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Can Medical Marijuana Help Treat Liver Disease?

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Can medical marijuana help treat liver disease? As more scientific research is being done on the cannabis plant in general, so is more research on the endocannabinoid system.  There have been articles written about what the endocannabinoid system is, and even articles about how endocannabinoid deficiency can affect the human body.

Research has also found that liver disease, a disease that inflicts more than 400,000 people each year and is ranked among the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., can be treated with medical marijuana because of the endocannabinoid system.  This very system regulates not only the nervous system, but the immune system as well. Because of this, researchers have concluded that cannabis may possibly be able to help people suffering from certain forms of liver disease because of our preexisting cannabinoid system.  This followed a study in 2005 that researchers at the Hebrew University Medical School did, which concluded that our body’s own internal endocannabinoid system has receptors that bind with cannabis’ most active ingredient, THC.

While this study showed a possible connection between liver disease and cannabinoids, more research was needed.

A recent article on the Fresh Toast stated that following the 2005 study’s conclusions, a 2011 study published in the journal of Cell Death and Disease used mouse models to determine that cannabidiol or CBD (cannabis’ non-intoxicating ingredient) causes infected liver cells to participate in apoptosis, also known as cell suicide. 

They concluded their research noting that CBD may have “great therapeutic potential.” Even better, controlled doses of CBD do not affect healthy or non-malignant cells. So it can attack the bad cells and shy away from the good ones.

But if cannabis has positive effects on liver disease cam it also have negative effects? According to science, not particularly.

Cannabis consumption does not increase or accelerate the progression of liver disease. In a 2013 study that asked the question can medical marijuana help treat liver disease, researchers studied 690 liver disease patients– specifically patients with HIV and Hepatitis C infections, which showed promise. 

At the start of the experiment, 53 percent of the subjects had smoked cannabis in the last six months, consuming an average of seven joints per week. 40 percent of the subjects smoked daily.

Researchers concluded that “There was no evidence that marijuana smoking accelerates progression to significant liver fibrosis.”

So, no, smoking cannabis won’t worsen liver disease, if anything, the last 12 years of research prove it could help.

 

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