The outstanding contribution of cannabis to the medical world is highly commendable thanks to the continuous works of research by scientists towards harnessing the full potential of the cannabis plant. The adequate usage of top-notch technology and innovation to produce cannabis-related products that can treat various diseases for the benefit of humans, is a feel-good experience. Different diseases and health conditions have been treated using cannabis, scientists now believe that cannabis can be used to protect the liver against possible alcohol damage. How cannabis can protect your liver from alcohol damage? What is liver disease? What is the relationship between cannabis, the liver, and alcohol?
A closer look at the human liver
It is the largest and busiest organ of the body. It executes more than 500 tasks throughout our body making it one of the most essential organs. It is responsible for numerous functions in the body like creating bile which aids the digestion of food and protein in the stomach. It is also responsible for removing toxic substances from the body while regulating hormones, metabolizing nutrients and vitamins, managing cholesterol, regulating blood sugar, among other functions. This superb organ is as important as the heart is to the body because of the various functions it offers. It is a part of the mononuclear phagocyte, which contains Kupffer cells that help to protect the immune system and create a thick wall against diseases and infections.
What is a Liver Disease?
Liver disease is attributed to the inability of the liver to perform all necessary functions in the body. It is caused by a host of factors including unhealthy dietary habits and excessive drinking. These factors that cause damage can lead to tissue scarring in the liver which in turn leads to liver failure. It should be noted that more people die of liver damage than road accidents and diabetes combined. Liver disease can subsequently develop into any of the various types and this depends on the cause. Hepatitis, Primary biliary cirrhosis, alcohol-related fatty liver disease, hemochromatosis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are some of the common liver diseases.
How cannabis can protect your liver from alcohol damage
First of all, it is crucial to say that research on cannabis, alcohol, and the liver is one of the new prospects of study in the world of medical cannabis. Now considering the popularity of both cannabis and alcohol, the habit of using both drugs together is already a norm in our society. The usage of both drugs explores the endocannabinoid system of the body leading to a change in the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
Unexpectedly, new research on alcohol and cannabis has suggested that the usage of both drugs together may have an unforeseen health benefit. Simply put, using cannabis can protect your liver from alcohol-related damage and in this section I’ll drill down on the mechanism in play.
The research was conducted by the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and it carried out on over 300,000 people with cannabis and alcohol misuse history. It was targeted at accessing the development of alcoholic liver diseases and the influence of cannabis use.
The researchers found out that the risk of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) reduced significantly among regular users of cannabis and alcohol. ALD happens when the damage done by excessive drinking increases the scarring in the liver leading to inflammation. It was also discovered that the cannabinoid receptors in the liver could be the ‘way’ for the treatment of liver diseases. In a popular journal published by Liver International in 2018, researchers were able to connect the link between alcohol, liver diseases, and cannabis use. They also discovered that the use of cannabis greatly reduced the severity and occurrence of various liver diseases among alcohol abusers. This novel discovery will further enhance more studies on how cannabis can protect the liver from alcohol damage.
Dr. Terrence Bukong of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the INRS-Institute Armand-Frappier Research Centre in 2018 together with his research team concluded that lower levels of fasting insulin are often linked to regular usage of cannabis. They also found out that those who drink and smoke marijuana had a significant reduction in developing common liver disease. Heavy drinkers who smoke weed frequently had an 8% chance of developing liver disease while those that don’t use cannabis had about 90% chance. It is also pertinent to note that cannabis can protect the liver from a common dietary risk.
Cytokines are regulatory proteins that can help to measure the level of damage alcohol has done to the liver, brain, and other organs of the body. In a study published by the University of Colorado, it was shown that those who use cannabis had minimal Cytokines levels, showing that certain cannabinoids possess the ability to mitigate the damage of alcohol in the body. In another study, heavy cannabis users saw a 40% reduction in alcoholic hepatitis, a 75% reduction in liver cancer, a 55% reduction in fibrosis and alcoholic cirrhosis, and a 45% reduction in alcoholic-fatty liver disease or steatosis.
These extensive works of research carried out by experts in the industry have shown how much benefit cannabis can have on the liver. Cannabis can serve a protective role against some fatty and alcoholic liver disease including liver cancer. It was shown to be more effective on individuals that use both substances (alcohol-cannabis) together. Although studies are still ongoing to validate and better understand just how much cannabis can do in this aspect, it’s a gross understatement to say the future is bright.
The use of cannabis is growing by the day and it is all because of its numerous health benefits. I hope you learned a thing or two on how cannabis can protect your liver from alcohol damage. Drop your opinion on the effects of cannabis as a medicinal agent in the comment section below.