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Marijuana After Clearing Hepatitis C

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. June 30, 2015

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Is it safe to use marijuana after successfully clearing the Hepatitis C virus?

Thanks to the new antiviral medications now available, more people than ever have been lucky enough to clear their body of the Hepatitis C virus. Although such an achievement demands celebration, many are unsure what being cured of Hepatitis C means to the health of their liver – including whether or not they can use marijuana safely.

Obvious detriments to the liver, such as alcohol, are highly cautioned against after clearing Hepatitis C. Nonetheless, the effect on liver health is not clear for every substance. Regardless of its legality or use for medicinal purposes, marijuana is a popular drug among people of all age groups. Unfortunately, the impact marijuana has on liver health occupies a gray area – making those who have cleared Hepatitis C unsure of its potential effect on their liver.

Any harm incurred to the liver from Hepatitis C infection may leave this organ at a disadvantage; thus taking care of the liver is important even after being cleared of this virus.

The ideal outcome for Hepatitis C treatment is to have a sustained viral response (SVR). This means that Hepatitis C is not detectable in the blood for at least six months after the last treatment dose. Studies report that once patients achieve SVR, they have a 99.2 to 100 percent chance of remaining free of the virus. If it does return, experts believe it is due to Hepatitis C re-exposure. Because of this small amount of uncertainty, many avoid using the word cure.

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http://blogs.hepmag.com/lucindakporter/2015/02/hepatitis_c_treatment_svr.html, Hepatitis C SVR12 vs SVR24: Trusting That We Are Truly Cured, Lucinda K. Porter, RN, Retrieved June 21, 2015, Smart +Strong, 2015.

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/07/03/cid.cit378.long, Marijuana Smoking Does Not Accelerate Progression of Liver Disease in HIV–Hepatitis C Coinfection: A Longitudinal Cohort Analysis, L Brunet, et al, Retrieved June 21, 2015, Clinical Infectious Diseases, June 2013.

http://hcvadvocate.org/hepatitis/factsheets_pdf/HCV_Neg.pdf, HCV Negative, Lucinda K. Porter, RN, Retrieved June 21, 2015, Hepatitis C Support Project, 2015.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144456/, Marijuana use in hepatitis C infection does not affect liver biopsy histology or treatment outcomes, Theresa Liu, MD, et al, Retrieved June 21, 2015, Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, July-August 2014.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18166478, Influence of cannabis use on severity of hepatitis C disease, Ishida JH, et al, Retrieved June 21, 2015, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, January 2008.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24689101, Recreational drugs: a new health hazard for patients with concomitant chronic liver diseases, Tarantino G, et al, Retrieved June 21, 2015, Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, March 2014.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25826533, Elevated levels of endocannabinoids in chronic hepatitis C may modulate cellular immune response and hepatic stellate cell activation, Patsenker E, et al, Retrieved June 21, 2015, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, March 2015.

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