There are plenty of research studies on the effects of alcohol and cannabis on our health, but there aren’t as many investigations into the effects of cannabis on people who combine it with alcohol. A new study has done exactly this – they have researched cannabis’ effects on people suffering from alcohol liver disease.
Alcoholic liver disease results from excessive drinking over a long period of time. Alcohol causes inflammation of the liver, and it also affects other organs of the body. Conditions like steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis result from the inflammation of the liver. Cirrhosis, for instance, is an advanced-stage liver condition. In people with cirrhosis, the liver does not have many healthy cells and its functioning is severely compromised. The numbers shed further light on the problem; out of the people who have had an alcohol-use disorder, 20% develop liver disease.
So, what role can cannabis play in combating alcohol-related diseases? Let’s look at the research on cannabis’ role in combating alcohol liver disease.
A large study, involving a total of 320,000 people, including 4,300 dependent cannabis takers and 26,000 non-dependent takers, investigated the subject. The study concluded that cannabis protects against the onset of liver disease in both regular and occasional cannabis takers. Here are some of the numbers from the study: alcoholic cirrhosis – 55% decrease, alcoholic hepatitis – 40% decrease, alcoholic steatosis – 45% decrease, and hepatocellular carcinoma – 75% decrease. The data includes both dependent and non-dependent users.
While there was a reduction in the development of these conditions in both, cannabis was more protective in alcohol abusers compared to alcohol-dependent individuals – here abuse means those people who drink regularly, and dependence means people who can’t quit. So, basically, the study says that cannabis can help, but the more you drink, the less likely you are to get the help.
Alcohol’s negative effects come from the inflammation it causes in different parts of the body. This inflammation is a primary factor in the onset of liver disease. THC and CBD are anti-inflammatory. Based on this property of these cannabinoids, we can assume that using cannabis helps us combat the inflammation.
But, cannabis’ protective qualities in the case of liver damage cannot be generalized: THC activates CB1 and CB 2 receptors, while CBD stops CB1 activation and activates CB 2. CB1 activation can encourage inflammation in the liver. Properly combining THC and CBD or CBD-biased strains may help in further improving the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis.