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Jaundice and Medical Cannabis Treatment


Jaundice, also called icterus, is the symptom of a medical condition that develops when the chemical bilirubin in hemoglobin is not broken down properly in the liver, causing yellowing of the skin and eyes, reports MedlinePlus, the journal of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Common in newborn babies, with up to 60% of all infants having the condition, jaundice is also seen in patients suffering from a blood disease, liver disorders, infections, blockage of bile ducts, and genetic syndromes. 

Additionally, some medications also cause jaundice. Untreated jaundice can cause kernicterus, a type of brain damage seen in babies with high levels of bilirubin, causing athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss.  Adults who suffer from jaundice experience several symptoms, including abdominal pain, itching, weight loss, pale stools, dark urine, and fever, reports Health Direct, adding the condition can be a symptom of liver disease directly brought on by autoimmune disease and cirrhosis. 

Proven to alleviate autoimmune disease symptoms, medical cannabis could also potentially relieve health issues related to jaundice. As reported in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, “the roots of the cannabis plant have a long history of medical use stretching back millennia.” 

Jaundice Symptoms & Treatments

While most common in infants, adult jaundice is caused by hepatitis, gallstones, and tumors in adults, reports Cleveland Clinic, adding the condition is usually left untreated in adults. Signs of the condition in adults include skin bruising, spider angiomas, and palmar erythema, which is when palms and fingertips become red. Jaundice is diagnosed through urine testing and by a complete blood count, known as a CBC test.

Could Cannabinoids Help With Jaundice?

While the Cleveland Clinic reports, “jaundice usually doesn’t require treatment in adults (it’s a more severe problem in infants),” it does indicate the complications of the condition like bothersome itching. While the medication cholestyramine treats itching, it has adverse side effects, including nausea and appetite loss. Medical cannabis proves to alleviate both of these unwanted side effects, as well as diarrhea in inflammatory bowel disease. Another condition that causes jaundice is hepatitis, which has conclusively been eased with medical cannabis. 

Along with treating inflammation and pain, medical cannabis also alleviates itching in dermatitis and eczema and could help the skin-crawling feeling from jaundice. The medical journal Practical Dermatology reported in 2018 that “cannabinoids are a diverse group of compounds that may hold significant therapeutic capabilities applicable to many areas of medicine, including dermatology.” But of all the benefits of medical cannabis, research showing how it directly affects blood pressure and flow also makes it considerable for jaundice, caused by the lack of hemoglobin breakdown in blood. 

Surely more time and research will warrant further studies on medical cannabis alleviating adverse side effects from conditions and medications, giving people living with jaundice a new hope for healing. 

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Data Last Updated 11/15/2022

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