Medical marijuana has been explored as a potential treatment for some of the symptoms and side effects associated with hepatitis C (HCV), but it is not considered a primary or curative treatment for the virus itself. However, cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are thought to help alleviate symptoms of the disease and side effects of pharmaceutical treatments such as pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue.
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver. Hepatitis C infection has an acute incubation period of about 7 weeks . During this time only about one-third of infected patients exhibit symptoms of infection such as fatigue, malaise, nausea, jaundice, dark urine, and pain in the upper right quadrant of the body. Because of this, there is a risk that infections can go undetected. About 85% of individuals infected with hepatitis C go on to develop chronic HCV infection.
Chronic hepatitis C infection is often asymptomatic for much of the time . However, intermittent symptoms may occur. These symptoms include fatigue, anorexia, nausea, pain in the upper right quadrant of the body, dark urine, and itching. Even more concerning is the risk of liver fibrosis and the 20% to 30% likelihood that liver cirrhosis will develop within one to two years of chronic infection.
Medical Marijuana for Hepatitis C
Many studies, including one in 2008, advise against cannabis use for hepatitis C patients . These studies have observed increases in liver fibrosis among cannabis-using patients. However, a 2014 study contradicted these findings, observing that cannabis use did not impact liver tissue . The potential advantages and disadvantages of using marijuana in the context of hepatitis C infection need a more thorough assessment.
Current therapies for chronic hepatitis C infection, like pegylated interferon and ribavirin, are linked to potentially incapacitating physical side effects . Some individuals speculate that marijuana and oral cannabinoids may alleviate these side effects. However, the available data are subject to debate, and comprehensive research is yet to provide definitive answers. Ultimately, the decision to recommend medical marijuana for hepatitis C is a decision that needs to be made on an individual basis with careful consideration and guidance from your medical care team on the risks .
Best Strains for Hepatitis C
If your physician has approved the use of medical marijuana for hepatitis C infection, you will want to talk to them about your medical goals as they relate to your specific symptoms. The best cannabis strain will vary whether you are seeking relief from pain, appetite stimulation, or relief from fatigue. With that in mind, here are some medical cannabis strains to consider.
- Strawberry Cough
Strawberry Cough, a renowned cannabis strain, is celebrated for its delightful strawberry flavor, a characteristic attributed to its primary terpenes: myrcene, pinene, and caryophyllene. This vibrant hybrid, tilted toward sativa dominance, results from a crossbreeding of the Haze and Strawberry Fields strains. With THC levels averaging between 17% and 21%, Strawberry Cough bestows a cerebral high that brings about an uplifted mood. Notably, its effects tend to be moderate and functional, making it a preferred choice for daytime use and social interactions. Furthermore, this strain is often recommended for individuals new to cannabis, given its gentle and approachable nature.
- Cereal Milk
Cereal Milk, a cannabis strain, represents a phenotype derived from the hybrid Cookies strain. It arises from the genetic fusion of Y Life (Cookies x Cherry Pie) and Snowman. This particular phenotype boasts a distinctive flavor profile characterized by its creamy, sugary notes, enriched with hints of butter and vanilla. The Cereal Milk strain’s terpene composition takes center stage, with caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene playing leading roles. These terpenes, combined with the hybrid genetics, craft a well-balanced high, marked by uplifting cerebral effects, soothing bodily relaxation, and a non-sedative sense of euphoria. Slightly leaning toward sativa dominance, Cereal Milk proves to be an excellent choice for daytime and early evening consumption.
The cannabis strain known as Dosidos, sometimes called Dosi or Do-Si-Dos, was born from the union of OG Kush Breath, a Girl Scout Cookies phenotype, and Face Off OG. Dosidos is a potent indica-dominant hybrid, renowned for its profoundly relaxing effects that cascade through the body, inducing a deep sense of tranquility. This strain’s character is shaped by its dominant terpenes: limonene, caryophyllene, and linalool, which impart a delightful medley of flavors encompassing citrusy, spicy, and floral notes. If you’re seeking an ideal evening strain with a dreamy flavor profile, Dosidos stands out as an excellent choice, widely available in dispensaries throughout the United States.
- Sour Diesel
Sour Diesel, often referred to as Sour D, stands as a sativa cannabis strain renowned for its swift-acting cerebral effects. This invigorating cultivar is the result of a crossbreeding between Chemdawg and Super Skunk, acclaimed for its distinctly gassy aroma. Sour Diesel’s flavor profile is characterized by pungent, skunky, and gassy notes, accompanied by subtle hints of citrus. Ideally suited for daytime use due to its high-energy impact, users may also experience heightened motivation and an elevated, positive mood. However, it’s important to note that, given its potent sativa nature, some users might be susceptible to feelings of paranoia. The strain’s primary terpenes encompass caryophyllene, myrcene, and limonene, complemented by minor amounts of pinene, linalool, and terpineol.
