In an earlier post, we have written about a new study suggesting that alcohol causes more damage to our brain than cannabis does. According to researchers from the University of Colorado in Boulder, cannabis does not affect the brain’s ability to perform its function. This is something that alcohol does rather perfectly. (Read this previous post here.)
Well, another study provides more evidence that cannabis is not as harmful as many people are hoping it would be.
The new study suggests that cannabis can actually help lessen the harmful effects of alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse. Specifically, this study had investigated the effect of consuming weed on alcoholic liver disease.
The study concluded that there is reason to believe that marijuana’s anti-inflammatory properties protect our liver from damage caused by the abuse of alcohol.
Alcoholic liver disease: What’s that???
Alcohol introduces a harmful substance to the body. The liver, on the other end, filters out this substance in the bloodstream. However, in the process, liver cells get damaged and the liver suffers from inflammation.
The more frequent the alcohol consumption, the more significant the damage to the liver. Alcoholic liver disease is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. It is characterized by elevated levels of inflammation. Alcohol directly damages our liver cells and this causes the inflammatory response.
To be more specific, alcohol disturbs the intestinal walls and this leads to inflammatory cells working double time to repair the damage. The inflammatory cells pass by the intestine and make their way to the liver and bring liver inflammation.
Alcohol also causes microbes found in the gut to relase toxins into the blood stream. The liver tries to break these toxins down, but in the process, it becomes inflamed.
Alcoholic liver disease is also characterized by four manifestations or stages:
First, the progression of alcoholic liver disease disrupts the normal function of the gut. This leads to excessive fat deposits in one’s liver and causes fatty liver disease, or steatosis.
Second, the excess of fat liver cells causes a state of constant liver inflammation, even without alcohol. This phase is known as alcoholic hepatitis.
The third stage is when inflammation leads to irreversible liver cell damage, which will eventually reach that point wherein there are very little remaining healthy cells. Non-functioning tissues will also cause scarring on the liver. At this stage, the liver function is now greatly compromised. This stage is now called cirrhosis.
The fourth stage is when the liver inflammation has been going on for years and could mean higher risks for liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma.
How cannabis helps
Researchers at the North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts, looked into the potent anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis and whether these properties can effectively help protect one’s liver from damage.
The study involved about 319,000 patients who have a history of alcohol abuse. The group was divided into three groups: non-cannabis users, dependent cannabis users, and non-dependent cannabis users.
The researchers also looked into how the consumption of cannabis related to the four different stages of liver disease.
Surprisingly — or not! — the researchers found that those who use cannabis had a significantly lower likelihood of developing any of the four stages of liver disease. Moreover, the dependent cannabis users group showed to have the least chances of developing liver disease. This means that the more a person uses weed, the less likely he or she is to develop liver disease caused by alcohol consumption.
The study concluded that there is reason to believe that the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana do protect our liver from damage caused by the abuse of alcohol.