LiverMind & Body

Cannabis, CBD and hepatitis

Can CBD and cannabis help treat hepatitis? This article describes what hepatitis is, looks at current treatment options and explore the use of cannabis and cbd as a possible therapy. It also provides dosage guides and side effects to help you make an informed decision about your treatment options.

What is viral hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. There are five different types: hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Each is caused by a different virus. 

Though hepatitis is caused by a viral infection, it can be caught by drinking coffee. There are many different types of hepatitis and it’s possible for people to carry more than one type at the same time. The virus that causes infection is shed through body fluids like blood, saliva and stool even before someone has symptoms so others can become infected without knowing it. 

It’s possible to get sick from touching infected matter then placing your unprotected hands near your mouth. Exposure may happen in your workplace or from contact with contaminated needles or other materials; sexual intercourse; sharing razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers; and the sharing of items that may have come into contact with someone else’s blood.

The most common types are Hepatitis A, B and C.

Hepatitis A 

This is a short-term condition that causes liver inflammation. It is normally caught from food contaminated by faeces from an infected person.

Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach cramps/pain, nausea/ vomiting and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).

Although hepatitis A does not lead to lasting damage to your liver it can cause serious complications like acute liver failure if left untreated.

The Hepatitis B virus 

Has similar symptoms including fatigue, low appetite, stomach cramps/pain, nausea/vomiting and jaundice.

Although hepatitis B does not lead to lasting damage to your liver it can cause serious complications. If left untreated chronic hepatitis may lead to liver cirrhosis (liver scarring), liver disease or cancer.

The Hepatitis B virus can be prevented by vaccination.

The Hepatitis C virus

This virus causes an inflammation of the liver which leads to progressive damage over time.

Hepatitis C infection often causes no or only mild symptoms and many initially people have this virus without knowing. Eventually you will feel sick and those with more advanced infection may experience fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, dark urine and yellow discoloration.

Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor right away for diagnosis and treatment options.


Alcoholic hepatitis

Excessive drinking and medications can cause hepaititis and liver failure
Excessive drinking and medications can cause hepaititis and liver failure

Hepatitis is normally the result of infection, but other factors can also cause it, such as alcohol abuse, misuse of medications and exposure to toxins 

Autoimmune hepatitis

This is a condition in which the immune system attacks liver cells. The precise cause of autoimmune hepatitis is unknown, although genetic and environmental factors appear to interact over time in causing the illness. It is 3 times more common in women than men.

Current treatments

The current treatments for hepatitis are antiviral treatments like Ribavirin and Amantadine.

Ribavirin is used to lower the levels of the virus and help the body’s immune system fight it. It can be taken as a pill or as an injection, depending on the severity of the infection.

Amantadine is an antiviral treatment that helps to fight off viral infections like influenza and other diseases. Amantadine is usually only prescribed for short-term use.

Other hepatitis treatments include interferon injections, which are used to lower the levels of virus in the liver and help boost immune system responses. It can be given on its own or combined with other antiviral medications like Ribavirin.

There are also surgeries that can treat Hepatitis B by removing parts of the liver infected with this virus. A surgeon will find these areas through imaging scans that show inflammation or damage caused by HBV infection. This procedure is called a resection surgery, where part of the liver tissue is removed from an individual’s body through keyhole incisions made on his/her abdomen area during lapar surgery (surgery on the abdominal area).

Current treatments for hepatitis include antivirals, immune system boosters and surgery
Current treatments for hepatitis include antivirals, immune system boosters and surgery

What is cannabis? 

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, refers to the dried flowers of the Cannabis Sativa plant that is used for medicinal and recreational purposes. The main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana is THC, which stimulates receptors in our brain to produce a “high” sensation.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is another one of the more than 500 active ingredients contained in the cannabis plant. It is a cannabinoid, like its more infamous sister THC, but unlike THC it does not make you high. It can be used for various ailments and conditions. Clinical trials into the therapeutic uses of CBD and cannabis are being carried out across the globe. 

How can cannabis and CBD help hepatitis?

The World Health Organisation estimates that there are more than 240 million chronic hepatitis patients in the world.  While hepatitis is considered a disease of the past, there are still many patients who live with this condition and they need all the help they can get.

Cannabis is a plant that’s been used for millennia by humans. It’s not just used recreationally, but also medicinally, and research has found it to be beneficial in relieving symptoms related to hepatitis.

Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are well documented to relieve symptoms of discomfort and nausea. Cannabis also has anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to suppress the immune system’s response, which may help control symptoms of hepatitis.

Research into cannabis and CBD use

Cannabis has been found to boost cognitive functions and help with depression and anxiety as well as insomnia and sleep disturbances.This 2006 study concluded that cannabis use improved retention and virological outcomes in patients treated for the hepatitis C virus. And this 2017 study decided that CBD combined with other medications is effective as a treatment of viral hepatitis.

Finally, this study comparing over 4000 cannabis users with 4000 nonusers found cannabis users had lower frequencies for liver cirrhosis and related complications, fewer unfavourable conditions at hospital discharge, and lower total health care costs. 

Although more studies need to be done, it is certainly true that people who suffer from anxiety and depression associated with hepatitis could find great relief through the use of CBD or cannabis.

CBD can help relieve the anxiety and depression associated with hepatitis
CBD can help relieve the anxiety and depression associated with liver disease

CBD dosage

There is so much conflicting advice about CBD doses for hepatitis. How do I decide how much CBD is right for me?

Dosages of CBD vary widely from less than 0.5 mg per day up to 1000 mg. As you don’t know how it will affect you we would advise starting small, with a low dose, and then increase the amount as needed until you feel your symptoms lessening. 

Cannabis / marijuana dosage

Marijuana alone can’t treat an HCV infection or the complications that lead to cirrhosis and liver disease. Instead, the medicine may help the patients who suffer from nausea caused by the medications used to treat the virus. Marijuana can be:

  • ingested by taking cannabis pills or edibles
  • inhaled by smoking or vaping
  • absorbed under the tongue as a tincture or oil

Dosages are difficult to judge as many health factors play a part. It is important to take into account the psychoactive effects of the cannabis you are using. Bare in mind that ingested cannabis takes much longer to enter the system – potentially up to 3 hours. 

As a rule of thumb, 5 mg THC is considered a “normal” dose, with 2.5 mg a microdose and 10 mg a heavy dose. We would advise starting low, and slow, waiting for the full effects before taking more.  

Side effects and safety concerns: CBD

There are very few side effects associated with using CBD products. Even though it does not have any psychoactive properties, some people do experience tiredness, diarrhoea, and changes in appetite or weight. More scientific research is needed to determine what other side effects may occur with long term use of CBD products.

It also has some drug interactions. Care needs to be taken if taking medicines that carry a “grapefruit warning”. It can also affect people taking high blood pressure medicine as it also has a tension-lowering effect.

For children, CBD products are safe and well tolerated. However, parents should be very careful about where they purchase their CBD oil because preparations that contain THC may not be suitable for children. It is important to consult with a paediatrician before using any medications or supplements for your child so you can get information on dosage amounts as well as possible interactions between other drugs your child might take.

For pregnant women who suffer from anxiety or chronic pain associated with pregnancy it would probably be best to avoid taking anything new until you have talked to your doctor first.

CBD is considered a fairly low risk therapy, however it can interact with some other medications so if you suffer from liver disease and are thinking of adding it to your regime, it is certainly a good idea to talk to your doctor about what dosage they would recommend.

Side effects and safety concerns: cannabis 

Firstly it is important to state that cannabis is still illegal in many countries. Please check the laws in your state or country before continuing. 

Cannabis is psychoactive and side effects can include:

  • Feeling “high”
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Paranoia
  • Giggling
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Hunger (“the munchies”)
  • Impaired coordination

It is not advisable to drive after taking cannabis medicine and it should not be given to children without thorough medical advise 

Lifestyle changes to reduce hepatitis symptoms

 and vegatables are great for hepatitis sufferers
Be nice to yourself! A healthy diet is important for hepatitis sufferers

A number of lifestyle changes have been shown to reduce the symptoms of hepatitis and liver disease. These include:

  • getting enough sleep every night.
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • exercising regularly to keep your body strong and healthy.
  • reducing stress levels by practising relaxation techniques or going for regular massages if you can afford them!
  • avoiding alcohol will help reduce the risk of liver damage during hepatitis treatment as well as improving general feelings of wellbeing too.

Other lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, maintaining optimal weight for height and managing any other existing health conditions.


Where can I get more information about this topic?

Here are some sites that may be helpful:

Is there a cure for hepatitis?

There are hundreds of thousands of people worldwide that have been diagnosed with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), yet only about 20% seek treatment because it can be so expensive due to lack of insurance coverage – despite how effective HCV antiviruses truly are.

CBD and cannabis can help improve the quality of life for hepatitis sufferers
CBD and cannabis can help improve the quality of life for hepatitis sufferers

Does CBD help with hepatitis B?

The short answer is yes, CBD can help with hepatitis B. While there are no direct treatments for chronic or acute Hepatitis B, CBD has been shown to relieve symptoms of the Hepatitis B virus and the side effects from traditional medications used in treatment.

Can CBD help with hep C?

Yes, CBD acts on the endocannabinoid receptors in the liver that are also activated by THC. This may explain why cbd can help with Hepatitis C. Cbd may play a minor role in slowing the progression of hepatitis c.

Is CBD hepatotoxic?

CBD is not hepatotoxic. There is no evidence to support this claim.

Is hepatitis related to the liver?

Yes, hepatitis is related to the liver. The hepatitis virus primarily affects the liver and is transmitted through direct contact with an individual who has hepatitis or through contact with infected blood. Hepatitis can also be transmitted when an individual eats food or drinks water that contains the virus.


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