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HIV/AIDS and CBD Oil: Managing Symptoms and Side Effects

The first known case of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in humans dates back to 1959, and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic took hold of the United States just 20 years later. Despite considerable medical improvements that have resulted in people living longer, healthier, and happier lives, there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS.

However, thanks to modern medicine, HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. While effective, the medications used to manage HIV/AIDS symptoms and side effects are powerful and can bring with them a whole other set of issues.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil will not be able to cure these conditions, but it could play an integral role in managing the many symptoms that come from both the diseases and their common treatments.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil for HIV and AIDS

Most people with HIV/AIDS will undergo antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART often includes taking multiple pills from several classes of drugs to manage symptoms and prevent the disease from progressing. These treatments have proven to be incredibly effective but they are not easy to take; adding CBD oil could make things a little bit easier.

It is important to have regular check-ups with a physician to manage the potential side effects of ART and find the right balance of taking enough medicine to combat HIV/AIDS symptoms while minimizing adverse effects.

ART side effects can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • High blood sugar
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Bone loss and weakened bones

CBD is currently being researched for its possible therapeutic benefits, many of which show promise for reducing the side effects of HIV/AIDS treatments. Considering the complications of the illness itself, like a weakened immune system, you may understand why someone might be looking for help from CBD oil.

CBD oil carries relatively mild side effects and has been shown to be safe for use by HIV patients.

While in some instances, CBD oil can provide relief, it is not without risks: CBD oil can interact with some common HIV/AIDS medications. This is why it’s crucial to speak to your doctor before starting any sort of new treatment regimen that includes CBD oil.

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HIV/AIDS Drug Name Interaction with CBD Oil Management Options
Ziagen; Sustiva; Truvada; Viramune; Combivir CBD may cause damage to the liver when used with a substance that can induce hepatotoxicity. Should not be used together without medical supervision. Serum transaminases and total bilirubin levels should be tested prior to and during CBD use.
Reyataz; Crixivan CBD may increase the plasma concentrations of CBD when used with potent inhibitors of CYP450 2C19 and/or CYP450 3A4. Should not be used together without medical supervision. Lower CBD dosages should be used.

Again, talk to your doctor before using CBD oil. Because CBD oil can interact with some other medications as well, it is important to make sure that it is a safe option for you.

Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil for HIV and AIDS

While there is still plenty of research that needs to be done, there are several examples of how CBD oil can be used to relieve some symptoms of HIV/AIDS and common treatment options, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, heart disease, and inflammation.

In fact, a clinical trial examining the effect of cannabis on pain and other HIV/AIDS symptoms found that it improved the condition for a majority of the patients that used it.

Here’s a closer look at some of the existing research on CBD oil and the common HIV/AIDS-related symptoms it may be able to help.

CBD Oil for Chronic Pain

HIV/AIDS patients may experience chronic pain from the disease itself or from the treatments being used to manage it. Patients often report neuropathic pain (nerve pain), stomach pains, or joint pain. CBD oil may help reduce these types of pain by targeting their cause at the source.

CBD oil works both directly and indirectly on the body’s endocannabinoid system. One of the ways CBD oil does this is by modulating the system’s CB2 receptors located in the central nervous system. These are the receptors that are responsible for the regulation of pain and inflammation, and CBD could relieve chronic pain through its anti-inflammatory effects on them.

CBD can also change the perception of pain by influencing glycine receptors. These are inhibitory receptors that are also found in the central nervous system and play a role in the modulation of pain. CBD oil has been shown to increase the effect of these receptors, ultimately reducing pain.

CBD Oil for Nausea

Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite are common side effects in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. While the connection is still being researched, it’s believed that an increase in the neurotransmitter serotonin provokes nausea and vomiting.

It’s also believed that CBD oil reduces nausea due to its impact on the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. CBD indirectly activates these receptors, which sends signals for less serotonin production. By reducing the amount of serotonin in the body, CBD oil can stop nausea and vomiting at their source.

CBD Oil for Appetite

Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for the ongoing health of HIV and AIDS patients. Not only does CBD oil reduce nausea, but it may also increase appetite. As reported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in research conducted in animal test subjects, “cannabinoids have a stimulatory effect on appetite and increase food intake.”

When it comes to HIV/AIDS specifically, more research is required. One review of the currently available information concluded that “there is limited evidence that cannabis and oral cannabinoids are effective in increasing appetite and decreasing weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS.”

Hopefully, further studies will overcome the “limited evidence” and lead to more concrete answers.

CBD Oil for Building Muscle and Bone Density

Muscle atrophy can be a common symptom of HIV/AIDS. This, in turn, leads to reduced bone density and potential added health complications.

Cortisol is a catabolic hormone which reduces protein synthesis and prevents the growth of new tissue, both of which are key processes in the maintenance and growth of muscle. Cortisol is released throughout the day but is additionally triggered by stress.

