NASH has become more common in recent years, and it’s estimated to affect about 16 million Americans. It’s a type of a more broad condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects an estimated 64 million Americans. And NASH is set to surpass hepatitis as the biggest reason for liver transplants by 2020.Right now, the only way to treat NASH is through weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight and diet. It’s often called a “silent” disease because most people don’t know they have it. NASH doesn’t have many symptoms until its later stages, when it leads to problems like cirrhosis and liver failure.There’s a simple reason why the disease flew under the radar for so long, Mark Pruzanski, CEO of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, a company that’s focused on treatments for liver diseases including NASH, told Business Insider. “It’s because they didn’t see it,” he said.Historically, one of the leading causes of liver transplants has been “cryptogenic cirrhosis,” a condition that affects liver function and causes irreversible liver damage. But what caused many cases of the cryptogenic cirrhosis wasn’t known until recently.”It turns out most if not the vast majority of cryptogenic cirrhotics are NASH patients,” Pruzanski said. But as the liver starts to get more damaged, the fat and other telltale signs of NASH start to go away. By the time the person came in needing a transplant, it was no longer clear what led to the cirrhosis, making it hard to diagnose as NASH.Research shows that cannabis cannot only alleviate pain and inflammation of the liver, it can also treat the root cause of the condition.
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