiting in humans and other animals.”
There is a need for more clinical studies in this area to substantiate marijuana’s overall efficacy in alleviating nausea and vomiting. That being said, some patients are finding significant relief with a prescription cannabinoid called Marinol (synthetic THC). Participants administered Marinol in a month-long clinical study reported cessation of nausea and improved appetite, as opposed to others who received a placebo and saw no improvement.
Medical Marijuana for AIDS Wasting Syndrome
Wasting Syndrome is defined by the CDCP as a sudden, involuntary loss of ten percent or more of body weight. This dramatic weight loss is often accompanied by chronic diarrhea.
This extreme weight loss due to nausea and diarrhea can be a life-threatening issue for many AIDS patients. If a patient loses even five percent of their body weight, the consequences can be deadly.
Wasting syndrome manifests in HIV patients via two physiological processes known as cachexia and starvation. Cachexia (pronounced “kahKEKseeuh”) results in a huge loss of muscle or liver mass and tissue injury.
Starvation can be resolved by upping calorie intake. Cachexia requires the disease to be properly regulated and controlled, by stimulating the patient’s metabolism.
Two clinical studies report that patients who were given Marinol maintained a stable weight and experienced improved appetite. A preliminary study reported that after taking Marinol, five participants gained, on average, one percent body fat.
However, many of Florida’s HIV patients still prefer old-school smoking rather than Marinol to cope with wasting syndrome and to increase their appetites. Inhalation of cannabis allows more control over intake and the effects are almost instantaneous. Patients also claimed, “the munchies” are more likely to occur with smoking marijuana, effectively upping their caloric intake.
Medical Marijuana for HIV-related Anxiety and Depression
Patients living with HIV/AIDS must deal with multiple physiological issues stemming from the symptoms and the side effects of medications required for their survival. However, as we mentioned, these medications often come with a host of nasty side-effects. These side-effects can often induce states of helplessness, anxiety, and depression.
Fortunately, medical marijuana may hold the key to not only mitigating these overbearing conditions but also improving mood.
Many HIV patients will attest to marijuana’s ability to reduce anxiety and depression. It’s no secret that marijuana has been used recreationally for centuries to induce a state of euphoria. It’s believed that cannabinoids found in marijuana activate the oxytocin and cannabinoid receptors and elevate dopamine levels.
Keep in mind that lower levels of THC are reported to effectively lessen anxiety, while higher levels may increase anxiety. Conversely, CBD (the non-intoxicating cannabinoid in marijuana) appears to have powerful anti-anxiety effects even at higher doses.
How to get a Florida medical marijuana card for HIV/AIDS
The number of HIV/AIDS patients in Florida who are embracing medical marijuana to help relieve their symptoms is growing exponentially. Most medical marijuana patients, given adequate guidance, will experience positive benefits without dangerous side effects.
For patients suffering from HIV/AIDS getting a Florida medical marijuana card is fairly simple. The first step is to make an appointment with a certified Florida medical marijuana doctor to be examined. If the patient is approved the healthcare provider will assist the patient with filing an application with the state. Once the application is approved, and the card is received, patients may purchase medical marijuana at a licensed Florida medical marijuana dispensary.
Patients may opt to visit a dispensary in person or order online for curbside pickup or delivery. However, it’s always a good idea to speak with an experienced budtender either in person or on the phone to get advice on which available strains and delivery methods would be the best choice for the patient’s symptoms and lifestyle.
Also, keep in mind that CBD products derived from hemp, as opposed to medical marijuana, can be purchased over the counter in Florida.
Sign Up for Medical Cannabis in Your State
For potential medical marijuana patients we are now offering the service that makes it easy to connect with a recommending doctor near you. You will also receive updates & news relative to medical marijuana in general.
If you are interested please fill out the MMJ patient registration form and a clinic representative will contact you as available. Legal Residents Only.
MedCard Registration Form
Medical Marijuana Links:
Sources And Additional Reading:
- MARIJUANA AND AIDS – Marijuana as Medicine? – NCBI Bookshelf
- The Benefits of Medical Marijuana for HIV
- How cannabis is helping people living with HIV
- Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids
- Book: Marijuana as Medicine? The Science Beyond the Controversy