Many patients use marijuana to fight against appetite and weight reduction in relation to hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a liver infection that is spread through the bloodstream and is commonly found among intravenous drug users. It will gradually destroy a person’s liver which makes alcohol a terrible idea for Hepatitis C patients. Of course, they’re also strongly advised to avoid illegal drugs because of the infection’s common link with drug abuse. In any event, marijuana might be helpful with treating hepatitis C. Obviously, marijuana is not injected and therefore won’t promote blood infections. It’s also been reported to keep former drug abusers away from alcohol and much more dangerous drugs like heroin or cocaine.
Regardless, the use of marijuana for hepatitis C continues to be controversial. Patients in liver transplant programs are often required to undergo urine testing to ensure that they are “drug free.” Of course, marijuana will show up on a urine test even if it’s a prescribed medication. Some hepatitis C patients have been known to pass away because they “failed” the drug test and thus could not stay in the transplant program.
Stern traditionalists defend this wanton discrimination based on the assumption that marijuana users, like alcohol and other drug users, have a poor prognosis for survival in light of their liver disease. In contrast, a few recent studies have suggested that there’s a correlation between daily cannabis use and liver fibrosis in hepatitis C patients (Ishisa and Hezode). But, the studies weren’t designed to reveal causality and, thus, might just reflect an inclination for patients with fibrosis to use more cannabis.
More convincingly, a study by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and an Oakland substance abuse clinic found that marijuana use dramatically improved the effectiveness of hepatitis C therapy (Sylvestre). The study was conducted on 71 patients taking two anti-viral drugs—ribavarin and interferon—with severe side effects like nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and depression. The drug regime was so intense and grueling that many patients simply quit. After 6 months, 86% of the patients who used marijuana on a daily basis had successfully completed treatment, versus 59% of those who did not use marijuana. In addition, 54% of the marijuana users showed a ”sustained virological response” with no signs of the virus six months after treatment. Only 18% of those who did not use marijuana achieved this response. The investigators concluded that marijuana probably helped by improving appetite, reducing depression, and helping patients to better tolerate the treatment.