Medical marijuana has had a transformative effect on the lives of numerous individuals battling HIV/AIDS. Not too long ago, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis was often considered a terminal diagnosis. Thankfully, advancements in science and medicine have rapidly evolved, leading to the development of treatments that effectively control the virus and prevent its transmission. Nevertheless, the very medications that provide a future for those with HIV can introduce daily hardships . Nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, and appetite loss are prevalent side effects of crucial drugs like AZT, ddI, d4T, Crixivan, Viracept, Viramune, Bactrim, and Megace. Beyond the medications’ side effects, one must also account for other physiological effects caused by the virus itself.
The wasting syndrome associated with HIV/AIDS is characterized by an involuntary loss of over 10% of body weight, often accompanied by prolonged diarrhea or fever . Many AIDS patients grapple with neuropathic pain, experiencing a burning sensation on their skin either spontaneously or triggered by the gentlest touch. Furthermore, there are significant impacts on patients’ emotional well-being as they strive to manage the virus’s symptoms and their treatment regimens. While the potential risks associated with marijuana use must be carefully considered, there is no denying that medical marijuana has instilled hope in many individuals contending with HIV/AIDS.
Medical Marijuana for HIV/AIDs
Antiretroviral therapy has significantly improved survival rates for individuals with HIV infection, and there’s a growing demand for addressing symptoms and side effects during prolonged drug treatment . Anecdotal reports suggest that cannabis may relieve several common symptoms and complications associated with HIV, such as poor appetite and neuropathy. A 2005 study found that about one-third of the 500+ participants used cannabis for treating HIV/AIDs symptoms.
Patients most commonly reported that it helped improve appetite and alleviate symptoms like muscle pain, nausea, anxiety, nerve pain, depression, and paresthesia . A 2009 study further evaluated the effectiveness of smoking marijuana for pain-related symptoms of HIV/AIDs and found a significant reduction in pain accompanied by improved mood and daily functioning .
Best Cannabis Strains for HIV/AIDs
For HIV/AIDs patients, some relief may be achievable through the use of cannabidiol (CBD) hemp flower that is non-psychoactive or less psychoactive 1:1 cannabis that has balanced tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. However, THC-dominant marijuana may be the more common option, especially for evening use. This option has the drawback of psychoactivity but is the most potent option for alleviating pain and stimulating appetite. Ultimately, the best person to guide patients is their medical cannabis doctor. With that in mind, here are some cannabis strains for HIV/AIDs that may be good options.
- Amnesia Haze
Amnesia Haze stands as an exceptional cannabis strain highly regarded by both recreational and medical users alike. This sativa-dominant hybrid’s genetic lineage can be traced back to the South Asian and Jamaican landrace strains. The first thing one will notice when using Amnesia Haze is its delightful and invigorating flavor. The taste harmonizes perfectly with the aroma, boasting prominent notes of citrus and sweetness, reminiscent of a burst of zesty lemon and refreshing orange, with a subtle earthy and spicy undertone.
The terpene profile of Amnesia Haze, rich in myrcene, caryophyllene, and limonene, plays a pivotal role in supporting these vibrant flavors and its medicinal attributes. Amnesia Haze is renowned for its potent and mood-elevating effects. It’s celebrated for inducing a cerebral high that is marked by euphoria, heightened energy, and enhanced creativity. Users often report an increased sense of focus, inspiration, and motivation after partaking in this strain. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking daytime relief, as it helps maintain productivity while preserving mental clarity.
- Cotton Candy
Cotton Candy, sometimes referred to as Cotton Candy Kush, may cause some confusion due to its name. It’s important to note that it’s not a true “Kush” strain like Afghani, and it doesn’t produce the typical sedative effects associated with Kush strains. Cotton Candy is the result of a cross between Lavender Kush and Power Plant. Lavender Kush, although considered an indica, offers a calming, but not sedating experience, primarily due to its sativa-dominant genetic background. On the other hand, Power Plant, an energetic African sativa landrace, imparts an uplifting and invigorating quality to the Cotton Candy strain, without being overly stimulating.
Despite these characteristics, the “Kush” name can sometimes lead to mislabeling or misunderstanding. In essence, Cotton Candy is an ideal choice for daytime or early evening use and is beginner-friendly, typically containing moderate THC levels ranging from 15% to 19%. The terpene profile of Cotton Candy Kush is chiefly composed of myrcene, pinene, and limonene, with additional minor terpenes, contributing to its distinct flavor – a sweet and floral blend with hints of cherry and lavender.
- Kush Mints
Kush Mints, also referred to as Kush Mintz, is a hybrid cannabis strain born from the union of Bubba Kush and Animal Mints. It is renowned for its delightful flavor profile, characterized by a harmonious blend of sweetness and mintiness, accented by subtle notes of pine, earthiness, and a creamy finish. These captivating flavors and scents are the handiwork of Kush Mints’ terpene composition, where limonene, caryophyllene, and linalool take the lead.
