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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?

Regaining liver health, and wellness in general, is of great concern for those who have achieved SVR. Before successfully completing Hepatitis C treatment, the liver may have been damaged by the virus. For some, this damage is reversible – but for others, there may be permanent liver injury. Thus, taking extra special care of the liver once the virus has cleared is a top priority for those who finally test Hepatitis C negative.

Marijuana Is a Source of Controversy

Marijuana’s impact on liver health remains largely unknown. Marijuana has an interesting history of medicinal and recreational use, and is a source of great controversy. Its legality aside, the controversy extends into its benefit or detriment to the liver:

  • As published in a 2008 edition of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers found that daily marijuana use was strongly associated with moderate to severe liver fibrosis (scarring). The authors advised that those with Hepatitis C be counseled to reduce or abstain from marijuana use.
  • As published in a 2013 edition of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers found no evidence for an association between marijuana smoking and significant liver fibrosis progression in those co-infected with Hepatitis C and HIV.
  • As published in a 2014 edition of the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers found that marijuana use did not influence histology of the liver, nor did it change the outcome of Hepatitis C treatment.
  • In a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, researchers found that the active ingredients in marijuana seem to suppress the immune system and encourage liver injury.

The four studies briefly described above confirm the controversy; there is no definitive understanding of marijuana’s impact on the liver.

Page 1 2 3

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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HepatitisCentral.com provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at HepatitisCentral.com will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.

  • General Manifesto

    What a nothing article. Wasted ink.

    • Kathleen Dunham

      It was generally helpful in showing that for every pro there is a con.

  • I agree. This article was a waste of time and just FUI, anyone knows that inhaling smoke isn’t the best way to consume cannibus if you want utilize the most healthy alternative way of consuming it. The author obviously is unaware of vaping and/ or taking it in an herbal tincture, tea, or eating it. I don’t even know what her point was because I’m sure cannibus is safer than just about any pharmaceutical on the market.

    • madjik68

      Exactly what i was thinking.

    • This is not the point of the article. The point is hepatitis C will weaken your liver, is it safe to consume drugs after a remission? It doesn’t matter if you smoke it or eat it, your liver will still have to deal with the drug. Are you stupid or what

      • Jazzman

        Here Here I concur ……………………….
        Are you mentally retarded ?

    • oldsojer

      I agree

  • Ariel Gail [email protected]

    Why don’t otherwise high-quality articles and credible authors such as these, notate the obvious conflict of interest when avoiding the question of SMOKING MARIJUANA VS. CBD OIL, EDIBLES, OR SMOKELESS SYSTEMS?? The elephant in the room that no one ever addresses is that SMOKING ANYTHING is damaging to all disease processes, damages all organs, accelerates all medical conditions, reduces longevity and diminishes positive treatment outcomes of any type.

  • Salvador Peña

    Is Harvoni going to be available for minority people or people on medicare

    • madjik68

      Excellent question…I’d like to know the answer to that too. I’ve been putting of treatment waiting for something better to come along. Now that we apparently have better treatments, I cannot afford it. I mean who can afford $1000.00/pill.

      • Ana

        Madjik,You should not let the cost discourage you from trying your best to get approved. Talk to your hepatologist, they’ll help you. I got approved to my surprise and got rid of the damn thing! My co-payment for 3 mos. was $30.

        • madjik68

          Thanks for the encouragement Ana. I will be seeing my hepatologist in August and try to move forward treating this disease.

      • Tricky Vicky

        1125 a pill
        I have been on harvoni for twelve weeks today and it has been undetected in my blood since four weeks
        I’ve had liver transplant and I smoke daily and doing great!

      • Lea Block

        Third time was the charm for me. The first 2 treatments lasted 10 and 13 months. 3rd treatment Sovaldi was added. I took it with interferon and ribivirin for 3 months and was cured. It’s been close to a year and half.

    • Lani Brown Goodman

      My husband is on medicare and disability he has compelted his treatment of Harvin I last month. So go for it. There is also subsistence out there. We did not have to pay because of financial situation.

      • Salvador Peña

        This so good to know I’m disabled too and this year I’m up for treatment I had to wait a year for this appointment thank you Lani Brown Goodman God bless

    • dan

      Call Gilead’s support path program . Just Google it and call they aree very helpful to get the med at no cost. They saved my life my friend’s prayed Jesus did the rest I am svr for 6 months after last dose of SOVALDI AND RIBAVIRIN FOR 24 weeks. I had to make the call, your doctor will not do it, JESUS will help you. I feel great and put on 25 lbs.

    • MindFury

      As long you don’t have Molina healthcare, or live in New Mexico. They have treated one person since it came out and have no clue, so they use other states “qualifications” and death panel to decide if you actually even need it.

      • Salvador Peña

        I’ll find out soon enough I have a ultra sound tmmrrw then we talk treatment my labs came back saying hep c has advanced so we’ll see I’ll post the second I find out

  • David Pieper

    Its not helpful to associate the harms from alcohol and marijuana in the same paragraph. Alcohol is the single biggest cause of damage to the liver, before or after hep C treatment. Smoking damages the lungs whether it is tobacco or marijuana, but can provide a useful alternative to drinking alcohol for people with hep C, who should cut out alcohol as much as possible.

