Medical cannabis patients have been reaping the healing benefits of pot for some time now, despite a lag or relative absence of high-quality research. A striking study released last week adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the medicinal benefits of marijuana, covering the potent anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabis use for patients suffering from alcohol-abuse related conditions.
Accepted for publication in Liver International, the extensive study found that patients who were current or former alcoholics were significantly less likely to develop alcohol-related hepatitis, steatosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer if they were cannabis users. The researchers linked cannabis use with a 40 to 50 percent lower odds of being diagnosed with these diseases.
The study analyzed the medical records of nearly 320,000 adults with a history of alcohol abuse, classifying the patients as non-cannabis users, non-dependent cannabis users, and dependent cannabis users.
Interestingly, alcoholics who heavily used cannabis enjoyed an even lower chance of suffering alcoholic liver diseases than non-dependent cannabis users and patients who did not use pot. For example, while all alcoholic cannabis users were less likely to get cirrhosis than non-cannabis users with a history of alcohol abuse, dependent cannabis users were 82 percent less likely to develop the condition than non-dependent users.
The authors of the study cited findings from animal studies to explain how cannabis might help reduce the incidence of alcoholic liver diseases. They reported that chemical elements of marijuana – cannabinoids – suppress inflammation in the liver.
The Medicinal Versatility of Cannabis
The beneficial effects of cannabis stretched beyond reducing the incidence of alcoholic liver diseases, offering comprehensive protection against comorbidities such as hyperlipidemia, obesity, hemochromatosis, and protein-energy malnutrition. Dependent cannabis users even were less likely to develop hepatitis B and C infections than non-users and non-dependent cannabis users.
Overall, these findings are the latest to support the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis, suggesting that cannabis use has the potential to save lives by moderating the inflammatory mechanisms of certain chronic illnesses.
A study published last year found that patients with chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, back pain, and cancer reported favorable results from cannabis as an alternative medication, as a complementary treatment, or as a way to transition away from prescription drugs.
Overall, compared to conventional therapies, the findings revealed that medical marijuana alleviated symptoms of pain and inflammation more quickly, efficiently, and for more extended periods of time. One participant suffering from both HIV and cancer reported using medical marijuana to treat symptoms of inflammation, which eventually allowed her to stop using steroids.
Another survey covering the benefits of cannabis for multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease patients found that over half of the participants who used medical marijuana reduced their prescription medication dosage. The respondents rated cannabis as a highly effective treatment for their symptoms such as tremors, issues with balance, speech problems, and muscular stiffness and soreness.
These new findings of cannabis offer hope to patients who have Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis who struggle with debilitating symptoms that affect their quality of life.
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