Notably, Kush Mints is celebrated for its soothing and tranquil properties. It is often recommended for individuals grappling with stress or insomnia, as it imparts a sense of relaxation and can facilitate a peaceful slumber. Simultaneously, it bestows a gentle euphoria and enhances creativity and focus, making it an attractive choice for those seeking productivity without sacrificing relaxation. While the THC content in Kush Mints can vary, it generally ranks quite high, with some variants testing at a robust 24%. This high potency might make it less suitable for novice cannabis users or those with lower tolerance levels.
- MAC #1
MAC #1, or Miracle Alien Cookies #1, is a hybrid cannabis strain resulting from the fusion of Alien Cookies and Miracle 15 (a blend of Colombian Landrace and Starfighter). The appearance of MAC #1 cannabis flowers are a true spectacle to behold, featuring buds tinged with purple hues and adorned with a generous coating of trichome crystals. This strain’s aromatic profile is underpinned by a rich terpene composition, with limonene, pinene, and caryophyllene taking center stage. These terpenes offer a delightful sensory experience characterized by sweet and vibrant flavors accompanied by floral, citrus, and earthy undertones.
When it comes to the effects of MAC #1, its creamy smoke might hit with some initial intensity, but this subsides to reveal a profound sense of euphoria and upliftment, ultimately freeing you from the shackles of stress. While the overall impact is harmonious, it’s important to note that MAC #1 typically boasts high potency. Consequently, it may prove to be overly intense for those who are less experienced with cannabis. It’s worth mentioning that MAC #1 has several phenotypes, such as MAC #4, which closely resembles #1, and MAC #9 and #10, offering notably lower potency (around 12% compared to 22%). Furthermore, MAC #1 has also served as a parent strain in the creation of numerous offspring varieties.
- Afghan Kush
One of the most renowned strains of Afghan landrace cannabis goes by the name Afghan Kush, also known as Afghani Kush. This strain is celebrated for its powerful sedative properties, often sought after for relaxation and pain relief. Afghan Kush has been employed for centuries in Afghanistan as a form of hashish for medicinal purposes. It’s believed to possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-anxiety qualities.
Hailing from the Hindu Kush mountain range along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Afghan Kush is a pure indica cannabis strain. Its buds are dense, enveloped in resinous trichomes, resulting in a sticky texture and a potent aroma. The flavor profile is characterized by earthy and woody notes, complemented by hints of sweetness and spice, attributed to the dominant terpenes myrcene, caryophyllene, and pinene.
The THC content in Afghan Kush may vary, but typically falls within the 17-20% range, signifying its potency in inducing a profound body high. Its effects are often described as deeply relaxing, with some users reporting feelings of euphoria and happiness. However, due to its sedative nature, Afghan Kush is not recommended for daytime use.
- OG Kush
OG Kush welcomes you with a bouquet of scents, including hints of gasoline, skunk, and spice. As you indulge, you’ll discover delightful flavors combining lemon and pine with subtle touches of spice and fuel. This quintessential hybrid cannabis strain, OG Kush, offers a well-rounded experience that encompasses both mind and body effects, effectively dissolving stress and replacing it with a sense of euphoria. Medical cannabis users enjoy this strain for relieving stress, anxiety, and pain. Typically, OG Kush boasts moderate THC levels, ranging from 18% to 20%, delivering a potent and enduring high. The most accomplished cultivators have even achieved impressive THC levels of up to 26%. In terms of terpenes, OG Kush features myrcene, limonene, and caryophyllene in its aromatic profile.
- Diamond OG
Diamond OG, a cannabis strain that traces its lineage to OG Kush, is known for its profound relaxation and falls within the category of indica-dominant hybrids. This strain’s name, Diamond OG, is fitting given its striking appearance. The buds are densely clustered and shimmer with a thick coat of trichomes, evoking the image of a treasure adorned with glistening diamonds. These crystals emit an intense fragrance characterized by notes of pine and earth, while the taste features nuances of citrus, spice, and wood. This aromatic profile is primarily shaped by pinene, myrcene, and caryophyllene, the dominant terpenes in Diamond OG. The effects induced by the Diamond OG strain are characteristic of a potent indica. It delivers profound relaxation, a focused body high, and a subtle sense of euphoria.
- Ellis, R. J., Toperoff, W., Vaida, F., Van Den Brande, G., Gonzales, J., Gouaux, B., … & Atkinson, J. H. (2009). Smoked medicinal cannabis for neuropathic pain in HIV: a randomized, crossover clinical trial. Neuropsychopharmacology, 34(3), 672-680. https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2008120
- Mack A, Joy J. Marijuana as Medicine? The Science Beyond the Controversy. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000. 5, MARIJUANA AND AIDS. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224400/
- Woolridge, E., Barton, S., Samuel, J., Osorio, J., Dougherty, A., & Holdcroft, A. (2005). Cannabis use in HIV for pain and other medical symptoms. Journal of pain and symptom management, 29(4), 358-367. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0885392405000631