Millions of people live with HIV/AIDS every day; at the end of 2015 there were over 36 million worldwide suffering from the disease. While modern medical advances have produced quite effective long-term medications to reduce viral loads and extend the life span of those with HIV/AIDS, these medications come with a myriad of side effects. Depending on the patient and the medication, these side effects can range from diarrhea and dizziness to nausea, vomiting, nerve problems, generalized pain, and fatigue. Recent studies have studied the effects of cannabis on many of these negative side effects, and have shown that cannabis can significantly ease the suffering caused by the extensive side effects of HIV/AIDS and the medications that go along with it.
One 2014 study in Canada identified that, among the participants in its study, 38.5 percent used cannabis while undergoing treatment for HIV/AIDS. This study found that, among those cannabis users, over 80 percent reported that cannabis relieved their HIV-related symptoms of stress and pain. These patients reported spending an average of approximately $105 on cannabis each month; compared to the thousands of dollars monthly it can cost a Canadian, for example, to pay for the other related medical costs of HIV/AIDS. As such, on an economic basis alone, cannabis provides an efficient treatment for these generalized adverse side effects of HIV/AIDS medications.
Loss of Appetite
One of the earliest symptoms of HIV/AIDS is a loss of appetite, often with an associated rapid weight loss. This symptom can continue and worsen when patients start taking medication to treat the disease. Loss of appetite might sound demure, but the resulting decrease in nutrients and body weight can exacerbate other HIV-related symptoms and put patients at risk for other infections. Cannabis is an especially effective treatment for this particular symptom, as it was shown in a 2007 study. In this study, cannabis increased both daily caloric intake as well as body weight – an impressive feat considering the other side effects of HIV medications, such as nausea and vomiting, that exacerbate the typical loss of appetite many HIV/AIDS patients deal with daily.
One of the trademark symptoms of HIV/AIDS is pain – specifically peripheral neuropathic pain, meaning pain related to the nerves. Many patients experience this pain in their toes and feet, and describe it as aching or burning or pins and needles. The treatment of this pain is usually completed using anticonvulsants and analgesics, or in the case of severe pain, narcotics.
One study looked at the effect of cannabis on this HIV-induced nerve pain, with fifty patients smoking cannabis three times daily for five days. After this five day period, patients reported a 34 percent reduction in pain. This is especially significant, as this reduction in pain is comparable to oral drugs typically used to treat this kind of neuropathic pain, showing that cannabis is an effective alternative to long-term narcotics.
While many studies have shown the positive effects of cannabis on specific symptoms of HIV/AIDS, scientists have not yet identified the exact mechanism through which cannabis acts upon the disease itself. There is a large amount of evidence that suggests cannabis acts as an immune modulator and anti-viral agent, but these studies have not yet been completed in human subjects. One study, however, was able to statistically prove the effects of cannabis use on the plasma HIV RNA viral loads.
This longitudinal study, conducted over more than a decade, monitored viral loads in cannabis users – the result being that cannabis use was strongly associated with lower viral loads. Showing that cannabis has a positive correlation with reduction of HIV/AIDS viral loads supports continuing research into the physiological effects of cannabis on HIV/AIDS infected individuals, and supports the increasing legalization of cannabis as a medical treatment.
With more and more studies showing the positive effects of cannabis in those suffering from HIV/AIDS, it is becoming more apparent that cannabis is both an economically and medically viable treatment. Hopefully the continued research into both the broad effects of medical cannabis and its specific effects on widespread diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, can provide fact-based fodder for the ever-continuing debate on legalization – medical or otherwise.
Vaporizing, or vaping, one’s herbal flowers or concentrates is all the rage and a great way to practice harm reduction and avoid the carcinogens and toxins produced by burning any herb or extract with a flame. Vapor is superior to smoke and believed by some to produce a more uplifting, “cleaner” high that contains more of what patients and lifestyle users want (cannabinoids and terpenes) and less of what they don’t (toxins and non-trichome plant matter).
While dabbing is commonly associated with youth culture and one doesn’t typically conjure an image of a glaucoma-ridden senior citizen hunched over a dab rig (unless he or she follows @elderlywhodab on Instagram), vaping concentrates is one of the most efficient ways for very sick patients to receive cannabinoid medicine. People suffering from any condition that requires quick relief from pain (think diseases like migraines and arthritis) or nausea (such as that produced by chemotherapy) can gain significant relief from dabbing.
