Marijuana is one of the most criminalized and stigmatized drugs in our country. So much so that law enforcement agents do not even want to admit its medicinal properties. This, of course, is changing as we can see with the rise of medical marijuana clinics in California, and the decriminalization in states such as Colorado. Besides promoting hunger and killing pain, weed may also weaken the HIV virus, so says a new paper published by the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.
The language in the paper is kinda tough but basically a compound “that stimulate the cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptor in white blood cells, specifically macrophages, appear to weaken HIV-1 infection. The CB2 receptor is the molecular link through which the pharmaceutical properties of cannabis are manifested. Diminishing HIV-1 infection in this manner might make current anti-viral therapies more effective and provide some protection against certain HIV-1 complications.”
I think what you read was: there’s a chemical in weed that interacts with your white blood cells to weaken HIV. Your white blood cells have a receptor for cannabis, similar to how our brains have receptors for nicotine.
More science talk below.
“The synthetic compounds we used in our study may show promise in helping the body fight HIV-1 infection,’” said Yuri Persidsky, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA.
“As compounds like these are improved further and made widely available, we will continue to explore their potential to fight other viral diseases that are notoriously difficult to treat.”
To make this discovery, scientists used a cell culture model to infect human macrophages with HIV-1 and added synthetic compounds similar to the active ingredient in marijuana to activate the CB2 receptor. At different times during the infection, samples from the culture were taken to see if the replication of the HIV virus was decreased. The researchers observed diminished HIV growth and a possible protective effect from some HIV-1 complications.
“HIV/AIDS has posed one of the most significant health challenges in modern medicine,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “Recent high profile vaccine failures mean that all options need to be on the table to prevent or treat this devastating infection. Research on the role of cannabinoid type 2 receptors and viral infection may one day allow targeting these receptors to be part of combination therapies that use exploit multiple weaknesses of the virus simultaneously.”
Cool. So to reiterate:
There’s an ingredient in weed that can weaken the HIV virus but researchers used an artificial compound instead of the real thing to test their theory that it weakens HIV. This is how the money will be made, folks. Instead of using the plant, scientists will make the compound in a lab, they will get permission for trials in mice, then in 30 years try to test it on humans after getting permission from the government.