    • Ana

      I agree that you can’t compare alcohol and marijuana as to the harm on the liver. However, smoking tobacco or marijuana *are not equally harmful*. The substances in tobacco are toxic and carcinogenic, whereas cannabis has anti-cancer qualities —not the same! There is research that it even protects tobacco smokers’ lungs if they also smoke marijuana.

      Also, no one should have to smoke anymore, there are many portable vapes available on the market.

  • Tad Carter

    Thanks Nicole for writing this balanced article . My recollection of the quoted one instance of recommended marijuana abstinence by HepC carriers was actually only one researcher and one paper.. “As published in a 2008 edition of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology
    and Hepatology, researchers found that daily marijuana use was strongly
    associated with moderate to severe liver fibrosis (scarring). The
    authors advised that those with Hepatitis C be counseled to reduce or
    abstain from marijuana use.”

    I would think only slim evidence for most folks . .

  • ciercee

    What evidence do they have to suggest that marijuana has any effect on the liver at all? They were just filling the whitespace with letters.

    • Mary Gastineau-Stout

      Same thing that I wondered? I dont see how it affects the liver???

  • Jazzman

    I think this has been discussed before.
    I have had hepatitis genotype 3A for 40 years.
    I used to abuse drugs and drank like a fish for years.
    I gave up both in 1996.
    I think i have Parkinson’s Disease.
    Normal aging issues…………..

    Never mind about cirrhosis of the liver for a second…………

    My question for some of you people is when are you going to learn ?
    When are you going to grow up ?
    Do some of you people have a death wish ?

    • madjik68

      I don’t think anyone has a death wish. I’m glad you got off the booze and drugs…Congrats! But it’s a fact that cannabis helps a lot of people, and is less toxic than aspirin. I use it to help fend of neuropathic nerve pain, as well as, PTSD . Also smoking anything is bad for you, so my methods for ingesting cannabis is to use a vaporizer, and or cannabutter.

  • oldsojer

    The VA gave me a 48 week treatment in 2004 & in 6 months it came back then I had another 48 Week treatment in 2013 & Hep C came back in 6 months, then I had the new treatment in 2015 from Jan. to April, I had 3 month check & still clear I,m hoping it will still be gone at my 6 month check. I was wounded in 1972 Vietnam & given blood transfusion . VA thinks that is how I got Hep C. I was gene o type1/ stage 2

  • Donald Grube

    I have been a cannibis user for 45 years. Type 1a Hep C for 30 years. It took a year of tests and consultation to get 3 months of Harvoni. Thanks to Gilead and my MAP program at Partnership Health,my cost was $15. I was undetectable at 8&12 weeks..still to this day. I used marijuana during treatment and will probably continue until the day I die! I am 63 years old looking forward to living the rest of my years Hepatitis free. There are no words to truly express my gratitude for NOT facing the horrible death by liver failure that would have been my destiny. I am a libertarian and believe that ALL drugs should be legal,accessable to any free adult without fear of persecution or prosecution. I further believe that the only way to begin reversing global warming is to plant hemp and cannibis in every possible location worldwide. I personally do not believe that my many years of marijuana use had any harmful effect upon my liver. WE simply must have some truly new research into all aspects of marijuana. Donot let contempt prior to investigation keep us in ignorance.

  • tonydfixer

    Well our bodies have it’s own cannabinoid system, it is part of our immune system. We make our own cannabinoids in our body. I don’t see how putting a little more in, would do any harm. As long as the body is matured, and there is no signs of ill effects, or intolerance.

  • tonydfixer

    Medical mistakes, as of 5 May 2016 is the number 3 killer in the USA.

  • JW

    Geez all these comments are old. Meaning H. Central sent me an article that’s 13+ months old. In the article it’s advocating the herb that is not to be taken prior to treatment with Harvoni, I believe it ruins the option to be treated with Harvoni. If anyone can share a link with a up to date site, with good information and possibly current community sharing in a forum, it be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • John Petzold

    @ Carolina A. Please finish your rant when you’ve obtained a P.H.D. BOTANICAL pharmacology and virology! I swear everyone I know that smoke Pot thinks they P.H.D OR NOBEL LARIAT CANDIDATES FOR THEIR MARIJUANA HEALTH INSIGHT, I SMOKE SOCIALLY BUT I DON’T OVER ADVICE ON SOMETHING I’M NOT TRAINED AS A CLINICIAN IN. P.S. PLEASE FORGIVE MY GRAMMAR, ANYWAY THE POINT OF THE ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUS AND NOT HUI, IT SPEAKS TO THE FACT THAT there are two sides to everything treatment options and studies as well asv the fact that with regards to this particular topic of clinical studies, we collectively don’t know our a$$ from a hole in the ground!!!!!!

  • sherrie

    “Gray area” ? ” source of controversy” ? Despite the fact that you do , later in the article, hint at research association between pot use & liver scarring, we would do well to advocate for avoiding pot,due to it’s well documented adverse health effects. Thanks in advance for future support of healthy habits.~!