The symptoms of acute alcoholic pancreatitis are less severe in those with a history of cannabis
Patients with acute alcoholic pancreatitis (AAP) who have a history with cannabis, have less severe symptoms compared to non-users. This is what a new study published in the journal Translational Gastroenterology and Hepatology reports.
Acute alcoholic pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis is linked to alcohol. These are acute attacks of abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting that occur during inflammation of the pancreas. Acute episodes are often precipitated by increased alcohol consumption. In more severe cases, the disease can cause profound metabolic abnormalities and circulatory collapse.
In the new study, researchers at the Mercer School of Medicine retrospectively examined the severity of acute alcoholic pancreatitis in patients when they were admitted to The Medical Center hospital in Macon, Ga., Between January 2006 and December 2015.
To measure the severity of pancreatitis, the researchers assessed the nitrogen of the urea in the blood. As well as the index for the severity of the acute pancreatitis score (BISAP). And concerned also, the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and the computed tomography of Balthazar (CT). Of the 116 patients in total analyzed, the researchers identified 38 patients who had used cannabis and 76 tested negative for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The patients were then adapted for gender and age.
The researchers found that the patients who tested positive for cannabis had milder manifestations of acute alcoholic pancreatitis. Also, they were less likely to be placed in the intensive care unit (ICU) compared to those who had tested negative for the substance.
"[W] e found that cannabis positive patients had a less severe presentation of AAP indicating that cannabis could modulate the inflammatory effects of alcohol on the pancreas," the researchers concluded.
An anti-inflammatory effect on the pancreas
Previous studies have indicated that cannabinoids may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the pancreas. In 2013, researchers found that injected cannabidiol (CBD) reduced inflammation in the pancreas of sick mice. A 2007 study found traces of cannabinoids can:
"To abolish the pain associated with acute pancreatitis and partially reduce inflammation and pathology in the absence of unwanted side effects".
The researchers again observed these effects of pain relief and pancreatic protection of cannabinoids in mice with chronic pancreatitis 2014.
The two cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system, CB1 and CB2, are found in the pancreas. According to the study, their presence increases even further during an inflammatory response. Thus allowing phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD to act on receptors and encourage an anti-inflammatory response and pain relief.
Twenty-nine states in the United States and Washington DC have passed laws allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Researchers suggest that cannabis use is likely to increase as more states legalize the substance. Which will increase the need for more research.
“Studies are needed to identify and quantify the effects of cannabis on acute pancreatitis,” they concluded. "In addition, large-scale studies are needed to characterize the effect of cannabis on acute pancreatitis."
You can access the full text of the study, "Severity and Outcomes of Acute Alcoholic Pancreatitis in Cannabis Users", through the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health of the United States.