Medical marijuana for hepatitis C has become a topic of increasing interest among patients and healthcare providers alike. As more states legalize medical marijuana and more research is conducted on its potential benefits, many are wondering if it could be an effective treatment option for hepatitis C symptoms. In this blog, we will explore the current research on medical marijuana for hepatitis C and whether it can help alleviate symptoms associated with this viral infection.
What is Hepatitis C?
The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a potent viral infection that poses a significant threat to the liver and can lead to severe damage and inflammation in those infected. This virus is primarily transmitted through contaminated blood, often through sharing needles or receiving blood transfusions.
Globally, an estimated 58 million individuals grapple with the symptoms associated with chronic hepatitis C virus infection, and approximately 1.5 million new infections occur each year. These staggering figures shed light on the scale of the problem, and according to estimates published on WebMD, the true global prevalence of HCV may range from 130 to 175 million people. Furthermore, it is believed that around 2.4 million individuals in the United States alone are affected by this disease, underscoring the urgent need for effective treatments and management strategies.
Hepatitis C Symptoms
Hepatitis C has two main categories: acute and chronic. Sadly, symptoms often go unnoticed, leaving 50% of those infected unaware. Symptoms may even take decades to appear. To combat this, the US Preventive Services Task Force advises hepatitis C screening for all adults aged 18-79, regardless of symptoms. This involves a blood test to detect disease-fighting proteins (antibodies) and may include a second test to measure HCV levels.
People born between 1945 and 1965 of all ethnicities and backgrounds are at the highest risk for HCV, making them five times more susceptible than younger generations. When HCV goes undetected for an extended period, it is classified as chronic. Often referred to as a “silent” infection, this type of HCV frequently results in severe liver damage, with symptoms remaining unnoticed for years.
Symptoms of HCV, which can last for 2-12 weeks, include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, weight loss, fever, and appetite loss. Patients may also experience more severe symptoms such as hepatic encephalopathy, bleeding and bruising easily, abdominal fluid buildup (ascites), skin itchiness, and jaundice.
It’s worth noting that every chronic hepatitis C infection begins with an acute stage. However, not all acute infections progress to the chronic stage. Those diagnosed with HCV may also experience depression, web-like blood vessel blotches on the skin, yellow skin and eyes, fatigue, and weight loss.
Acute HCV symptoms generally appear 1-3 months after the initial exposure to the virus and may last up to three months. Acute symptoms vary depending on the person’s immune system and unique biochemistry. Some individuals who contract acute HCV may experience “spontaneous viral clearance,” a process in which the virus is rapidly eliminated from the body after the acute stage.
Studies of those diagnosed with acute HCV show that spontaneous viral clearance rates range from 15%-25%. In addition, antiviral therapy has been shown to have positive outcomes when administered to patients with acute or chronic hepatitis C.
Does Medical Marijuana For Hepatitis C Help Treat Symptoms?
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a group advocating for legal marijuana access and social justice, reveals that many individuals with HCV find relief in cannabis for their general symptoms. Notably, smoking cannabis has gained popularity among HCV patients.
Interestingly, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology discovered that cannabis use does not directly impact liver biopsy results or the effectiveness of antiviral therapy for hepatitis C. This study analyzed data from 550 patients at The Ottawa Hospital Viral Hepatitis Clinic in Ontario between 2000 and 2009. These findings challenge earlier research from 2008, which suggested that cannabis use led to significant liver scarring in HCV patients. However, it’s important to note that the earlier study had a smaller sample size.
Now, let’s talk about the benefits of medical marijuana for hepatitis C. The Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, which is the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, published research indicating that medical marijuana can help relieve the unpleasant symptoms of hepatitis C. HCV patients have reported that cannabis helps ease common symptoms like nausea, loss of appetite, and depression.
In a study called “Neuroprotection by Cannabinoids in Neurodegenerative Diseases,” scientists discovered that cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, might slow the progression of neuroinflammatory diseases like ALS. They achieve this by interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. Since there’s strong evidence linking HCV infection with the development of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, these findings suggest that cannabis could benefit HCV patients at risk of experiencing complications in their nervous system.
Another study, “Immunoregulatory Role of Cannabinoids During Infectious Disease,” found that moderate cannabis use could help HCV patients stick to their treatment plans by reducing weight loss and relieving nausea. However, it’s essential to be aware that cannabis use may affect the immune system and make individuals more susceptible to certain infections.
More: How to Request Medical Records to Get Your Medical Marijuana Card
Contact Pause Pain & Wellness for Expert Guidance on Medical Marijuana for Hepatitis C
At Pause Pain & Wellness, a leading medical cannabis clinic in Mississippi, we specialize in providing compassionate care and tailored treatment options, including medical marijuana for Hepatitis C patients.
Our dedicated team of healthcare professionals understands the challenges you may face and is here to guide you toward a personalized approach that combines the benefits of medical marijuana with your existing treatment plan. Contact Pause Pain & Wellness today at 833-940-5060 to schedule your consultation with our experienced team.