Mobility + Dab Rig Draws
Many patients and cannabis consumers desire the power and efficiency of a desktop dab rig — complete with water bubbler for cool, smooth vapor hits — while also yearning for the convenience and portability of a conventional vape pen or portable vaporizer. Also, many mobile-consumers desire some relief from the frequent cleaning of ash associated with most vape pens. Such a solution now exists in the Aquamizer Bubbler Attachment by WeVape.
WeVape, one of the most unique companies in the cannabis vaporizer industry, develops and sells special vape pens and accessories intended to conveniently vaporize cannabis concentrates at home or on-the-go. The company produces small, efficient devices that vaporize any cannabis extract such as BHO, CO2 oil, live resin, or rosin. Those who are into or curious about popular concentrates like shatter, crumble, or wax are prime candidates for WeVape’s hardware. In essence, the company sells a very small, very sexy, and very efficient mobile dab rig for about one-third to half the cost one would expect.
The most impressive trait of this mobile dabber? Big, dense vapor draws. Said one Whaxy reviewer:
“You get a dab hit, not a vape pen hit.”
Conventional dab rigs are designed to fully vaporize small amounts, or dabs, of concentrates, not the flower (buds) of the plant. Because of their unique role, dabbing vape pens feature atomizers and different internals than conventional pens or mobile vapes. The atomizer is the actual surface on which the dab is placed at the time of vaporization; it is where the magic occurs.
Three Dab-Friendly Components
WeVape’s affordable dabbing vape pen is comprised of three components:
- Aquamizer Bubbler Attachment (water filtration): When filled with cold water, this unit helps deliver smooth hits that rarely burn one’s throat or cause excessive coughing. The most impressive characteristic of this device isn’t its attractive curves or powerful, directed air flow, but rather its diminutive size. Partnered with WeVape’s Patriot Heating Element and a 30W battery (eLeaf iStick), this portable vaping dab rig costs only $90, a tremendous value for those seeking high-quality dabbing. Full-size desktop dab rigs simply can’t compete on price, ease-of-use, or safety (no need for a blow torch with WeVape’s devices is a major benefit).
- Patriot Heating Element (atomizer): This slick, solid device features a capable and strong magnetic sealing system. WeVape claims the $25 unit can provide up to 800 percent greater airflow than conventional models. It features a titanium coil and cone-shaped lid that attaches via a magnet (something WeVape dubs “MagneSeal Technology”) and reduces splash by channeling excessive concentrate or oil.
- Eleaf iStick 30W (battery): The iStick is a bleeding edge battery available for only $40 that powers the WeVape vape pen. It charges via USB, making it convenient to give one’s Aquamizer vape pen a boost of energy from a common laptop computer, one’s car, or any device that features one of these ubiquitous power/data connections. This slick, pocketable device features a stainless steel connecting thread and can be adjusted according to temperature or wattage, a nice feature absent on competing models. It is recommended to set the iStick between 10-15 watts.
WeVape sells each of these items separately or as a package. The company’s mix-and-match model selection allows one to easily and cost-effectively purchase replacement parts or spares. For example, one can choose from 30W and 50W eLeaf battery models (the 50W offers additional power for extended dab sessions, but greater bulk).
Because of the Aquamizer’s water filtration, it matches desktop dab rigs in functionality and vapor purity. Due to their high quality and superior engineering, the combination of the iStick battery, WeVape’s Patriot Heating Element atomizer, and Aquamizer water bubbler is a tour-de-force in the world of mobile dabbing that warrants investigation by any self-respecting dabber or those looking for a bit more than simply smoking or vaping flowers.
Strengths of the WeVape product combination outlined above include smooth hits and no need for a blow torch. Explained one Whaxy reviewer who is also an expert dabber,
“It hits even smoother than my tri-level honeycomb percolator bong.”
The WeVape delivers hits as big as a dab rig and is considerably less expensive than an electronic-nail. The portability of this svelte unit makes it perfect for those who want the full power and vapor of a dab rig delivered by a package barely larger than a pack of cigarettes.
The magnetic connection employed by the device ensures a solid and reliable fit, with no unnecessary broken glass due to a sloppy or weak contact point. For the temperature adjustment, users can select watts, not just degrees, helping ensure proper titration (dosing) by maintaining accurate temperatures. Because cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize at different temperatures (based on their respective boiling points), dialing in the right temperature when vaporizing concentrates is critical for maximum medical efficacy or psychoactive effect. This also helps users get the most from their expensive concentrates, which typically cost $45-90 per gram.