CBD oil is anti-catabolic, meaning it helps regulate the amount of cortisol present in the body. By reducing cortisol levels, muscle growth and protein synthesis are able to occur more readily. And it isn’t just during the day that CBD helps to build muscle.

At night, CBD oil promotes deeper REM sleep, which is the time that cortisol levels are naturally at their lowest. This provides the body an opportunity to replenish muscle tissue overnight, which it wouldn’t be able to do in those who suffer from shallow, broken sleep—a common side effect of antiretroviral medications.

How To Use CBD Oil for HIV and AIDS

There are many different ways to use CBD oil to manage the symptoms and side effects associated with HIV/AIDS and its treatments. BUT, before you do anything, consult with your doctor on whether using CBD oil is a safe option for you. When you have the “all clear,” you can start contemplating which CBD products you’d like to try.

The delivery format you choose will depend largely on your needs and personal preferences. Dosage control is one of the things you will want to consider when choosing a CBD oil product. CBD oil drops or vape oils allow for some of the most convenient control options.

CBD oil drops and tinctures can be added to a daily supplement routine and provide a convenient way to adjust your dose, down to the literal drop. Starting with a CBD oil tincture or drops is a great way to find the dosage that’s ideal for reducing your symptoms. You will also see the effects fairly quickly—typically 30 minutes after administering the liquid under your tongue—and can expect them to last between 2 and 4 hours.

CBD inhalants, like CBD vapes and flower, go to work quickly, usually showing effects within minutes, offering a fast-acting option for people who experience sudden symptoms or side effect flare-ups. The effects of CBD vapes and flower do not last long though, usually an hour at most, so these delivery formats are best complemented with CBD products that produce longer-lasting benefits.

CBD oil capsules and edibles (like CBD gummies) will provide a relatively consistent dosing option. CBD oil capsules and edibles need to pass through the digestive system before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream, delaying the onset of effects for up to an hour. However, the effects of these ingested CBD products can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.

CBD oil topicals, like CBD lotions, creams, and salves, may be able to provide targeted relief to painful areas of the body. Their effects may last anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, giving you consistent relief from physical pain throughout the day.

Finally, CBD transdermal patches can provide up to 2 days of relief with one application. You simply apply the patch and CBD is released into your body over the course of 24 to 48 hours. Because this CBD delivery format tends to be potent and long-lasting, it may be best to get acquainted with CBD’s effects by way of capsules or drops before diving into the more pronounced effects of a transdermal patch.

CBD Oil Dosage for HIV/AIDS

Finding the right dosage to manage the symptoms of HIV/AIDS and its treatments is a personal experience. No two people will react to CBD the same way, so it’s important to carefully monitor how you’re feeling—mentally and physically—when first starting out.

As a starting point, we at CBD Oil Review have tested hundreds of products and recommend the following:

The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily

If this dose isn’t producing effects for you, increase it by 25 mg every 3 to 4 weeks.

Keeping a log of the changes you’re experiencing will help you track which dosages and products are working best for your symptoms. For additional dosage advice, you should consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor who can prescribe a regimen tailored to your needs.

Best CBD Oils for HIV and AIDS

When choosing the best CBD oil for HIV/AIDS, there are a few things that should be taken into careful consideration.

CBD oil is available in most states throughout the country, with strong potencies and THC/CBD blends also available for HIV/AIDS treatment in the majority of states that have legalized medicinal marijuana. Before making any purchase, find the regulations specific to your state to make sure you are complying with all laws.

As a non-psychoactive, non-addictive substance, CBD oil can offer lots of benefits to HIV/AIDS patients. But, in order to reap the most reward, it is important to purchase high-quality CBD products.

Here are some tips to finding a high-quality CBD oil:

  1. Shop organic. Buying a CBD oil that is derived for organic hemp will ensure that your product is free from pesticides and herbicides.
  2. Look for Certificates of Analysis. Purchase from reputable brands that have their products tested by an outside source and post up-to-date (within the last 6 months) Certificates of Analysis (COA). This information will give you a complete chemical breakdown of the CBD oil. It will help you confirm potency and avoid unwanted additives.
  3. Read the ingredients. Avoid products that are full of artificial or chemical additives. Most quality CBD oils only contain a small handful of ingredients and use natural terpenes and essential oils for flavoring.

CBD oil is in no way, shape, or form, a cure for HIV/AIDS but it may function well as a complementary treatment, helping to address treatment side effects and the symptoms of the underlying condition itself.

+ 7 sources


  1. (2020) HIV/AIDS - Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373531
  2. Donald I Abrams et al. Short-term effects of cannabinoids in patients with HIV-1 infection: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12965981/
  3. Emily Woolridge et al. Cannabis use in HIV for pain and other medical symptoms - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15857739/
  4. Wei Xiong et al. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371734/
  5. M Minami et al. [Role of serotonin in emesis] - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8974084/
  6. 4Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425767/
  7. A W Zuardi et al. Effect of cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8257923/

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