Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Although hepatitis C can result in major liver damage, it can also be quickly and easily treated when detected as soon as symptoms appear. But, the medicine for it often causes side effects like digestive issues and loss of blood cells.
As we research the effects of medical marijuana, we find more ways it can help patients feel better. Many studies support the idea that medical marijuana can provide nausea relief. Plus, a lot of the states that allow medical cannabis approve weed for nausea.
Reducing the nausea caused by hepatitis C lets the patient continue their medication and maintain a healthy weight.
The hepatitis C virus infects your liver, damaging your liver tissue. This damage can result in cirrhosis (scarring), liver failure or liver cancer. Since the liver filters out toxins, having a damaged liver can result in symptoms that affect the entire body.
So, when doctors discover someone has hepatitis C, they try to address it as soon as possible. Many early cases of hepatitis C, or acute hepatitis C, develop into chronic hepatitis C, which has many more risks.
While we’ve progressed far enough to lower the side effects caused by hepatitis C medicine, they still cause severe side effects.
We commonly use a drug called interferon for hepatitis C. However, it has the most numerous and severe side effects, preventing many people with the disease from finishing the entire regimen. One of the issues it can cause is nausea.
If interferon doesn’t work for you — or your doctor prefers not to use it — you may receive a direct-acting antiviral drug. Direct-acting antiviral drugs include Harvoni, ribavirin, olysio, solvaldi, vekira pak, ritonavir, dasabuvir, paritaprevir, ombitasivir and zepatier. All these drugs are known to cause nausea, except for zepatier.
So, if you can’t deal with severe nausea and zepatier doesn’t work, what do you do?
Patients who need nausea relief to use hepatitis C medication could benefit from supplementing their medication with a dose of medical marijuana. It can complement hepatitis C drugs in ways that other drugs can’t.
As a natural medicine, weed doesn’t have as much potential to clash with manufactured ones. You and your doctor may have to gradually incorporate cannabis into your medical plan to ensure it doesn’t interact with your other meds, but it isn’t known for severely harming people when combined with other medication.
In addition, nausea is one of the most common symptoms treated with medical marijuana. Although the federal government bans marijuana use, it approves synthetic cannabinoids. Even the officials who prohibit medical marijuana understand its effectiveness for nausea.
A hepatitis C-related symptom that often works closely with nausea is a lack of appetite. When you have hepatitis C, it often reduces your appetite to the point that you begin to lose weight significantly. Both nausea and appetite issues make it difficult to stay at a healthy weight and give your body the nutrition it needs to fight your infection.
Fortunately, medical cannabis improves your appetite in addition to soothing stomach issues. By tackling both symptoms, medical marijuana can help you stay on a healthy diet.
Each strain of marijuana has its own properties that suit certain symptoms. To get the greatest nausea relief from weed, make sure you choose the right strain. Since there are thousands of cannabis strains out there, we can’t list every single one that’s useful for treating nausea. Generally, indica strains work better than sativa strains for nausea relief. When in doubt, ask the staff at your dispensary to help you decide.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Hepatitis C, check out our resources: