Best CBD Oil for Liver Damage – June 2022
Liver damage treatment depends on the underlying condition. Some liver problems can be remedied with lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight or stopping alcohol. Some may require treatment or surgery (5) . Diuretics and lactulose are the most common treatments for advanced liver disease, called cirrhosis.
Medication for autoimmune liver damage often involves corticosteroids. Treatments, such as prednisone, may cause side effects, such as glaucoma, weight gain, high blood pressure, and mood swings (6) .
Moreover, surgery or a liver transplant may result in several complications, such as infection, bleeding, seizures, failure, or rejection of the donated liver (7) . However, the benefits of a liver transplant are generally greater than the risks and it is potentially lifesaving.
The side effects of these treatments have caused individuals to look for a supplemental approach to treating their livers.
Moreover, some individuals with liver conditions that cannot be treated with pharmaceutical drugs are also on the lookout to reclaim their health.
CBD is becoming a popular alternative for many health problems. However, there are still many questions about whether CBD can help with liver damage or not.
While some studies have acknowledged CBD’s potential ability to stimulate liver regeneration through in vitro and vivo experiments, there are studies that link CBD to liver damage in animal subjects.
CBD vs. Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a liver condition caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). There is currently no vaccine for this infection. Infected individuals may experience fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, joint pain, and jaundice.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there were new 1.25 million HCV infections worldwide (8) .
An in vitro study found that CBD might have bioactivities against HCV. The study added that CBD’s direct antiviral activity indicated that it might be effective against viral and nonviral hepatitis (autoimmune hepatitis) (9) .
Although the study showed promising results of CBD against HCV, it was also noted that CBD did not affect the hepatitis B virus (10) .
Individuals must consult a physician before considering the use of CBD for hepatitis C. Untreated hepatitis C may lead to long-term infection known as chronic hepatitis C, which may result in severe liver damage (11) . Also, now there are other safe, effective treatments for Hepatitis C available.
CBD vs. Alcoholic Liver Disease
Alcoholism can induce hepatosteatosis (fatty liver disease), commonly known as alcoholic liver disease (ALD).
With early detection and lifestyle change, ALD is reversible. If left untreated, however, this can later progress to severe liver problems, such as cirrhosis and hepatitis.
Researchers found that oxidative stress is one of the primary factors in inducing steatosis. A study demonstrated that CBD reduced ethanol-induced liver injury on animal subjects by reducing oxidative stress (12) .
Moreover, the study observed how CBD stimulated autophagy (removal of damaged liver cells) during in vitro and vivo experiments.
The study noted how all these mechanisms might be essential for alleviating steatosis.
CBD vs. Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
As the name implies, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NALD) is a condition concerning individuals who consume little to no alcohol. It is caused by excess fat accumulation in the liver.
- Overweight or obesity
- Insulin resistance
- High levels of triglycerides (fat) in the body
- High blood sugar
Management of NAFLD may be challenging since no prescription treatment has been approved for the condition (13) . Health experts will recommend a change in lifestyle and diet habits to lose weight and reverse the fat deposition.
A study posted on Hepatology mentioned that high-fat diets might result in elevated leptin levels and plasma insulin.
The increase in glucose levels is often accompanied by hyperglycemia, indicating that the body is insulin resistant (14) .
Many scientists have tested CBD’s efficacy for weight loss. A recent study posted in the Frontiers in Endocrinology mentioned the positive influence of CBD on the liver.
The administration of CBD reduced intracellular lipid (fat) content in an in vitro hepatosteatosis model. The review also acknowledged the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD (15) .
Moreover, a 2017 study published by Plos One conducted a study on cannabis users and found a strong relationship between cannabis use and reduced prevalence of NAFLD (16) .
More clinical studies are needed to verify CBD’s efficacy in reducing lipid content in the liver and its anti-obesity properties.
How CBD Oil Works to Help With Liver Damage
The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) is composed of G-protein-coupled receptors, such as the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2).
CB1 receptors are located throughout the body. The majority of them are located in the central nervous system. CB2 receptors can be found primarily in the immune system (17) .
The endocannabinoid system has been studied for decades for its role in modulating various physiological functions and peripheral organs.
Modulating the ECS activity might have several therapeutic responses to health conditions and diseases (18) .
A study released in Pharmacological Reviews mentioned evidence indicating the role of the ECS in the control of gastrointestinal motility and secretion.
The authors in the study further expounded how the ECS can influence appetite, energy, weight balance, and metabolism. They f ound that administering a CB1 antagonist reduced food intake and body weight among animal test subjects.
The study also mentioned that CB1 receptor knockout mice treated with CB1 antagonists were resistant to diet-induced obesity (DIO) (19) .
Another study posted in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences discussed how CB1 antagonists reduced obesity in DIO mice (20) .
The role of the CB2 receptor was discussed by a study published in Hepatology . This study tested how the CB2 receptor agonist improved fibrogenesis and accelerated liver regeneration (21) .
The British Journal of Pharmacology posted a study that explained how CBD might have the ability to behave as a CB2 receptor inverse agonist, which may contribute to anti-inflammatory properties (22) .
The British Journal of Pharmacology also published a study that explained how CBD might work as both cannabinoid receptor agonists and antagonists. The study mentioned how CBD, in low doses, might act as CB1 antagonist (23) .
This is supported by an independent 2019 study published in the Canadian Journal of Kidney Health and Disease. In the study, the scientists used CBD to block CB1 receptors of insulin-resistant rats, preventing proteinuria and renal function decline. This study has shown that CBD can act as a CB1 antagonist (24) .
The study from the British Journal of Pharmacology further explained that CBD might behave as a CB2 receptor antagonist and inhibit immune cell migration and reduce signs of inflammation (25) .
Moreover, CBD has been shown to stimulate CB2 receptors during an in vitro study. This interaction resulted in the proliferation of T-cells and macrophages responsible for the release of inflammatory cytokines that cause autoimmune hepatitis (26) .
Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Liver Damage
- CBD might improve symptoms of acute liver failure, thus serving as a potential therapeutic agent for treating human hepatic encephalopathy (27) .
- During an in vitro study, CBD displayed bioactivities against the hepatitis C virus. CBD’s direct antiviral activity indicated that it might be useful against viral and nonviral hepatitis (28) .
- A study has shown that CBD might be useful in reducing alcohol liver injury by reducing oxidative stress (29) .
- An in vitro study demonstrated how CBD reduced intracellular lipid content in the fatty liver model (30) .
- CBD might have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could help maintain homeostasis in the liver (31) . However, very high doses could cause liver damage.
- Liver damage caused by high-dose CBD is generally reversible when CBD or other medications are reduced or stopped altogether according to the FDA studies on Epidiolex.
- Many distinguished health agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that CBD is generally well-tolerated and safe (32) .
- Prescriptions are not needed when buying CBD oil.
- According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CBD in high doses can lead to liver injury (33) .
- The CBD industry remains unregulated. Individuals should research product specifications, third-party laboratory tests, testimonials, and reviews.
- CBD might have several drug interactions with other medications. Always consult a physician before taking CBD. Liver disease is serious and treatment should always be medically supervised.
- CBD cannot treat, prevent, cure, diagnose, or mitigate any disease other than certain rare childhood seizures.
How Does CBD Compare to Other Alternative Treatments?
There are several herbal treatments available for individuals who want to treat their liver conditions naturally. However, health experts have discovered that these may also cause harm if caution is not exercised (34) .
Sho-saiko-to is an herbal medicine used for chronic hepatitis in China and Japan. Its use as an oriental classical medicine was first introduced 1500 years ago.
Various clinical studies suggested t hat Sho-saiko-to might help protect against the development of hepatocellular carcinoma among individuals with cirrhosis. However, the mechanism for this remains unclear (35) .
The Ministry of Health and Welfare in Japan, who had approved Sho-saiko-to as a treatment for liver disease, had to revisit the efficacy of the herb as it caused adverse respiratory effects among patients, resulting in 10 deaths (36) .
Silymarin (milk thistle) is another natural herb that is used to treat liver and biliary disorders. The oldest reported use of Silymarin dates back to the ancient Greeks and Roman period when people used the plant to treat snake bites and liver conditions (37) .
Holy basil is another plant that is believed to have hepatoprotective properties. The plant contains phytochemicals that have analgesic and anti-inflammation properties (38) .
Like most of the herbal treatments mentioned, CBD is also a natural compound derived from Cannabis sativa (hemp). The use of cannabis sativa started during the medieval Islamic period when physicians used the plant to treat various conditions (39) .
A study has shown how CBD restored liver and brain function among animal subjects with induced-hepatic failure. The study also acknowledged the anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties of CBD, which could help in maintaining homeostasis in the liver (40) .
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil for Liver Damage
CBD oil comes in three types of concentrations.
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids present in hemp , such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is the cannabinoid known for producing psychoactive effects. In a full-spectrum CBD concentrate, THC levels cannot exceed the U.S. legal limit of 0.3%.
Many studies have shown that THC may also have some hepatoprotection properties.
A study published in Hepatology found that THC attenuated the progression of autoimmune hepatitis in animal subjects. Results indicated the decreased plasma levels of liver enzymes, inflammatory cytokines, and reduced tissue injury (41) .
For individuals who want the benefits of all the cannabinoids present in hemp, full-spectrum CBD oil is the best option.
Although the full-spectrum concentrate has very low THC, some individuals prefer not to have THC in their system due to work and other personal reasons. Therefore, their next option can be broad-spectrum.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids present in hemp, except for THC.
Lastly, CBD isolate is a concentrate made especially for individuals who want to take CBD into their system. CBD isolates may be good for people who want CBD without the presence of carrier oils and other cannabinoids.
Since individuals with liver problems may be vulnerable to many substances and compounds, it is advisable to do extensive research before choosing a CBD brand.
The certificate of analysis (COA) is a third-party lab result presented by legitimate CBD brands who want to assure their customers that their concentrations are the same as what they advertise.
The COA also indicates that the extract is free from harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants. Moreover, the COA specifies the extraction process used for the CBD oil concentration.
For individuals with liver problems, it is recommended that they choose CBD oil with CO2-extraction. This is a method that does not use any solvents.
- Vaping enthusiasts should choose a CBD brand that does not use fillers and other toxic substances, like propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol. CBD vapes that contain nicotine are also harmful.
- The carrier oil may be an essential factor to consider due to allergy, intolerance, and liver safety issues. Carrier oils can be hempseed oil, MCT (unrefined coconut oil), grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, or avocado oil.
- Choose non-GMO organic hemp. This is usually specified by the brand.
- Do some additional research by reading testimonials and recommendations from other customers.
- Remember that CBD can cause liver damage in very high doses
It is strongly recommended that individuals suffering from mild to severe liver damage consult a hepatologist before adding CBD to their daily regimen.
Discussing the formulation and ingredients used with your physician may be crucial for one’s liver health. Never attempt to diagnose or treat yourself.
CBD Dosage for Liver Damage
There is currently no universal dosage recommended for CBD users. However, it is recommended that one starts with a low dose.
A 2019 study released in the British Journal of Pharmacology recommended that CBD be taken from less than 1 to 50 milligram per kilogram a day (42) . Once the system gets used to CBD, the dosage may be increased.
One must also use discretion when using CBD and always discuss their dosage with physicians. CBD may cause liver injury when used in high dosages (43) .
How to Take CBD Oil for Liver Damage
The most recommended approach to taking CBD for liver damage is through CBD tinctures. One can use a dropper to put CBD oil under the tongue.
CBD vape is another option to consider for individuals who do not want to take CBD oil orally. Some experts consider vaping to be a more effective and faster mode of delivery (44) .
However, one must make sure that the CBD oil or cartridge does not contain harmful chemicals that can further damage the liver (45) .
Can CBD Oil Cause Liver Damage?
Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved medication that contains CBD oil. It is primarily used for children with rare forms of epilepsy. However, Epidiolex in doses higher than the recommended 10-20 milligram per kilogram per day may cause liver injury (46) .
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences posted a review in 2019 that showed how higher doses of CBD oil on 8-week old mice models led to liver toxicity (47) . Molecules published this study, followed by Forbes and other media entities.
