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Hi, I am HIV positive. With standard problems that this disease brings I have problems with wasting, nausea and peripheral neuropathy pain. I am taking Marinol (THC pill dronabinol) to treat those symptoms. But I have heard that marijuana is also good for this. Can you tell me which the effects of marijuana versus Marinol are?

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Yes you have heard right. Marijuana also can ease those troubles. Problem with it is that she is not legal in some states. Also it can make some serious problems with respiratory organs. Calorie intake is similar with both marijuana and Marinol. There were some studies on this subject that showed that Marinol is not superior to whole smoked marijuana.
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A few years late, but may help others.

Marinol is simply synthetic 'THC' (Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannibinol) dissolved in a sesame oil containing gelcap. It will stimulate your appetite and put your wallet on a serious diet.

Marijuana contains a combination of cannabinoids, of which THC and CBD (Cannabidiol) are the predominant ones. There are dozens of others and they all vary by strain and other factors such as growing, storage, and usage conditions.

THC is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana and as such, the DEA required Marinol to initially be listed under Schedule II with the high abuse drugs. Except...it wasn't abused much. So it was rescheduled down to Schedule III. It seems that pure THC isn't that much fun and orally can be highly intoxicating without much ability to adjust the dose if overshot.

The British did some interesting research involving double blind IV drips with either pure THC or THC and other significant cannabinoids. The subjects found the THC alone to be dysphoric, but when THC was combined with other cannabinoids (which by themselves are not psychoactive) the subjects became euphoric. Giddy would be more accurate.

To your point, the difference would be that both will ease your nausea and increase your appetite, but you'll feel much better using marijuana than Marinol. Be legal and get the necessary approvals.

Since you mentioned neuropathic pain as a co-morbid indication, I will tell you that you will not receive much benefit from Marinol for this condition. Marijuana on the other hand, has millennia of anecdotal and now empirical research to vouch for its effectiveness against chronic pain, particularly neuropathic pain. This is because THC alone does not activate the cannabinoid receptors on glial cells nearly to the extent that moderate amounts of a balanced mix of cannabinoids containing THC with CBD. The glial cells signal the pain neurons. Google glial cells and chronic pain. Some profound research is emerging and marijuana is turning up as exceedingly safe and effective against a lot of disease states. Somebody's been lying to us.
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