How Can Medical Marijuana Help with Hep C Treatment Side Effects?

By   |  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya  |  July 13, 2022  

Are you a hepatitis C (Hep C) patient experiencing side effects such as fatigue, nausea, and pain because of your treatment? If so, medical marijuana can be a godsend. Moreover, if you are currently struggling with adhering to your Hep C treatment, read on and learn why medicinal cannabis may suit you.

side effects of hep c treatment that medical marijuana can help with

Hep C treatment side effects.

Different medications and treatments exist for Hep C, and the best option for an individual will depend on several factors. For example, the severity of one’s illness and personal preferences. However, regardless of the treatment, there are common side effects to watch out for:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble falling asleep/ Insomnia
  • Rash
  • Reddened, itchy skin
  • Swollen throat, face, tongue, lips, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Flu-like symptoms (headache, fatigue, fever, chills, muscle aches)
  • Arthritis-like pain in back, joints
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Low red blood cell counts
  • Hair loss

Consult with your doctor or a Hep C specialist first if either of the side effects highlighted above seems familiar. They can adjust your medication accordingly and prepare you for potential side effects.

Hep C medication side effects that medical marijuana can ease.

side effects of hep c treatment that medical marijuana can help with

The healing process takes time plus effort. And adhering to your hepatitis C medication is essential for your recovery. Unfortunately, while current Hep C treatments are effective, they are often accompanied by plenty of unpleasant side effects.

Fortunately, there are many Hep C treatment side effects that medical marijuana can alleviate. One of the most common side effects is fatigue, which can be debilitating for those who experience it. Medical marijuana is effective in reducing fatigue, as well as pain and nausea.

Additionally, it can help to improve appetite and sleep patterns. Another common side effect of Hep C medication is anxiety. In some cases, anxiety can be so severe that it leads to panic attacks. Medicinal cannabis effectively reduces anxiety and panic attacks even in extreme instances such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Finally, medical marijuana can also help reduce the risk of Hep C-related liver cancer. Although medical marijuana may not cure hepatitis C, it does play a mitigating role in managing the side effects of treatment and improving the quality of life for those affected by the disease.

How should hepatitis C patients take medical marijuana?

Although cannabis contains numerous chemicals, two compounds take the spotlight. CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, and THC, the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” associated with marijuana use. 

Products that are high in CBD and low in THC are typically best tolerated by patients with hepatitis C, as they are less likely to cause adverse side effects. For this reason, patients often go for cannabis kief owing to its high CBD content and potency. 

Additionally, vaporizing or using topical forms of marijuana may also be preferable to smoking. Ultimately, patients may need to experiment with different strains and forms of medicinal cannabis to find what works best for them.

And what is best for hepatitis C, Indica, or Sativa? Generally, both are effective depending on what you hope to gain. For instance, Indicas are great for relaxation and improving sleep, while Sativa strains increase energy levels hence battling fatigue. Still, it is always vital to consult with a medical marijuana doctor before starting a new cannabis regimen.

Marijuana and the liver

Hepatitis C is a disease that affects the liver, so it is essential to understand the effect marijuana has on this organ. However, studies on the effects of marijuana on the liver are scarce. Additionally, the conclusions from available studies are contradictory. 

Igor Koturbash, MD, Ph.D., did a study on mice seeking to investigate the effects of CBD on the liver. The result of the study revealed that patients using CBD risk liver damage over time. 

Similarly, the text, Role of Cannabinoids in Chronic Liver Diseases, revealed that cannabis could aggravate liver fibrosis in animal studies and cellular cultures.

However, a study by  Dr. Adeyinka Charles Adejumo et al. suggested that cannabis use may mitigate the disease outcomes, for instance, liver cirrhosis, among HCV-infected individuals. 

Because of the divergent ideas and potential risks, consulting with a medical marijuana doctor is essential before taking medicinal cannabis for hepatitis C. 

With Quick Med Cards, you can consult with one of our professional MMJ doctors, who are just a video call away. Begin by scheduling an appointment with one of our experienced cannabis doctors today for your medical marijuana card and a personalized cannabis regimen.

Can you get hepatitis C from smoking after someone or sharing a joint?

The likelihood of contracting hepatitis C from sharing a joint or smoking after someone is relatively low, but it is still possible. Hep C-positive patients cannot transmit the virus through saliva or other respiratory secretions. Getting infected would need you to come into contact with contaminated blood, for instance, by sharing needles or other injected drugs with a patient. As a result, there is no need to worry about contracting hepatitis C from casual contact with someone with the disease.

group of friends sharing a joint

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is a blood-borne virus spread through contact with infected blood. If left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to serious health problems such as liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Although there is no cure for hepatitis C, there are treatments that can improve the chances of recovery.