The dosage amounts used in the study were 246mg/kg, 738mg/kg, and 2460mg/kg. The study later observed that a single dose of 2460 mg/kg exhibited hepatotoxicity and increased bilirubin. They also added that a similar response was observed among monkeys injected with lethal CBD doses.
The authors explained that the purpose of this experiment was to study the potential effects of lethal doses of CBD among living organisms. They added that the dosage that produced fatal results in the study does not apply to real-life scenarios (48) .
The authors also mentioned that more studies are needed to determine the consequences of prolonged use of CBD.
Another thing to note in the study is that scientists used hexane as the extraction solvent for their CBD concentrate. Hexane is a chemical made from crude oil and is a potentially toxic compound when used on animals and humans (49) .
Most CBD oil manufacturers use three extraction methods, such as hydrocarbon extraction, ethanol extraction, and CO2-extraction. The extraction method should be indicated in the certificate of analysis (COA).
Individuals are advised to always research the brand properly before purchasing. The COA is crucial in determining if the CBD concentrate is safe and free from harmful chemicals.
Studies have shown that CBD might have hepatoprotection properties. It has been indicated that CBD can reduce lipid content and reduce oxidative stress in alcoholic liver injury (50) .
It has also been shown that CBD might have bioactivities against the hepatitis C virus (51) . Lastly, a study has shown that CBD might potentially restore liver function during hepatic encephalopathy (52) .
CBD and Liver Damage: How Does It Affect Liver Functions?
As the use of CBD is booming across the United States, people have become more aware of its health benefits as well as potential risks associated with the consumption of CBD products.
One recent study has sparked concerns among CBD users when it comes to liver function. While the study did show that extremely large amounts of CBD can damage the liver, the news coverage that warned about the potential risk of taking CBD failed to put the study into context.
It goes without saying that CBD — like any supplement or medication — does have side effects, including dose-dependent danger to liver health. However, while users using the peak-tested dosages should have their liver enzymes in check, the vast majority of people can safely use CBD without worrying about a negative impact on their liver function.
In this article, we’ll explain the context of the said study and provide evidence supporting the health benefits of regular doses of CBD for liver health.
Let’s resolve the doubts surrounding the topic of CBD and liver function.
Is CBD Oil Bad for Your Liver?
CBD has a remarkably good safety profile. Researchers have tested the efficacy and safety of CBD in humans using doses as high as 1,500 mg – 3000 mg CBD daily.
With 1,500 mg of CBD taken for a six-week period, no dangerous side effects were observed (1).
However, the recent 2019 study on mice showed that high doses of CBD can damage the liver — causing widespread sensation all over the media.
The study has also garnered attention among CBD skeptics who have been trying to undermine the therapeutic potential of CBD looking for at least one serious side effect.
Now, we’re not saying CBD doesn’t have any side effects — it does, like any other health supplement — but should you actually worry about your liver when you use normal doses?
Let’s shed some light on the infamous study on mice.
The Study on CBD and the Liver of Mice
According to researchers from the University of Arkansas, who investigated the effects of treatments of various doses of CBD on a group of 8-week-old mice, the study addressed the problem of a “lack of comprehensive toxicological studies devoted to CBD safety that are critical for further marketing of CBD and CBD-containing products.” (2)
The majority of mice tolerated the CBD, but those administered the highest doses — an equivalent to 200 mg of CBD in humans — showed clear symptoms of liver toxicity, as reported by the researchers.
In addition, repeated doses of a smaller amount of CBD (50 mg) also showed signs of liver damage and swelling.
Here’s what the authors wrote at the end of the paper:
“Although (a dose of) 200 mg is not applicable to most real-life scenarios, it does provide critical information regarding the potential consequences of CBD overdose as well as for doses needed for further subchronic and chronic toxicity studies.”
However, one of the caveats of this study was that it tested the maximum recommended daily dosage for humans. While all mammals share the same endocannabinoid system, mice and humans are different physiologically. The size of the liver is just one of the many variables that should be taken into consideration when evaluating the safety of CBD in human subjects.
Experts Say It’s About the Dosage
Although the results of the above study sound potentially discouraging, most experts say there’s no need to freak out over the impact of CBD on the liver. While experts stress the importance of knowing the risks of taking health supplements, the amount of CBD the mice were exposed to is much higher than what most humans take.
According to Dr. Diana Martins-Welch, attending physician in palliative medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York, there are certain quantities in which CBD may not be safe for humans; CBD also isn’t always more effective in high doses.
“Many people know that taking too much ibuprofen or Tylenol can have detrimental consequences. CBD is no different. Generally speaking, therapeutic CBD doses range from 0.5 mg/kg/day to 20 mg/kg per day. This study in mice used significantly higher doses of CBD (in relation to their weight) than what is usually taken for therapeutic benefit in humans.” Martins-Welch explained.
Martins-Welch also said that therapeutic-range CBD is generally safe, and while toxicity at extremely high doses is a concern, it is no different than with other supplements or medicines.
Therefore, what the study essentially showed was how people need to be careful if they take high doses of CBD daily.
Human studies that have examined the safety of different doses of CBD have found no negative effects at the recommended maximum daily dosage of 20 mg/kg. This dosage was taken from the trial of Epidiolex, a CBD-based pharmaceutical for treatment-resistant seizures. To put that in context, an individual weighing 150 pounds would need to take over 1,300 mg of CBD per day, which is way above what most people take (10–80 mg daily).
Effects of CBD On the Liver
Okay, so now you know that extremely high doses of CBD may cause liver toxicity when taken regularly. You also know that it’s impossible to trigger toxicity with normal doses of CBD oil.
Now it’s time to ask a different question: what positive effects does CBD have on the liver?
There are plenty, to be honest.
In the next section, we elaborate on the potential therapeutic uses of CBD oil for liver function.
CBD Oil for Fatty Liver
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is found in all mammals and consists of receptors (CB1 and CB2) endogenous cannabinoids, and enzymes that facilitate their production or break them down.
The ECS is responsible for regulating many of our homeostatic control processes. In other words, this network controls the balance of various systems and organs in the body, including the liver.
When the liver gets damaged, inflamed, or dysfunctional, the body starts to release more endocannabinoids to solve the problem. A healthy liver is correlated with a modest activity of the endocannabinoid system. In fact, this particular organ has a relatively low concentration of the ECS components.
However, inflammation in the liver causes the endocannabinoid to be very active in this area. Unfortunately, an overactive endocannabinoid system plays a role in the development of fatty liver disease (3).
CBD is the modulator of CB1 and CB2 receptors. In simple English, it keeps them from going crazy by stopping the compounds that make these receptors go haywire in the liver.
CBD ensures the proper functioning of a system that balances us. So while it won’t cure fatty liver disease, it can prevent its development. And should the disease occur, it may be able to reduce the inflammation in the organ, protecting it against further damage.
CBD Oil for Liver Cancer
To this day, studies on cannabinoids and their effect on liver cancer show that cannabinoids can both prevent the dividing of tumor cells and kill cancer cells while protecting the healthy ones. Besides stopping cancer proliferation, there are several mechanisms CBD uses to help tackle liver cancer.
First, it provides anti-metastatic actions, preventing distant tumor masses from forming in the liver.
Second, it prevents the formation of blood vessels that facilitate tumor growth.
And last but not least, CBD triggers apoptosis, which is programmed cell death. Researchers have found this ability during animal and laboratory models; these properties apply to both CBD and THC (4).
Although no study has yet analyzed the effects of CBD on liver cancer in humans, current research supports the use of cannabinoids as a complementary therapy as well as a means of reducing the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
CBD Oil for Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is one of the most common infectious diseases characterized by inflammation. It is also a great contributor to many deaths globally. Hepatitis can lead to the formation of liver cancer and cirrhosis.
CBD has been shown to have therapeutic effects on the models of viral hepatitis, especially Hepatitis C. According to a study published in the journal Pharmacognosy Research, CBD was shown to inhibit the replication of hepatitis C virus by almost 90% (5).
The inhibitory effects on the virus were dose-dependent but showed little toxicity towards the cells. CBD was also found to induce death in the infected cells containing the hepatitis B virus, although it did not inhibit the virus itself.