Also, use of a WeVape concentrate pen is considerably faster and easier than a dab rig — in addition to being vastly more mobile. Most of this time and convenience advantage is gained from the fact that a blow torch isn’t necessary to operate this device. Because of its leading edge high-capacity battery and efficient atomizer, dabbers no longer need to worry about burning down the drapes or catching the dog on fire. And the sound of a blow torch firing up? Decidedly not soothing. It’s often an intimidating buzz kill for average patients and lifestyle consumers.
In addition, because it vaporizes cannabis concentrates and doesn’t burn then, the WeVape unit is odorless, quiet (the bubbler is the only source of sound), and highly efficient. Due to its small size, it is discreet and can be used by those in prohibitionist states or when around people who disapprove of cannabinoid medicine. Vaping overall — whether one pursues dabbing or not — is much safer than smoking, both in terms of health risks and also the fact that it doesn’t alert those in the immediate area, via a pungent odor, that cannabis is being burned and consumed.
Aquamizer: The Bubbler Attachment
The real secret to the success of the WeVape mobile dabbing solution is the Aquamizer. This simple, attractive attachment is what allows the WeVape vape pen to achieve the type of dense, white vapor typically available only from a full-size desktop dab rigs. In many respects, portable devices like the WeVape and its ultra-practical Aquamizer are clearly superior to conventional dab rigs because they do not require a blow torch or the guesswork of estimating the temperature of a nail (set the iStick between 10-15 watts).
Mobile dabbers like the WeVape vape pen and Aquamizer bubbler attachment are a revolution in consumer dabbing simply because the vast majority of patients and lifestyle consumers don’t desire to play with a blow torch to get an extra-potent dose of cannabinoids. In fact, many patients with diseases that impact their mobility, such as dystonia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and epilepsy, are unable to safely manipulate a blow torch to hyper-heat a titanium nail and vaporize their concentrates.
WeVape even offers a 50 percent discount to those who break their Aquamizer and order a replacement within 60 days of the purchase of the original unit. Its focus on customer service indicates that the company is intent on cultivating satisfied, return customers.
Check It Out
Consumption options for very sick patients and hard core lifestyle users are good. The ability to evolve beyond the relatively primitive burning of ground cannabis flowers, and all its health risks, via the application of modern mobile technology is an opportunity that should be not ignored. While dabbing is typically considered a youthful activity indulged in only by recreational consumers, patients with a wide range of diseases should seriously consider dabbing and try WeVape’s Aquamizer bubbler powered by the eLeaf battery and Patriot Heating Element. It’s a fully functional mobile dab rig in a sub-$100 package that’s sure to please even the most ardent dabber or pain-ridden patient.
Illinois, which legalized medical cannabis in 2013 and allows patients a relatively liberal 2.5 ounces of the kind herb every 14-days, has been operating its program for just long enough to collect thousands of applications from qualified patients. As such, the state has begun to produce some intelligent metrics that reveal exactly who it is serving and details about their specific needs based on their diseases.
In an eight-page annual report to the state’s Legislature — one of the requirements of the state’s medical law — some initial demographics of those taking advantage of the program have been revealed.
First, the most common profile for a patient of Illinois’ medical cannabis program is a middle aged or older female suffering from fibromyalgia or cancer. The state accepted 3,300 medical applications through the end of June. Sixty percent of those applicants were female, while more than half of applicants were over the age of 51. Other common diseases and conditions among registrants were spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.
Some Illinois doctors seem to be bullish on medical cannabis for their patients and onboard with the program. One has written certifications for more than a thousand patients (and will probably be receiving a visit from the DEA as a result). However, while nearly 1,200 physicians submitted patient certifications, 99 percent of them certified fewer than 24 patients.
Illinois features a longer list of qualifying ailments than many of the U.S. states that permit some form of legal medical cannabis, including conditions not typically covered by other states like lupus, Tourette’s syndrome, and Tarlov cysts. The report noted that, despite its long list of covered ailments, Illinois does not recognize nondisease-specific chronic pain, while also spotlighting the fact that 18 of the 23 states that permit medical cannabis do.
The report states:
“Unlike those states, Illinois does not have a general chronic pain category for which no underlying disease or medical condition is identified.”
The report also noted that, “In Colorado, ‘chronic pain’ accounts for 93 percent of all reported debilitating conditions by patient applicants. In Arizona, 72 percent of patients apply under the ‘chronic pain’ category.”
The program also does not allow home cultivation or reciprocal access to registered patients in other states, but does permit caregivers. The first legal and licensed cannabis dispensaries in the Land of Lincoln are expected to be open and operational by the end of October.
photo credit: DPA