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Marijuana is an addictive drug, the continuous and unchecked use of which causes detrimental problems in the lives of users.

These include lower life satisfaction, poor mental and physical health, relationship problems and academic failures. However, if used under physician-directed guidance, the drug has many significant medicinal uses.

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is the dried leaves, stems, flowers or seeds of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Hemp contains the chemical THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which has psychoactive properties, along with other related compounds. Smoking marijuana causes THC to pass rapidly from the lungs into the blood circulation, transporting the chemical to the brain and organs. Marijuana is also absorbed into the blood when ingested through food or liquid.

What Is 'Medical Marijuana'?

Medical marijuana refers to the use of its chemical components for medicinal or herbal therapy and treatment, as directed by a registered physician. As of December 2010, many states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, such as California, New Mexico and Washington.

Can Marijuana Help With Liver Damage?

The primary course of action taken to treat a patient diagnosed with chronic liver disease is completely abstaining from alcohol consumption. Irrespective of the cause and severity of liver damage, alcohol is a potent liver toxin that will cause significant harm to the patient. However, abstinence is much easier said than done. Patients on the road to recovery are constantly looking for something that will aid quitting alcohol, or replace it without causing further harm.

"Marijuana Maintenance" is a proposed method for treating people suffering from chronic liver damage. It focuses on the concept "harm reduction", which implies that alcohol can be substituted with a less harmful substance. After a lot of criticism and initial studies, which revealed no positive results, researches have now concluded that using medical marijuana may very well help with the symptoms and progression of liver damage.

Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics - New Perception about Marijuana (2003)

A study published in this journal claimed that marijuana could be very effective in "harm reduction" for the treatment of alcoholism and liver damage. Tod Mikuriya, MD strengthened this argument by saying that marijuana had fewer side effects as compared to alcohol and prescription drugs. Medical marijuana was much less expensive in comparison to the prescription drugs as well. Marijuana Maintenance may not be the best option, but it is definitely the lesser of the two evils, and may be very helpful for those trying to quit alcohol and prevent further liver damage.

Clinical Infectious Diseases - Marijuana May Provide Relief from Liver Diseases (2013)

A recently published study found that there was no significant link between the use of marijuana and progression of liver disease. The study comprised of 690 patients with Hepatitis C (a viral disease of the liver). Results showed that smoking marijuana provided relief in the symptoms of liver disease, such as loss of appetite and nausea.

Free Radical Biology and Medicine - Marijuana May Protect Against Alcohol Related Liver Damage (2014)

This study revealed cannabidiol, a compound present in marijuana, could be involved in preventing liver damage via alcohol consumption. Cannabidiol was reported to have antioxidant properties, thus protecting the liver from alcohol-induced steatosis (fat deposition in the liver) as well as alcohol-generated oxidative stress-induced steatosis.

Conclusion

It must be noted that these studies do not promote or encourage the smoking of marijuana. However, after going through the facts, there is strong evidence that implies a reverse causation: the idea that using medical marijuana actually treats the symptoms of liver damage and slows disease progression.

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