Liver fibrosis is one of the most prevalent diseases of the liver that exist with just under half a million people in the USA currently diagnosed with the disease. Such is the level of death associated with this condition, liver fibrosis is now the 10th most common cause of death in the USA. Liver Fibrosis occurs when the liver has an excessive build-up of scar tissue that causes excessive inflammation and the subsequent death of the cells that make up the liver. The cells that die are replaced by the body, but this results in areas of the liver becoming tough with accumulations of fibrous tissue. As this fibrous tissue grows, the liver hardens and death then follows if not adequately treated.
There has been research recently into the various effects of recreational cannabis use as a “healthier alternative” to alcohol. As a result of the research, the researchers were able to find a positive link whereby cannabis can aid in the repair of the liver effected by alcohol. The results improve if used over the long term. Because cannabis contains cannabinoids, the cannabis is able to reduce the inflammation of the liver, making hardening less likely.
Studies have identified a link between the amount of cannabis consumed and the efficacy of the positive effect on the liver experienced. A study that took place in 2004 looked at the development of fibrosis in Hep C sufferers and it uncovered an increased “progression rate” for fibrosis for those who used cannabis and a little bit of alcohol daily. This is in contrast to those patients who used cannabis without alcohol as it was found that the development of fibrosis in the patient didn’t progress further. This suggests that using cannabis can halt the progression of liver fibrosis in patients.
A subsequent study reaffirmed this link in 2013 found that patients who consume cannabis regularly do not suffer from heightened acceleration of liver disease. This study was comprehensive as it examined 700 patients with almost 2000 person years of additional checks. The lead researcher said that there was no evidence to suggest that using marijuana lead to a significant progression in liver fibrosis, which was echoed by many other experts.
Research has been made difficult because cannabis is currently banned under the Controlled Substances Act in the USA in many states. It is classified as an addictive substance with little medical value, which has angered most researchers who passionately believe cannabis can be used positively within the medical field.
In mid-2015, the US Congress voted against a bill which would have enabled researchers to study the medical effects of cannabis and CBD oil for long term conditions such as cancer. Many believe that curing cancer with cannabis is possible. This left further research into the area of liver fibrosis at a standstill, but campaigning continues across the USA to increase awareness of cannabis and its possible positive effects on liver fibrosis.