Cannabis Has "Clear Medical Benefits" For HIV Patients
Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst
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Has "Clear Medical Benefits" For HIV Patients, Study Says -- Smoked
marijuana produces “substantial and comparable increases in food intake
… with little evidence of discomfort and no impairment of cognitive
June 28, 2007 - New York, NY, USA
New York, NY:
Inhaling cannabis significantly increases daily caloric intake and body
weight in HIV-positive patients, is well tolerated, and does not impair
subjects’ cognitive performance, according to clinical trial data to be
published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS).
Investigators at Columbia University in New York assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis and oral THC (Marinol)
in a group of ten HIV-positive patients in a double-blind,
placebo-controlled trial. All of the subjects participating in the
study had prior experience using marijuana therapeutically and were
taking at least two antiretroviral medications.
reported that smoking cannabis (2.0 or 3.9 percent THC) four times
daily "produced substantial … increases in food intake … with little
evidence of discomfort and no impairment of cognitive performance."
average, patients who smoked higher-grade cannabis (3.9 percent)
increased their body weight by 1.1 kg over a four-day period.
Researchers reported that inhaling cannabis increased the number of
times subjects ate during the study, but did not alter the average
number of calories consumed during each meal.
said that the administration of oral THC produced similar weight gains
in patients, but only at doses that were "eight times current
recommendations." The US Food and Drug Administration approved the
prescription use of Marinol (a gelatin capsule containing synthetic THC
in sesame oil) to treat HIV/AIDS-related cachexia in 1992.
in the study reported feeling intoxicated after using either cannabis
or oral THC, but remarked that these effects were "positive" and "well
not a primary outcome measure of the trial, authors reported that
patients made far fewer requests for over-the-counter medications while
taking either cannabis or oral THC than they did when administered
placebo. Most of these requests were to treat patients’
gastrointestinal complaints (nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach),
in the study also reported that smoking higher-strength marijuana
subjectively improved their sleep better than oral THC.
data demonstrate that over four days of administration, smoked
marijuana and oral [THC] produced a similar range of positive effects:
increasing food intake and body weight and producing a ‘good [drug]
effect’ without producing uncomfortable levels of intoxication or
impairing cognitive function," authors wrote.
added, "Smoked marijuana … has a clear medical benefit in HIV-positive
[subjects] by increasing food intake and improving mood and objective
and subjective sleep measures."
A previous preliminary trial by Columbia investigators published in the journal Psychopharmacology
in 2005 also reported that inhaling cannabis "produce[s] substantial …
increases in food intake [in HIV+ positive patients] without producing
Survey data indicates that an estimated one out of three HIV/AIDS patients in North America use cannabis therapeutically to combat symptoms of the disease or the side-effects of antiretroviral medications.
Clinical trial data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2003 reported that cannabis use by HIV patients is associated with increased CD4/T-cell counts compared to non-users. A separate study published in JAIDS in 2005 found that HIV/AIDS patients who report using medical marijuana are 3.3 times more likely to adhere to their antiretroviral therapy regimens than non-cannabis users.
recently, investigators at San Francisco General Hospital and the
University of California's Pain Clinical Research Center reported this
year in the journal Neurology that inhaling cannabis significantly reduced HIV-associated neuropathy (nerve pain) compared to placebo.
Columbia University study is one of the first US-led clinical trials to
evaluate the efficacy of smoked cannabis to take place in nearly two
decades, and it is the first to compare the tolerability and efficacy
of smoked marijuana and oral THC in HIV patients.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full text of the study, "Dronabinol and marijuana in HIV-positive
marijuana smokers: caloric intake, mood, and sleep," will appear in the
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. Further discussion of
this trial is available on the Thursday, June 28 edition of the NORML
Daily Audio Stash, online at: http://www.normlaudiostash.com.
updated: Jun 28, 2007
Distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
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