Finally, the attenuation of the immune response through the interaction with the ECS in the immune cells may help in alleviating autoimmune hepatitis.
CBD Oil for Hepatic Ischemia
Ischemia is a very common injury that occurs as an aftermath of liver surgeries and liver transplantations. It involves major inflammation and is responsible for deaths in the case of transplants and rejections. Oxidative stress can worsen the condition.
CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, so it could be useful in reducing the inflammatory response and protecting the liver against oxidative damage. In experimental models, CBD effectively reduced inflammation, oxidative stress, and promoted the death of malignant cells in the liver.
Other studies found that administration of CBD to the rats with ischemic liver injury resulted in a significant reduction of liver damage associated with the condition (6).
CBD Oil for Hepatic Encephalopathy
Hepatic encephalopathy is characterized by psychological changes resulting from the damage and failure of the liver. Some symptoms include altered personality, confusion, movement problems, etc. It can lead to a coma in severe cases.
Inflammation is one of the main causes of hepatic encephalopathy. A study conducted on mice models of hepatic encephalopathy reported positive effects. The research team observed that applying CBD to mice could restore the neurological functions and cognitive performance in the mice. CBD also reduced the levels of ammonia in the blood, helping restore liver function and normalize the number of liver enzymes (7).
CBD Oil for Autoimmune Hepatitis
Autoimmune hepatitis results from a weakened immune system that attacks the liver. Again, inflammation is the key player in the development of this disease. One study has reported that the activation of TRPV1 vanilloid receptor — part of the ECS — lowers inflammation by activating myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). These cells, in turn, block inflammation and the development of autoimmune hepatitis.
CBD happens to activate the TRPV1 receptors, not only reducing the pain but also inhibiting the proliferation of T cells that trigger inflammation (8). Therefore, it’s within reason to assume that CBD could be used for the prevention and treatment of liver inflammation and autoimmune hepatitis.
CBD Oil for Alcohol-Induced Liver Injury
Liver fibrosis is a common result of chronic liver damage caused by binge drinking. It can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
CBD has been shown to have anti-fibrosis properties by eliminating cells that secrete collagen and cause fibrosis. It can also reverse alterations in the liver associated with alcohol-induced injury (9).
Does CBD Oil Increase Liver Enzymes?
The studies performed on how CBD affects liver function have brought conflicting results.
For example, one study found that 10% of the subjects had higher levels of liver enzymes and had to stop using CBD for this reason. Other studies suggest that CBD can improve liver function. Since CBD is metabolized by the liver — as shown by the studies done on Epidiolex — patients with liver diseases should limit over-the-counter (OTC) medications to avoid potential CBD-drug interactions and reduce the stress experienced by the liver.
Long story short, CBD is generally safe for your liver enzymes if you don’t exceed the dose of 20 mg CBD/kg/day.
CBD Dosage for Liver
If you’re looking to improve liver function with CBD oil, you’re probably wondering how much CBD is enough to provide relief from pain and inflammation and to keep this organ healthy.
Unfortunately, there are no official dosage recommendations when it comes to CBD and the liver. Most clinical trials that suggest specific dosages of CBD have been performed on anxiety, chronic disorder such as epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis models in humans. No clinical study has yet investigated the efficacy of different doses of CBD on the symptoms of liver disease.
The optimal amount of CBD for each individual depends on factors such as weight, metabolism, age, gender, the severity of symptoms, and previous history with CBD products.
The best approach you can take is to start low and gradually increase the dose until you experience the desired relief. We suggest that you start with 5–10 mg CBD and try it out for one week, monitoring the effects. If you deem the dose insufficient, add another 5 milligrams and continue for another week, reassessing the results.
We also encourage you to consult a doctor knowledgeable about CBD and cannabis in general. A qualified physician should help you avoid potential interactions with other medications and determine the right dosage range.
Side Effects of CBD
As mentioned earlier in the article, CBD has an excellent safety profile. People turn to CBD because it’s a low-risk alternative to conventional treatment options for liver disease. That being said, it has a few relatively mild effects when consumed in high doses, including:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
Some of these side effects may result from consuming a mislabeled product that has more than 0.3% THC, or one that has been sourced from poor-quality hemp or extracted with aggressive solvents. When you take high-quality CBD oil at regular doses, the above side effects are nearly non-existent.
