According to a new retrospective study published in the journal Translational Gastroenterology and Hepatology, patients with a history of cannabis use experience less severe symptoms of acute alcoholic pancreatitis (AAP) than those who abstain from cannabis use. AAP produces acute bouts of abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting in patients with progressive and irreversible damage to the pancreas gland caused by prolonged and extreme drinking. Researchers from the Mercer School of Medicine examined the severity of AAP in 116 patients by looking at blood urea nitrogen, bedside index for severity in acute pancreatitis (BISAP) score, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and Balthazar computed tomography (CT) scan grade, at the time they were admitted into a tertiary care teaching hospital between January 2006 and December 2015. Of those patients, 38 were identified as having a history of cannabis use, and 76 tested negative for THC. Patients were then matched based on their age and sex. Patients who tested positive for cannabis displayed less severe manifestations of AAP and were less likely to visit the ICU than those who tested negative.
Researchers explained, “[W]e found that cannabis positive patients had less severe presentation of AAP indicating that cannabis could modulate the inflammatory effects of alcohol on the pancreas.” These results support previous studies that suggested cannabinoids had anti-inflammatory effects on the pancreas, and that cannabinoids relieved pain associated with AAP. The researchers still conclude that further large scale studies are necessary to determine the effects cannabis has on AAP.
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