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  • Writer's pictureGreen Leaf Medical Marijuana Card Doctors

Best Cannabis Strains for HIV & AIDS Patients

Pairing the best strains for HIV/AIDS with your everyday medication can be transformative for pain and symptom management associated with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Medical advances in past decades have vastly improved the prognosis and quality of life for HIV patients, but many patients still choose to couple traditional treatment with medical marijuana.

Different cannabis strains can potentially help relieve certain symptoms caused by the disease itself as well as the side effects of HIV/AIDS medications. Choosing the perfect strain for your symptoms can help to provide relief.

Medical Cannabis for HIV/AIDS

Advances in antiretroviral therapy have greatly improved survival rates for patients with HIV. However, treating a chronic HIV infection often leaves patients suffering from a range of side effects that affect their quality of life. 

Many HIV/AIDS patients find that medical marijuana improves some of the symptoms of HIV or the side effects of their treatment. A 2019 study indicated that up to 77% of patients use MMJ to treat symptoms linked to their HIV/AIDS symptoms.

How MMJ Can Help Treat HIV/AIDS Symptoms

HIV/AIDS is a qualifying condition for the use of medical marijuana in Arizona. This means that patients with an HIV diagnosis can apply for or renew their medical marijuana card, which allows them to purchase marijuana excise tax-free.

Several studies report MMJ's efficacy in treating symptoms presented by individuals suffering from HIV or AIDS. MMJ is often used to treat symptoms including nausea and vomiting, and appetite loss. Dronabinol, an FDA-approved synthetic version of THC, is also used to stimulate appetite and reverse weight loss caused by HIV/AIDS.

MMJ as a Partner to Antiretroviral Therapy

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) offers potentially life-saving treatment for HIV/AIDS patients. It can reduce HIV levels and boost your immune system. However, its severe side effects can cause some patients to discontinue their treatment. Unfortunately, stopping ART treatment can cause the HIV virus to become immune to some of the drugs designed to treat the condition.

Starting ART in the acute HIV infection phase and then continuing ART long-term is therefore of utmost importance. MMJ could support ART by making the side effects more bearable and improving patients' commitment to ongoing treatment. A 2015 study concluded that cannabis use doesn't compromise effective adherence to ART.

Best Strains for HIV Symptoms

The best strains for HIV/AIDS symptoms will largely depend on the symptoms each patient displays. Vaping or smoking marijuana has the fastest onset of effects. However, you can also consume these cannabis strains in edibles, tinctures, or capsules if you prefer not to smoke.

Nausea and Vomiting

There are several candidates for the best strain for nausea and vomiting. Look for the terpene content in your strains for a good indication of its antiemetic effects. Limonene and myrcene could be particularly effective for improving nausea.

Top Strains Containing Limonene

Limonene offers a citrusy aroma and flavor and helps to support healthy digestion. The following strains contain limonene and are worth trying if you're suffering from nausea and/or vomiting:

Super Lemon Haze

Containing around 20% THC, Super Lemon Haze is said to spark creativity and offer uplifting effects. MMJ patients turn to this strain to reduce queasiness, chronic pain, and fatigue.


The Lavender strain contains around 19% THC and offers euphoric, calming, and relaxing effects. Consume this strain in the evening to suppress nausea and enjoy a tranquil night.

Top Strains Containing Myrcene

Myrcene is a common terpene found in many essential oils, mangoes, lemongrass, and hops. Many strains contain some myrcene, but the following strains could offer a higher ratio along with the terpene’s analgesic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties:

Durban Poison

This potent strain (17-26% THC) offers energizing and uplifting effects. Consume this during the day for relief from nausea and vomiting as well as appetite stimulation.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights (16-21% THC) is known for its antiemetic and relaxing effects. Expect a calming effect that’s perfect for evening use as you curl up on the sofa. 


Understandably, suffering chronic health conditions takes a toll on patients' mental health. Incidences of anxiety and depression are significant among HIV patients.

Many HIV patients could benefit from MMJ for anxiety. Look for indica-dominant strains that have more body-orientated effects and won't exacerbate any anxiety you already have. Alternatively, CBD-rich strains could be a great option for a non-intoxicating experience.

Apple Fritter

If you're looking for uplifting effects to lift you out of a slump, Apple Fritter (22% THC) is a great option. Consumers report anxiety-relieving effects, happiness, and a boost of energy.

Charlotte's Web

This high-CBD/low-THC stain will offer a hit of cannabidiol which offers anxiolytic properties (alleviating symptoms of anxiety). With around 13% CBD and little to no THC, you may feel calmer without psychoactive effects.

Appetite Loss

Cannabis is notorious for its ability to stimulate appetite, and many consumers will be familiar with the "munchies" that may drive them toward the fridge during a session.

For HIV/AIDS patients who may have lost their appetite or wish to gain back the weight they've lost, finding the best strains for appetite stimulation is more serious. AIDS wasting syndrome, for example, involves severe weight loss characterized by the involuntary loss of 10% or more of a person's body weight. For these individuals, stimulating appetite and gaining weight is a top priority.

These strains could be a great starting point to regain control of your appetite:

Pineapple Kush

This is an indica-dominant strain with around 20% THC. As the name suggests, you'll enjoy a sweet pineapple taste with a light cerebral and body high.

OG Kush

This is another indica-dominant strain with a citrus scent and taste and approximately 20% THC. If you're looking for a relaxing high, this could be the strain for you.

When consuming weed to gain weight, choose a delicious weed strain of which you enjoy the taste and aroma. You could also try edibles as an option to stimulate your appetite and take in some calories at the same time.

Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain—or nerve pain—is a common symptom associated with HIV/AIDS. The following strains could be helpful in alleviating pain:

Jack Herer

Jack Herer offers gentle physical relaxation and mood-boosting effects. This could be a good option for patients with mild to moderate neuropathic pain. 

Blue Dream

Blue Dream (around 18% THC) contains high levels of pinene and myrcene, which are said to offer analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. You'll notice a cerebral high that will diminish your nerve pain while allowing you to stay focused and productive. For this reason, it could be a good option for daytime use.


Sativa strains are associated with a head high that can get you up and about with a renewed sense of purpose. Try these to enjoy an uplifting energy boost:

Durban Poison

With 19% THC, Durban Poison is like a shot of fresh coffee, offering a stimulating and clear-headed high. If you're feeling drowsy, bleary, or sluggish, Durban Poison can give you the boost you need. Be prepared for a wave of energy and intense emotional euphoria.

Sour Diesel

Sour Diesel has between 17-26% THC and offers energizing effects perfect for combating fatigue or depression. Expect increased motivation and mental clarity. 

Pair Ongoing HIV/AIDS Treatment with Medical Marijuana

Taking control of your condition by keeping on top of its symptoms and staying healthy is possible with a constant and dedicated treatment plan. Undergoing treatment like ART is crucially important for HIV/AIDS patients—both to treat their symptoms and help prevent retransmission of the virus.

Pairing your prescribed medications with MMJ could also be beneficial for keeping symptoms in check and improving your overall quality of life. Be prepared to experiment with different strains and consumption methods to find the products that best fit your condition and lifestyle.


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