Study Shows Cannabis Protects the Liver From Alcohol Damage

We hear a lot about the effects of cannabis on the brain and body, but rarely do we consider its effects when used in combination with other drugs, like alcohol. Studying the health impacts of both alcohol and cannabis on their own is valuable, but it doesn’t always reflect the public’s use patterns. Therefore, it’s important to understand the impact that the combination of alcohol and cannabis has on health outcomes. A recent study took up this challenge by investigating the effect of cannabis consumption on alcoholic liver disease.
What Is Alcoholic Liver Disease?
Drinking a lot of alcohol over many years causes liver disease by consistently elevating levels of inflammation. Alcohol directly damages liver cells and causes an inflammatory response. Additionally, alcohol disturbs the walls of the intestine, leading to a recruitment of inflammatory cells to repair the damage. These inflammatory cells make their way through the intestine to the liver where they contribute to liver inflammation. Alcohol also disrupts the microbes in the gut, causing them to release toxins into the blood stream that the liver tries to break down and becomes inflamed in the process.
These processes lead to the onset and progression of alcoholic liver disease:
The progression of alcoholic liver disease often brings a disruption of normal gut function, leading to an excess of fat deposits in the liver. This creates a condition known as “steatosis,” or “fatty liver.”
The increase in the cellular stress by the excess of fat cells in the liver leads to a state of constant inflammation of the liver, even in the absence of alcohol. This state is called “alcoholic hepatitis.”
Eventually, this inflammation leads to irreversible liver cell damage. The damage reaches a point where few healthy cells remain and the liver becomes scarred with non-functioning tissue. This stage is called “cirrhosis,” and liver function is severely compromised.
Lastly, the ongoing inflammation for years, if not decades, also increases risk for liver cancer, called “hepatocellular carcinoma.”
These four manifestations characterize the devastating alcoholic liver disease, which turns out to be quite common. Nearly 29% of individuals have had an alcohol use disorder in their lifetime, and among them, 20% develop liver disease. And it can kill you. In fact, those with an alcohol use disorder are 23 times more likely to die from a liver disease. What if there was a way to reduce the risk of alcoholic liver disease in those with an alcohol use disorder?
Indeed there may be, and cannabis may hold the key.
Ten percent of individuals with an alcohol use disorder also have a cannabis use disorder, while even more use cannabis but aren’t classified as dependent consumers. Could cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties protect against the development of alcoholic liver disease?
Study Findings: The Effects of Cannabis on Alcoholic Liver Disease
In a massive study that included 320,000 individuals with an alcohol use disorder* (of which over 26,000 were non-dependent cannabis users and 4,300 were dependent cannabis users), the scientists revealed that cannabis use protected against developing alcoholic liver disease. The scientists found that regardless of whether people were frequent or infrequent cannabis consumers, cannabis protected against developing each of the four stages of liver disease. Notably, the heaviest cannabis consumers had the greatest protection against alcoholic liver disease.
Specifically, cannabis use was associated with (note: percentages are for combined dependent and non-dependent cannabis consumers):
45% reduction in alcoholic steatosis (fatty liver)
40% reduction in alcoholic hepatitis (inflamed liver)
55% reduction in alcoholic cirrhosis (scarred liver)
75% reduction in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer)
It must be noted that cannabis was most protective in individuals who met the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse. Cannabis had less of a protective effect in those who presumably consumed more alcohol and met the criteria for alcohol dependence. Broadly speaking, alcohol abuse is drinking too much too often, while dependence is the inability to quit. In most cases, those who are dependent end up consuming more alcohol throughout their lives. So it appears that cannabis is only protective against alcoholic liver disease to a point; the more you drink, the less cannabis can help.
Cannabis Protects Against Liver Cancer by Reducing Inflammation
Despite the growing excitement of certain cannabinoids in cancer treatment, the scientists concluded that cannabis’ protection against liver cancer mostly came from its ability to prevent cirrhosis. This is therefore a different protective mechanism than halting or killing the cancer directly. Since 90% of hepatocellular carcinoma stems from cirrhosis, cannabis’ block of this critical step illustrates its substantial therapeutic potential to prevent the onset of these life-threatening conditions.
But their results still leave open the possibility for cannabis’ direct anti-cancer effects. The scientists report that cannabis use was associated with a similar reduction in liver cancer in both alcohol abusers and those who were dependent. Since cannabis was less effective at preventing cirrhosis in those with alcohol dependence, it leaves open the possibility that cannabis directly blocked the development of liver cancer independent of its effects on cirrhosis. Additional studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of cannabis’ anti-cancer properties in the liver.
Alcohol Increases Inflammation
Alcohol damages the brain and body by increasing inflammation, and this inflammation contributes to liver disease. The anti-inflammatory properties of the primary cannabinoids, THC and cannabidiol (CBD), lead one to predict that cannabis consumption could reduce inflammation caused by alcohol, and therefore help prevent the development of liver disease.
However, cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects are not so straight forward in the liver. THC activates cannabinoid type I and type II receptors (CB1 and CB2), while CBD blocks THC’s actions at CB1 receptors and activates CB2 receptors. This distinction is important considering that activating CB1 receptors has pro-inflammatory effects in the liver and leads to liver disease, while CB2 activation has anti-inflammatory effects and protects against liver disease. These effects have been identified in laboratory models of liver disease, but cannabis’ effect on alcoholic liver disease in humans had not yet been assessed.
Cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties are already being utilized for pain relief as well as treatment for colitis (inflammation of the colon), multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. Balanced THC/CBD strains or CBD-dominant strains may provide even greater anti-inflammatory effects, and hopefully better prevent alcoholic liver disease.

