Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella, MD on December 17, 2021

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the chemicals in marijuana, also known as cannabis. It’s not the one that gets you “high.” That’s THC. CBD is legal in all 50 states, though some have stricter rules than others.

There’s some evidence that marijuana may help with HIV symptoms and some side effects of treatment. Scientists are still learning how it works. Most studies are on the entire cannabis plant, not specific chemicals. Here’s what we found.

Effects of Marijuana

Researchers have learned that cannabis acts like endocannabinoids. These are molecules your body makes naturally. They help manage your stress levels, sleep, and metabolism. They also help with your memory, inflammation, and immune system.

In one study, people with HIV said marijuana:

How CBD May Help

Two studies done in animals found that CBD helped with inflammation and neuropathic pain in rodents like rats and mice. There’s also evidence CBD may help with anxiety and insomnia. More research is needed to know if it can do the same for humans.

Is It Safe?

CBD comes in many forms, from liquid drops to oil to vapes. But the FDA doesn’t regulate most of those products. The only FDA-approved form of CBD oil is Epidiolex, a prescription drug that treats two types of epilepsy. So it’s hard to be sure other CBD products are what they say they are, even if the label looks official. For instance, THC has been found in some CBD products. There’s also no guarantee the product has as much CBD as the label says. CBD can also have side effects. It may cause:

To get the best results:

Choose the purified form. Try to find a source you can trust. And use CBD only instead of marijuana. This will help you get potential health benefits without the “high” caused by THC.

Don’t smoke it.Smoking of any kind harms your lungs.

Know your dose. Talk to your doctor about how much and how often you should take it to get the best results.

Check for drug interactions. CBD can keep some medications, like blood thinners, from working the way they’re supposed to. Always check with your doctor before trying CBD as a treatment for your HIV symptoms.

Show Sources


Mayo Clinic: “What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?”

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management: “Cannabis Use in HIV for Pain and Other Medical Symptoms.”

FDA: “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy.”

UCLA Health: “Human Endocannabinoid System.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t.”

Journal of Experimental Medicine: “Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors.”

European Journal of Pharmacology: “The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.”

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