Almost four million Americans have chronic Hepatitis C, a debilitating inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, and while Arizona allows the use of medical marijuana for the ailment, the issue is still being debated in some states.
The debate might be based on faulty conclusions.
Hepatitis C, which is usually spread through contact with infected blood, causes severe fatigue and joint pain and can lead to depression, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Up to 30 percent of patients with Hepatitis C are also co-infected with HIV.
Infections often happen through the use of shared needles, needle or instrument injuries in medical settings, unprotected sex, from a mother to her unborn child. Before 1992, when blood screening became available, blood transfusions were a common vehicle for infection. Acute HCV infection occurs within the first six months, often leading to chronic infection.
Much of the debate over the use of medical marijuana to treat hepatitis stems from a 2004 a report which found daily marijuana smoking to be associated with the development of significant hepatic fibrosis (excessive tissue build up) progression in Hepatitis C patients.
That sounds like pretty damning evidence, but when some scientists took a closer look, they found the results may be biased by reverse causality – most patients in the end stages were using marijuana daily to deal with pain and medication side effects – and the increase in fibrosis may not have been caused by cannabis. This was confirmed in 2013, in a study based on patients co-infected with the HIV and Hepatitis. Over 700 patients participated, and no direct correlation was found linking marijuana use to increased fibrosis.
“… the association of daily cannabis use and more advanced fibrosis may, in fact, be related to an increased use for symptom management as disease advances,” the new study reported.
Treatment of Hepatitis involves months of drug therapy with severe side effects, including extreme fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite and depression. For many, the side effects are too debilitating, treatment is abandoned, and the virus destroys the patient’s liver. Medical marijuana has been found to be effective to help with ALL of these issues:
- Nausea, muscle aches (spasticity) and loss of appetite (cachexia) are all covered conditions under most state medical marijuana programs, including Arizona.
- While depression is not yet covered, an exciting study came out that shows a decrease in suicide rates in Colorado since the inception of their medical marijuana program. A 5 percent reduction overall was reported, with an 11 percent reduction among thiose age 20-29 and 9 percent in the 30-39 age group.
- Extreme fatigue can be eased by a good Sativa or Sativa hybrid.
A knowledgeable patient consultant can help choose a strain that will provide the most benefit.
– Mrs. X