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Marijuana After Clearing Hepatitis C

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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.

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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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