How Does Medical Marijuana Manage Hepatitis C Symptoms?

Updated on December 10, 2018.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

How Does Medical Marijuana Manage Hepatitis C Symptoms

More and more patients are turning to marijuana as an addition to their treatment. As a flexible drug, cannabis can deal with multiple symptoms at once with minor side effects.

Hepatitis C patients can receive legal medical marijuana in certain states due to its suitability for the disease’s symptoms.

Hepatitis C and Its Symptoms

The hepatitis C virus spreads via blood. It damages the liver, leading to scarring, cancer and sometimes total failure. But, physicians can resolve it in a few months if caught early enough.

However, most medications for hepatitis C make it difficult to stick to a full dosage plan. The side effects they cause make recovery a challenge for many patients. So, anything that can reduce these symptoms or serve some of the purposes of hepatitis C medicine can make the regimen much more effective.

Common hepatitis C symptoms treatable with medical marijuana include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Significant weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

Symptom #1: Fatigue

While we tend to think of marijuana as a drug that only sedates you, some strains energize you instead. A type of marijuana strain called sativa can serve as a stimulant for patients worn out from fighting their hepatitis C infection. Conversely, if you feel tired from your symptoms keeping you up at night, indica strains provide the more commonly known sedative effect.

Symptom #2: Aches and Pains

Many medical marijuana-friendly states have chronic pain on their list of health issues approved for weed use. A lot of research in the medical marijuana field supports the pain relieving qualities of medicinal cannabis. So, if the area near your liver hurts from liver damage, pot can reduce it without the negative side effects or addictive quality of painkillers.

Symptom #3: Inflammation and Swelling

Marijuana’s effect on the immune system can help hepatitis C patients handle liver inflammation. While it tends to suppress the immune system, that can be a good thing if you need to reduce inflammation. Since inflammation serves as an immune response, inhibiting the immune system’s ability to send inflammation signals reduces the inflammation itself.

Symptom #4: Weight Loss

We use our livers as part of the digestion process, so having an infection like hepatitis C affects it ability to process food. Combined with the toll it takes on the body, hepatitis C may result in significant weight loss. By increasing your appetite, weed helps you eat more, helping you get more nutrients in your body to maintain your weight.

Symptom #5: Nausea

Hepatitis C itself doesn’t make you feel nauseous, but typical hepatitis C treatments like interferon do. Since hepatitis C already lowers your appetite and causes major weight loss, adding nausea to the mix makes it even harder to get the right nutrients. Marijuana has a reputation for settling patients’ stomachs.

Supplementing Other Hepatitis C Treatments

As mentioned earlier, hepatitis C medicines have severe side effects that prevent some patients from finishing their regimen. Some of these side effects include:

  • Mood Issues: Depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Energy Issues: Insomnia, fatigue, etc.
  • Flu-Like Symptoms: Chills, headache, fever, etc.
  • Digestive Issues: Diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, etc.
  • Skin Problems: Rashes, sensitivity to sunlight, itching, etc.
  • Low blood cell counts

Using marijuana to counteract some of these side effects aid patients in taking all the medication prescribed to them. It relieves digestive issues, mood issues and energy issues, which provides a good foundation for the rest of the body to recover.

To conduct more research on the benefits of weed for hepatitis C, read our condition guide.

Additional Hepatitis C & Cannabis Resources

For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Hepatitis C, check out our resources: