Marijuana And Hepatitis C


Diana L. Sylvestre, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, et al. stated in their October 2006 article “Cannabis Use Improves Retention and Virological Outcomes in Patients Treated for Hepatitis C,” published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology (18(10):1057-1063):

“Our results suggest that modest cannabis use may offer symptomatic and virological benefit to some patients undergoing HCV treatment by helping them maintain adherence to the challenging medication regimen.”
October 2006 Diana L. Sylvestre

Benedikt Fischer, Ph.D., Director of the Illicit Drugs, Public Health and Policy Unit at the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria, and Jens Reimer, M.D., a Research Psychiatrist at the Center for Interdisciplinary Addiction Research at the University of Hamburg, et al., stated in their October 2006 article “Treatment for Hepatitis C Virus and Cannabis Use in Illicit Drug User Patients: Implications and Questions,” published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology (18(10):1057-1063):

“In fact, there is substantial evidence that cannabis use may help address key challenges faced by drug users in HCV treatment (e.g., nausea, depression), especially when such treatment occurs in the context of methadone maintenance treatment which may amplify these consequences.

While further research is required on the biological and clinical aspects of the benefits of cannabis use for HCV treatment, and the effectiveness of cannabis use for HCV treatment needs to be explored in larger study populations, we advocate that in the interim existing barriers to cannabis use are removed for drug users undergoing HCV treatment until the conclusive empirical basis for evidence-based guidance is available.”
October 2006 Benedikt Fischer and Jens Reimer

Rick Weiss, a science and medical reporter, discusses the study noted above (by Benedikt Fischer et al.) in his article “Marijuana Aids Therapy,” published Sept. 13, 2006 in the Washington Post:

“Marijuana can improve the effectiveness of drug therapy for hepatitis C, a potentially deadly viral infection that affects more than 3 million Americans, a study has found. The work adds to a growing literature supporting the notion that in some circumstances pot can offer medical benefits.

Treatment for hepatitis C involves months of therapy with two powerful drugs, interferon and ribavirin, that have severe side effects, including extreme fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite and depression. Because of those side effects, many patients do not finish treatment and the virus ends up destroying their livers.

While it is possible that the marijuana had a specific, positive biomedical effect, it is more likely that it helped patients by reducing depression, improving appetite and offering psychological benefits that helped the patients tolerate the treatment’s side effects, the team reports in the current issue of the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology.”
Sept. 13, 2006 Rick Weiss

Dean Edell, M.D., states in a Nov. 30, 2000 article “I’m Getting Treatment For Hepatitis C. Will Marijuana Help Me Or Harm Me?” in response to a letter from an individual with Hepatitis C using marijuana, posted on

“People […] have used marijuana to fight nausea with no negative consequences and any anti-nausea drug that the doctor gives you will also be metabolized by the liver. I feel more secure with your liver trying to handle marijuana. Marinol, the FDA-approved pill form of marijuana has shown no toxicity to the liver.

I would estimate marijuana to be as safe as anything else. Interferon and ribarvirin is a pretty hefty combination that can be curative in a significant percentage of cases. It’s basically all we have for hepatitis C. Interferon can make you pretty sick, but ribarvirin is fairly easy on you. They are both antiviral drugs.”
Nov. 30, 2000 Dean Edell

Copyright: 2010