Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, is far less likely to bother cannabis consumers. This is in comparison to those who do not ingest marijuana at all, and revealed by a research study published in the Public Library of Science. Fatty liver disease is among the most widespread health problems affecting people today, and currently, there are nearly 100 million sufferers living in the United States alone.
Effect of Marijuana on Fatty Liver Disease
Using data from 5.9 million adults hospitalized for NAFLD from a national demographically inclusive database, researchers from Johns Hopkin University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School made a surprising discovery: A noticeable reduction in NAFLD cases is apparent among marijuana users. After analyzing the prevalence of both cannabis use and NAFLD, the risk is significantly lower.
In fact, non-users have a 15 percent higher risk of contracting this disease compared to those who use cannabis occasionally. Among habitual users, however, the risk of receiving a NAFLD diagnosis is 52 percent lower than it is for abstainers. This is a staggering statistic. It means that regular marijuana use cuts the likelihood of developing NAFLD by more than half.
The good news does not end at risk reduction, however. The study further found that there exists a dosage-dependent decrease in the number of NAFLD cases among cannabis users. This indicates the potential and benefits of cannabis to suppress, perhaps totally reverse, the development of NAFLD in humans, suggesting a treatment possibility for sufferers.
Risk Factors for Fatty Liver Disease
When fat builds up in the liver, it leads to inflammation and damage of the organ. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is simply the consequences of this fat buildup, but they can be lasting and devastating. Most people never notice problems or symptoms, but for others, it can become severe and affect liver function. It causes scarring, and eventually this may lead to cirrhosis.
Alcohol is the only known cause of fatty liver disease. According to WebMD, however, even abstainers get it. The involvement of other risk factors in triggering the onset of this condition is evident in the number of non-drinkers afflicted. Nobody knows exactly why some get NAFLD and others do not, but there are commonalities among victims with the following risk factors:
- A family history of fatty liver disease.Obesity and its associated risks.Type 2 diabetes or resistance to insulin. High triglyceride levels or high cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome or imbalances in metabolism.
- The majority of NAFLD sufferers range in age between 40 years and 50 years. Most experience one or more of the abovementioned issues. Even so, those without any of these risk factors still succumb to this disease.
- Fortunately, answers are near. Separate case-control studies suggest that marijuana use treats all of these predispositions, except your family history of it.
The Role of Cannabinoids in Healthy Liver Function
The human body produces its own endocannabinoids, which play a crucial role in the optimal health of all its systems. These molecules bind to receptors that the body manufacturers specifically for them, making sure that all organs function as they should. In the case of the liver, any disruption to the production of endocannabinoids and their receptors could lead to fat accumulation.
When fat clogs the liver, it creates a host of problems. Inflammation causes scarring, which in turn leads to cirrhosis and ultimately liver failure. Cannabinoids in marijuana match the body’s endocannabinoids perfectly, binding to receptor cells with ease and replenishing depleted levels. This is where the value of cannabinoids lies, and the reason for higher CBD levels in medical marijuana plants.
Using Marijuana for Fatty Liver Disease
Because the study’s findings indicate that marijuana lowers NAFLD risk and is a potential treatment for the disease itself, testing is ongoing. Although smoking cannabis does offer medical benefit, according to the National Institutes of Health, efficacy is higher when navigating the digestive tract, such as in edible, tincture, or concentrated forms.
If you have fatty liver disease or are at risk of getting it, then discuss medical marijuana with your prescribing physician at your next consultation. He or she can write a recommendation letter to help you become a verifiable Californian patient with a Medical Marijuana Card. Although help is always available online, be sure to choose the right strains for treating inflammatory diseases, such as NAFLD.