Cannabis-Derived Medications for HIV/AIDS and Other Synthetic Drugs

Special to Hemp + Hope
This first installment will focus on the use of marijuana to treat AIDS/HIV symptoms.
We will present the potential PROs and CONs for marijuana use in each case to try to give as accurate and balanced a view as possible.

AIDS/HIV Medical Cannabis Medications – Natural and Synthetic

The AIDS/HIV symptoms said to respond most favorably with medical marijuana treatment are chronic neuropathy (pain) and wasting or severe weight loss related to loss of appetite. In a sampling of well-known MD’s, scientific publications and scholarly bodies, 54 found favorable positive effects in treating AIDS/HIV with marijuana, while 38 found that marijuana has little significant potential for symptom improvement. Those in favor of marijuana treatment were particularly impressed with the improvement in appetite and reduction in wasting, as well as pain relief. Those against were particularly concerned with potential interactions between AIDS/HIV cells and active components of marijuana, potentially causing the disease process to accelerate.

More physicians and studies are “for” as opposed to “against” medical marijuana for HIV/AIDS patients who have wasting or neuropathy. How can you decide for yourself or a loved one whether marijuana therapy for these symptoms of AIDS/HIV is appropriate? Read as many positive and negative articles as possible about the treatment for the disease or condition using marijuana that you can find from the internet. Read or interview in person people who have already gone through this experience. See what worked for them. See what didn’t. Use what feels right to you. Your intuition is an important friend in this process. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Ask the Oncology department at the local hospital if there are local support groups for your disease. Just realizing that you are not alone and have someone to share with can make a huge difference. Ask for help to share the burden. It’s out there.

Here are some of the drugs with active ingredients that could be of use:

In addition to the direct use of marijuana for smoking, vaping or edibles, a number of drugs are synthesized from cannabis plants or lab-synthesized using other chemical processes to produce the active ingredients. We’ll share this list with you along with some information about each.

Sativex: Manufacturer, GW Pharmaceuticals

Mouth spray derived directly from the natural extracts of Cannabis.
Marijuana derivative: Contains 2 cannabinols; THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabadiol).
Suggested Medical Use: Treatment of neuropathic pain and spasticity in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS); Analgesic treatment in adult patients with advanced cancer who experience moderate to severe pain. Sativex may also benefit neuropathic pain in HIV/AIDS patients.

Marinol Synthetic THC prescription
Marinol in 2.5 mg strength for nausea and vomiting

Dronobiol/ Marinol: Manufacturer, Unimed Pharmaceuticals a subsidiary of Solvay Pharmaceuticals

Marijuana derivative: synthetic Delta 9 THC
Suggested Medical Use: Treatment of nausea and vomiting for patients in cancer treatment; appetite stimulant to combat wasting (cachexia) for HIV/AIDS patients; analgesic to ease neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis patients. Marinol pills are sometimes too strong for many patients with HIV/AIDS. This medication is prescribed prior to any medical marijuana prescription in many states. Marinol is not made directly from cannabis plants.

Nabilone / Cesamet: Manufacturer, Daleant Pharmaceuticals International

Marijuana derivative: Synthetic cannabanoid similar to THC
Suggested Medical Use: Treatment of nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing cancer treatment. Nabilone / Cesamet is sometimes prescribed for HIV/AIDS-related nausea and cachexia.

These additional drugs are lab-synthesized and are being used for other conditions.

Dexanabinol / Solvay: Manufacturer, Pharmaceuticals International

Marijuana derivative: Synthetic non-psychotropic cannabinoid that blocks NMDA receptors and COX-2 cytokines and chemokines.
Suggested Medical Use: Neuroprotective (protects brain from damage) for use after cardiac surgery; regain memory and other high-level function following Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); possible future use as an anti-cancer drug.

CT-3 Ajulemic Acid: Manufacturer, Indevus Pharmaceuticals

Marijuana derivative: Synthetic, more potent analog of THC metabolite THC-11-oic acid.

Suggested Medical Use: Treatment of spasticity and neuropathic pain in MS patients; anti-inflammatory properties may help relieve pain from arthritis.

Cannabinor: Manufacturer, Pharmos

Marijuana derivative: Synthetic chemical that specifically binds to the brain’s secondary cannabinoid receptor (CB2).

Suggested Medical Use: Anti-inflammatory; treatment of chronic pain with an emphasis on neuropathic (nerve) pain; bladder control.

HU 308: Manufacturer, Pharmos (licensed from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Marijuana derivative: Synthetic chemical that specifically binds to the brain’s secondary cannabinoid receptor (CB2).

Suggested Medical Use: Treatment of hypertension; anti-inflammatory.

HU 331: Manufacturer, Cayman Chemical

Marijuana derivative: Synthetic chemical compound composed of central cannabinoid (CB1), peripheral cannabinoid (CB2), and non-CB receptor-mediated pharmacology.

Suggested Medical Use: Treatment of memory, weight loss, appetite, neurodegeneration, tumor surveillance, analgesia, and inflammation.

Rimonabant Acomplia: Manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis

Marijuana derivative: Synthetic chemical that blocks endocannabinoids from being received in the brain, and, as a result, suppresses appetite.

Suggested Medical Use: Anti-obesity (appetite reducer).

Taranabant: Manufacturer, Merck

Marijuana derivative: Targets receptors in the brain linked to appetite; acts as a Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1R) inverse agonist, blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which suppresses appetite.

Suggested Medical Use: Anti-obesity.

We hope you enjoyed this first installment of “Diseases and Conditions that may be treated using Marijuana and Synthetic Marijuana Derivatives. We’ll be focusing on the details of a different disease, condition or marijuana derivative with each new installment.