Source : Leafly


2,500-year-old marijuana discovered in an ancient tomb

A 2,500-year-old stash of whole marijuana plants have been unearthed from an ancient tomb in northwest China. This discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that ancient people used marijuana for its psychoactive properties, and incorporated it into their rituals.A team of archaeologists, led by Hongen Jiang with the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered 13 marijuana plants that were still largely intact, if yellowed and desiccated after millennia underground. In a first for funerary marijuana, the plants were found lying like a burial shroud atop the body of a man who had died in his mid-30s. Their roots lay below the man’s hips and the tips — which had been trimmed to remove the flowers — extended up around his face, according to the publication of the find in the journal Economic Botany.
This stash was found in one of 240 tombs that archaeologists had excavated in a desert region of the Turpan Basin in northwest China. The area had probably once been a stop along the Silk Road, and pastoral people called the Subeixi had lived and traded here, Kristin Romey for National Geographic reports. Three other tombs in this cemetery also contained marijuana fruits, leaves, stem fragments, and seeds. Scientists have wondered whether the marijuana plants came in via trade, or whether they had been farmed or grew wild in the region. Since the burial shroud marijuana plants were whole, uprooted plants, that suggests local growth.


Ancient people in Siberia and northwestern China have been putting pot in tombs since at least the first millennia BCE. An open question has been whether these plants were used for fruit, for their hemp fibers to make rope and clothing, or for what we use them for today: to get high, or to cut pain. So far, archaeologists have found 6,000 to 7,000-year-old hemp fabrics in Northern China, but haven’t unearthed any evidence of hemp clothing near the Turpan Basin before 2,000 years ago. While it’s possible that the clothes may simply have rotted over time, it’s also possible that the main purpose of marijuana wasn’t fiber.

In 2006, archaeologists found a large cache of marijuana fragments in a grave from around the same time period, at a nearby settlement. When scientists later analyzed the plants, they detected compounds that form when the main source of marijuana’s high — tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — breaks down. That means these plants were probably prized for their psychoactive properties. This latest discovery of marijuana plants used as a burial shroud as well as the many previous findings of marijuana in the region’s tombs suggests that marijuana was used either medicinally or ritually, the authors write.

VIA: National Geographic
SOURCE: Economic Botany, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, and Journal of Experimental Botany

The future is Hemp

There are certain global changes, which we do not welcome. Deforestation, global warming, over population, loss of diversity, and the poisoning of seemingly every ecosystem alive.
We need to act now! Analyzing these problems and creating solutions should be our PRIORITY. Alternative crops such as hemp offer a wide range of benefits, not only to the environment but to local and world economies alike. Hemp is as valuable to the small farm communities as it is to the big industry (a balance not often found these days). The overall benefits include: bio-safe alternatives to the products depended upon now, and a sustainable fiber source to meet the worlds extreme demand. The benefits to the world would be phenomenal. Farmers worldwide could utilize this amazing universal plant. The key word here is adaptability. Hemp can thrive virtually anywhere in the world, due to the fact that it is essentially a weed.

Agriculturally, hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is a superb rotational crop. It also has the ability to resist drought as well as insects and fungus. Requiring little to no fertilizer it would greatly improve water quality by potentially reducing cancer causing agents in well water and runoff into rivers, lakes, and streams.

Economically, opportunity is knocking! The amount of jobs that would be created by the major upsurge in hemp production, would be a welcome blessing to small rural communities where jobs are scarce. Why are we sending millions of dollars each year to foreign economies when there are plenty of farmers as well as manufacturers and consumers right here in America? Prior to 1890 the world depended on hemp fiber so much it was the universal standard. In colonial times it was required by law to grow the hemp plant, for the survival of the colonies. You could pay your taxes with hemp. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew, and strongly advocated the hemp plant to stabilize our new country. Washington himself once said, “Make the most of the hemp plant – sow it everywhere.”

The pros most definitely outweigh the cons (if there are any). Hemp is not in production today because of laws written in 1937 by politicians involved in big industry. Cultivation of hemp posed a direct threat to the petrochemical industry, as well as cotton growers, and paper producers with large timber holdings. Therefore laws were designed to create so much red tape it would hinder and eventually stop production of the plant. Big industry does not want hemp relegalized, and they are the ones with the money and the lobbying power to maintain this red tape. By avoiding natural solutions, Industry continues to deplete our earth’s resources.

Propaganda was published nationwide in the Hearst Newspaper, the largest paper in the country, during the 1930’s. Enough people read or heard these lies that it has become incorporated into our culture to think of hemp as marijuana the “killer weed”. This is entirely untrue, and only through proper education can we counteract the effects of the “campaign of lies”.

Cannabis sativa L., otherwise known as hemp, contains less than one- percent (.2%) tetrahydracannabinol (THC), the active ingredient, which causes the “high” effect when smoking pot. This TRACE of THC would only be present in the leaves, and would be of no pharmaceutical value. Even if one were to try to smoke hemp they would only get a headache or become nauseous. You CANNOT get high on hemp! Hemp products DO NOT contain THC. It is perfectly legal to possess hemp products as well as sterilized seeds. You cannot cultivate it because law enforcement officials claim they could not distinguish between hemp and marijuana. This is also untrue. The two varieties of cannabis grow completely different. A field of hemp is planted in rows four inches apart, and is grown for its fibrous stalks. Hemp grows to a mature height of 10 to 12 feet; marijuana is a short, bushy plant, which grows to an average height of four to six feet. Additionally, smoking grade marijuana is planted two feet apart and grown for its potent flowers.

By using hemp products you are saying, “It’s time to make a change.” Bio-safe products need to become an everyday thing, not a trend. The earth is our life support system, and the only one we have. Let’s fix what has already been done. Please support Industrial Hemp, and pass on the truth to anyone who laughs, jokes, or just doesn’t know.

Written by: Travis Elble