Ohio Medical Marijuana Patients Can Find Relief From Hep C
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and can often lead to serious liver damage. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 3 million Americans are living with Hepatitis C. Like many illnesses, viruses and conditions, some people are turning to medical marijuana to help alleviate the symptoms of chronic HCV infection and the unpleasant side effects associated with HCV medications.
Although the effects of medical cannabis on Hepatitis C continue to be studied and researched, patients with HCV often experience positive results while using medical marijuana.
What is Hepatitis C (HCV)?
Hepatitis C, a viral disease most often spread through contaminated blood, causes
inflammation of the liver (Hepatitis). For some, the body may clear the virus in a matter of
weeks. Others may not experience symptoms for decades and never know they are infected.
And some may suffer from the condition chronically and experience significant damage to their liver or other serious medical problems.
Symptoms of acute Hepatitis C include:
● Dark urine
● Clay-colored stool
● Abdominal pain
● Loss of appetite
● Joint pain
However up to 80 percent of people with chronic HCV experience no symptoms at all. Some will manifest chronic fatigue and depression and others will go on to develop diabetes, kidney disease, more severe liver disease including cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Blood tests can confirm the presence of antibodies to the virus (anti-HVC) and HCV particles (HCV RNA).
How Does Marijuana Help Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
The two main cannabinoids found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC), bind with the body’s receptors (CB1 and CB2). Activation of the CB2 receptor creates an anti-inflammatory effect in your liver that decreases the severity of HCV symptoms.
That said, marijuana alone does not treat or cure Hepatitis C and is encouraged to be used in tandem with your prescribed medications. It also does not treat the complications that lead to liver disease and cirrhosis – although some research has shown that cannabis can
have therapeutic effects for people with chronic liver diseases. However, evidence suggests
that marijuana helps HCV patients with the side effects that come from the medications used to treat the virus.
What Hepatitis C Symptoms Does Marijuana Treat?
Antiviral medications are used to treat Hepatitis C and are typically taken anywhere from eight
to 12 weeks. While taking these medications, patients often experience their unpleasant side
effects such as:
● Poor appetite
● Significant weight loss
● Nausea or vomiting
Because of these symptoms, people living with Hepatitis C often seek out alternative methods,
like medical marijuana, to manage the side effects of the treatment. In turn, patients are also
more likely to adhere to their treatment plans, causing them to be less likely to develop more
serious, long-term liver diseases.
For example, cannabinoids, chemical compounds found within marijuana, are known to help
combat nausea caused by pharmaceuticals. And in addition to easing the side effects of
treatment, cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has anti-inflammatory effects that may
help individuals with chronic liver diseases.
Is Medical Marijuana for Hepatitis C an Option in Your State?
The good news is, people living with Hepatitis C in Ohio can access medical marijuana to help
ease the symptoms of the disease.
In three easy steps, you can be on the road to reduce the burden of the disease.
Step 1: Schedule an appointment with a marijuana doctor
Step 2: Complete your patient intake form and upload your medical records confirming
Step 3: With the doctor’s recommendation, you will receive your card from the Ohio State
Board of Pharmacy.
Speaking with a Doctor
Research on marijuana as a treatment for HCV is still it the early stages, but initial responses
have been positive. If you feel that marijuana as a treatment for your HCV sounds promising,
discuss its use with a physician. Living with HCV and its side effects can be discouraging, but
medical marijuana use is a promising tool to combat symptoms of the disease and prescription side-effects.
In honor of World Hepatitis Day, check out our Instagram post and share to raise awareness!