The viral disease, Hepatitis C (HCV), is an inflammatory disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis virus. As a virus that is transported by blood and passed on by injection activity considered dangerous, HCV is also contracted by engaging in sex that is unguarded with a person that is already infected1.
Patients with HCV infection which is categorized as chronic (long-term) may experience some of these common symptoms2:
- Easy bruising
- Stools that resemble clay in color
- Yellow jaundiced eyes and skin
- Itching in skin
- Diminished appetite
- Loss of weight
- Urine that is dark in color
- Leg swelling
- Blood vessels that are spider-like in appearance on the skin
- Abdominal buildup of fluid
- Esophageal dilation of the veins
- Slurring of speech, feelings of drowsiness and mental confusion
While the majority of patients don’t readily exhibit the symptoms listed above, blood tests that are typically performed during routine physicals can reveal the presence of hepatitis C. But because the infection could have been present for years before being detected, it may have affected the liver by leaving it scarred permanently. So, symptoms may not appear until cirrhosis of the liver has developed3.
Treatments for Hepatitis C can include interferon medications, but negative side effects can occur with their use. Most treatments now center around the use of antiviral drugs that act directly on the illness with less negative side effects. And although prescribed medications are able to help the body recover, a combination of established treatments and medical cannabis can be very effective in providing relief from symptoms4.
Symptoms Treated by Cannabis
- Fatigue – An energizing strain of marijuana called sativa can help with symptoms of fatigue brought on by the weakening effects of fighting hepatitis C. Sativa acts as a stimulant that can enhance mood, improve mental focus and boost physical stamina.
- Inflammation and Pain – The Indica strain of marijuana has high amounts of THC which provides strong sedative relief to help achieve more restful sleep. Marijuana strains that are Indica-dominant help promote a feeling of relaxation to help induce sleep and contribute to the treatment of sleep disorders, anxious feelings and pain of a physical nature5.
- Weight Loss – The liver helps with digestion, but hepatitis C can interrupt its food processing capability. With the help of the properties found in medical cannabis, a patient’s appetite can be increased to improve the desire to eat and receive more essential nutrients that can help maintain proper weight6.
- Nausea – Standard treatments for hepatitis C such as interferon can cause nausea, which has a negative effect on the appetite. In turn, significant weight loss can occur easily which interrupts the body’s intake of proper nutrients. The indica strain of marijuana is often a go-to treatment that helps relax stomach muscles to diminish nausea and help keep food down.
- Swelling Legs – The immune system can send signals to tissue that can incite swelling in the legs as a response, but medical marijuana acts as a suppressor to tissue that’s affected by HCV. Indica strains of marijuana can help subdue the immune system’s signals that cause swelling, reversing the effect. Other immune dysfunctions such as lupus can also be impacted by the positive effects of medical marijuana7.
It takes some hit and miss efforts to land on the right medical cannabis treatment for hepatitis C, and with the assistance and expertise of a medical cannabis doctor, a beneficial plan can be put together that helps your specific treatment needs. Even though research is in its beginning stages, the preliminary findings hold promise for the use of medical marijuana as a viable additional treatment option.
Once you find the right balance of medical cannabis to supplement your prescribed drug treatments—which could mean starting off with small amounts of marijuana to gauge their effects against standard medications, you can seek out a medical marijuana dispensary that can work with you to provide you with the right dosage, form, and drug administration guidance you’ll need to ensure you’re getting the full benefits of a personal medical cannabis treatment plan.