However, there’s a risk of potential drug interactions, as CBD is metabolized by the same group of enzymes that process active ingredients in pharmaceuticals. As an inhibitor of those enzymes, CBD can lead to either subtherapeutic effects or substance toxicity when taken along with medications for liver function. That’s why we recommend consulting a doctor before adding CBD oil to your routine.
CBD Oil and Liver: Bottom Line
The liver is a fundamental detoxifying organ that performs many important functions to keep the body in the optimum state. It plays a role in digestion, detoxification, drug metabolism, and more.
There are many diseases affecting the liver as it is constantly exposed to environmental damage from pollutants, alcohol, drugs, medications, etc. It is also prone to autoimmune diseases.
CBD has been shown to have therapeutic effects in many major liver diseases, including viral hepatitis, fatty liver disease, ischemia-reperfusion injury, cirrhosis, fibrosis, and liver cancer.
High-quality full-spectrum CBD oil could be beneficial in a range of disorders that involve liver dysfunction and might help replace the long-term use of other medications.
Although extremely high doses of CBD taken daily have been associated with liver toxicity, so have other supplements and medications. Therefore, it’s best to keep your use of CBD within reason. Doses as high as 20 mg of CBD per kg don’t pose a threat to your liver’s health, as tested in the clinical trial of Epidiolex, a CBD-based anti-seizure medication.
Patients should seek medical consultation before incorporating CBD into their routine to discuss the dosage and establish the right time schedule to avoid potential interactions with other medications.
- Iffland, Kerstin, and Franjo Grotenhermen. “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research vol. 2,1 139-154. 1 Jun. 2017, doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034
- Ewing, Laura E et al. “Hepatotoxicity of a Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis Extract in the Mouse Model.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)vol. 24,9 1694. 30 Apr. 2019, doi:10.3390/molecules24091694
- Purohit, Vishnudutt et al. “Role of cannabinoids in the development of fatty liver (steatosis).” The AAPS journal vol. 12,2 (2010): 233-7. doi:10.1208/s12248-010-9178-0
- Vara, D et al. “Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids on hepatocellular carcinoma: role of AMPK-dependent activation of autophagy.” Cell death and differentiation vol. 18,7 (2011): 1099-111. doi:10.1038/cdd.2011.32
- Lowe, Henry I C et al. “Potential of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Viral Hepatitis.” Pharmacognosy research vol. 9,1 (2017): 116-118. doi:10.4103/0974-8490.199780
- Fouad, Amr A, and Iyad Jresat. “Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol against ischemia/reperfusion liver injury in rats.” European journal of pharmacology vol. 670,1 (2011): 216-23. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.08.048
- Avraham, Y et al. “Cannabidiol improves brain and liver function in a fulminant hepatic failure-induced model of hepatic encephalopathy in mice.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 162,7 (2011): 1650-8. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01179.x
- Muller, Chanté et al. “Cannabinoid Ligands Targeting TRP Channels.” Frontiers in molecular neuroscience vol. 11 487. 15 Jan. 2019, doi:10.3389/fnmol.2018.00487
- Zurier, Robert B, and Sumner H Burstein. “Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis.” FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology vol. 30,11 (2016): 3682-3689. doi:10.1096/fj.201600646R
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
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CBD For Liver Disease (NAFLD & AFLD): What the Research Says
Studies have shown that people who regularly use cannabis have fewer incidences of fatty liver disease.
How does this work?
Can CBD oil support people with liver disease?
Fatty liver disease is a serious, but common medical condition.
Some studies have shown it to be present in about 16% of the population .
It’s a problem that tends to get worse until, eventually, it results in liver failure.
There are currently no known cures for the disease, however, recent evidence has suggested that CBD can be extremely beneficial for the condition.