Is hepatitis C an STD–Can you get hepatitis C from sex?

No, hepatitis C is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with infected blood. Often, this can happen through sharing needles or other equipment when injecting drugs. Or from exposure to contaminated blood in a healthcare setting. And while hepatitis C can also spread through sexual contact, it is much less common.

Hepatitis C warning signs

Hepatitis C is a silent disease because it doesn’t cause symptoms until the liver is severely damaged. That’s why it’s necessary to be aware of the hepatitis C warning signs so you can get treatment as soon as possible. 

The hepatitis C warning signs include

  • fatigue, 
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), 
  • dark urine, 
  • abdominal pain, 
  • and nausea. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Hepatitis C is treatable with antiviral medications. But it’s important to catch it early to maximize the chances of successful treatment.

Hepatitis C symptoms in females

Woman experiencing abdominal pain

Since HCV is a blood-borne virus, it is present in a woman’s menstrual blood if she is infected. As a result, it is one of the rare situations in which sexual transmission of hepatitis C is possible between heterosexual couples.

The most common Hep C symptoms in females are 

  • fatigue, 
  • nausea, 
  • poor appetite, 
  • and abdominal pain. 

Other symptoms reported in women include 

  • joint pain,
  • itchy skin, 
  • dark urine, 
  • clay-colored bowel movements, 
  • and yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice). 

If you think you may have Hep C, urgently see a healthcare provider for a blood test. 

Is there a vaccine for hepatitis C?

There is currently no vaccine available for hepatitis C. Unfortunately, developing a vaccine is not easy since the hepatitis C virus is constantly changing, which makes it challenging to create immunization. Additionally, since HCV spreads through blood, it is hard to test potential vaccines. Despite these challenges, researchers remain hopeful. In the meantime, avoiding contact with contaminated blood is the best way to prevent infection.

Cirrhosis and hepatitis C

Cirrhosis is a chronic liver disease in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. And hepatitis C is one of many factors, for example, alcohol abuse and fatty liver disease that cause cirrhosis. According to the CDC, about 5% – 25% of people with hepatitis c will develop cirrhosis over time. Cirrhosis is a severe condition that can lead to liver failure, intestinal bleeding, and death. So, if you have hepatitis C, it is vital to get treatment to prevent the progression of the disease. Most importantly, avoid alcohol and other substances that can damage your liver.

Hepatitis C facts

Below are interesting facts about hepatitis C.

What is the difference between hepatitis A, B, and C?

There are three main types of viral hepatitis–hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Although they all have similar symptoms and can cause liver damage, they are different diseases. 

Hepatitis A is usually spread through contaminated food or water and can spread through contact with an infected person. Hepatitis A does not typically lead to chronic liver disease, and most people who contract it can make a full recovery. 

Hepatitis B is more serious than hepatitis A and can lead to chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Often, it spreads through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. Additionally, a mother can pass it to their child during childbirth. There is no cure for hepatitis B, but medication can keep it under control. 

Hepatitis C is the most severe type of viral hepatitis and is the leading cause of liver cancer in the United States. It is typically spread through contact with infected blood and can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth. There is no cure for hepatitis C, but it is treatable.

Can hepatitis C spread through sweat?

There is currently no evidence that hepatitis C can spread through sweat. And there is no reason to believe that it would contain enough of the virus to make it infectious. Generally, the virus advances through contact with blood. Still, adhering to proper hygiene in the presence of bodily fluids of an infected person is necessary. 

Is hepatitis C contagious by touch?

While many people know that hepatitis C is a deadly and contagious liver disease, there is still a lot of confusion about how it is transmitted. One of the most common questions is whether or not hepatitis C is contagious by touch. The answer is no; you cannot get hepatitis C by touch. The HCV virus spreads through contact with blood. So, it is possible to contract the disease if you come into contact with infected blood. However, touching, hugging, or shaking hands with a hepatitis C patient will not cause you to become infected. If you have any concerns about your risk of exposure to the virus, it is vital to speak to a healthcare provider.

When was hepatitis C discovered?

Scientists working for Chiron, a biotechnology company in California, and investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), identified the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in 1989. This monumental medical discovery paved the way for the development of tests to detect HCV, which were applied to screen blood donations. Thus, effectively wiping out HCV from the blood transfusion supply.

Is hepatitis C herpes?

There is a lot of confusion about whether hepatitis C is the same as herpes. The simple answer is no; they are not the same thing. Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver and can cause critical damage. Herpes is a virus that can cause sores around the mouth or genitals. Both viruses are highly contagious and can spread through sexual contact, but they are not the same. So, if you have hepatitis C, you do not have herpes, and vice versa. However, both viruses have no cure and can cause lifelong problems.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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