- Durban Poison
Durban Poison, a pure sativa cannabis strain native to South Africa, has maintained its genetic integrity through generations without hybridization. In its South African homeland, it is referred to as “dagga” and has been cultivated for medicinal purposes since the 14th century. This strain is an excellent choice for individuals seeking an energizing and uplifting experience, particularly during the day. Its effects are predominantly cerebral, delivering a clear “head” high. The distinctive round green buds of Durban Poison emanate a sweet fragrance and offer a flavor profile highlighted by notes of pine, spice, and licorice. Enriched with terpenes such as terpinolene, myrcene, and ocimene, this strain is renowned for its unique qualities.
Mimosa, also known as Purple Mimosa, is a sativa-dominant hybrid born from the union of Purple Punch and Clementine. This fruity cannabis strain carries a substantial punch, with THC levels typically ranging between 20% and 27%. The effects of the Mimosa strain can vary depending on the dosage. Smaller amounts often result in a cheerful and invigorating high that remains quite functional. Despite its sativa dominance, larger doses of this high-potency strain may induce more relaxing, sedative effects. Mimosa delights the senses with flavors reminiscent of mimosa cocktails, featuring grapefruit, lemon, and orange notes. These appealing flavors are largely attributed to its primary terpenes, myrcene, pinene, and caryophyllene.
- Jack Herer
The cannabis strain Jack Herer, alternatively known as JH, The Jack, Premium Jack, and Platinum Jack, draws its name from the author of the book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” This sativa-dominant hybrid emerges from a genetic blend of an undisclosed Haze hybrid, Northern Lights #5, and Shiva Skunk, meticulously bred by Sensi Seeds during the 1990s. While various Jack Herer phenotypes exist, the strain as a whole is celebrated for delivering an uplifting, cerebral high, firmly establishing its place within the medical cannabis community. One of the initial characteristics that captures attention is the resinous green appearance of Jack Herer’s buds, accompanied by a prominent pine fragrance. The strain’s flavor profile predominantly features pine notes, complemented by hints of spice and wood. Among the primary terpenes found in Jack Herer are terpinolene, caryophyllene, and pinene. Given its energizing nature, Jack Herer is best suited for daytime use.
- Bruce Banner
Characterized by its vibrant green buds, the Bruce Banner cannabis strain is a well-balanced hybrid. It makes a striking entrance with a potent punch that gradually evolves into a euphoric, uplifting buzz. Given its more energizing qualities, Bruce Banner is best appreciated earlier in the day, when its creative energy can be harnessed to the fullest. Bruce Banner offers a sensory journey marked by a blend of diesel, strawberry, citrus, and herbal flavors, inherited from its parent strains, OG Kush and Strawberry Diesel. This flavor profile is shaped by dominant terpenes, including myrcene, caryophyllene, and limonene. It’s worth noting that there are five distinct phenotypes of the Bruce Banner cannabis strain, with Bruce Banner #3 being the most prevalent.
- Purple Kush
Purple Kush, a quintessential kush cannabis variety, showcases densely frosted buds and emanates a pungent and sour aroma. Yet, its flavor profile is refreshingly clean, offering luscious sweetness. When enjoyed through a dry herb vape, Purple Kush’s full spectrum of flavors, including bright, floral, and citrusy notes, can be fully savored. Among the prominent terpenes in Purple Kush, myrcene, pinene, and caryophyllene play key roles. Partaking in this strain often ushers in a classic kush high, characterized by profound relaxation of both the mind and body.
Rooted in the crossing of Hindu Kush and Purple Afghani, Purple Kush maintains strong ties to the landrace genetics of the Hindu Kush Mountain Range. It’s a classic strain cherished by indica enthusiasts, prized for its effectiveness in providing relief from pain and anxiety, as well as promoting restful sleep and deep bodily relaxation. It’s worth noting, however, that Purple Kush is quite potent, so those less experienced with cannabis should approach it with care, starting with modest amounts.
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Liu, T., Howell, G. T., Turner, L., Corace, K., Garber, G., & Cooper, C. (2014). Marijuana use in hepatitis C infection does not affect liver biopsy histology or treatment outcomes. Canadian journal of gastroenterology & hepatology, 28(7), 381–384. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144456/