Here, we investigate these claims, how they may work, and how CBD oil can be used to support fatty liver disease.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on June 05, 2021
Table of Contents
$49 – $229
Royal CBD Oil 30 mL
5 / 5
|Total CBD:||500 – 2500 mg|
|Potency:||16.6 – 83.3 mg/mL|
|Cost per mg CBD:||$0.12 – $0.18|
The Benefits of CBD Oil For Fatty Liver Disease
CBD oil has indirect benefits for fatty liver disease. Research has shown CBD protects the liver by preventing overreaction of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). When the liver becomes stressed (due to poor diet or exposure to toxic compounds), the endocannabinoid system becomes highly active in the liver.
It’s this activation of the ECS leads to a buildup of fatty acid particles in the liver. CBD may prevent this from happening and may help slow the progression of the disease.
The only way to effectively treat fatty liver disease is through diet and lifestyle modifications. CBD oil can help support the condition, but won’t offer a cure.
The Best CBD Oils For Fatty Liver Disease
Guide to Using CBD Oil For Fatty Liver Disease
In recent years, there’s been a lot of reports that marijuana users suffered less frequently from obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome [3-5], all of which are key drivers of fatty liver disease.
This is even more interesting when these researchers began looking at the diets of cannabis users and non-users.
On average, cannabis users ate more junk foods, soda, and alcohol than non-users , yet still had lower incidences of metabolic disease.
So this had researchers wondering;
“Could marijuana and CBD oil be used to prevent or treat fatty liver disease?”
A large research study analyzed the effects of CBD on 22,366 patients, many of which had active fatty liver disease or earlier stages of metabolic syndrome. Researchers in this study confirmed that the chances of developing fatty liver disease were much lower in those who were active cannabis users, though they were unable to suggest a mechanism for these effects .
Other studies have since been published that shed some light on how this works.
In order to get into the details of how this works, let’s discuss the role of the endocannabinoid system in the liver, and how this plays an important role in fatty liver disease.
What’s The Dose of CBD Oil For Fatty Liver Disease?
Dosing CBD for fatty liver disease is very similar to dosing it for other conditions.
Because the cannabinoids affect everybody so differently, it’s recommended that you always start with a lower dose (around 1 mg per day) and increase gradually from there.
Some people will stay at this 1 mg dose, while others may need substantially more, perhaps around the 30 mg mark,
The best way to find out the dose for you is to take 1 mg, then increase by 4 mg each day.
If side effects are noted (such as drowsiness, nausea, or poor appetite) simply reduce the dose to the last one that produced no side effects and stay there.
Fatty liver disease is a long-term, chronic condition, and will, therefore, need to be taken over a long period of time.
We recommend taking a high-quality CBD oil for 6 or 12 months, with regular follow-ups with your doctor to see any progression.
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What is Fatty Liver Disease?
Fatty liver disease is exactly what it sounds like: fat deposits in the liver.
When this happens, the fat deposits will start to interfere with the liver’s ability to function. If left unchecked, it will eventually lead to much more serious health problems.
There are two types of fatty liver disease:
1. Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by metabolic dysfunctions in the body.
Our liver plays a major role in the regulation of both sugar and fat metabolism.
The liver teams up with the pancreas and adrenal glands to control our blood sugar levels and fat burning or storage.
When we eat too much sugar or refined carbohydrates like chips, white bread, or candy, and don’t exercise enough, our body stops listening to one of the hormones secreted by the pancreas — insulin.
This is the starting point for fatty liver disease.
As soon as insulin stops working, the body no longer uses sugar the way it’s supposed to, causing it to build up to dangerous levels in the blood.
The liver needs to work much harder to stop the build-up of sugar from causing damage to the body. It does this by converting the sugar into stored fat.
When this happens, fat droplets accumulate inside the liver cells themselves.
Over time, these fat droplets will grow and take up more and more space inside the liver.
This causes damage to the liver cells, making them less effective at doing the job they’re meant to do. As the liver cells die, they trigger inflammation in the area, causing the liver to swell and become even less effective.
With long-term inflammation, the liver will begin to fill up with scar tissue, known as fibrosis.
These scars cause permanent changes to the liver, making it ineffective, and eventually leading to more serious symptoms.
NAFLD is driven by poor diet and lack of exercise.
2. Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD)
Alcoholic fatty liver is caused by long-term alcoholism.
The body can generally tolerate small amounts of alcohol relatively well, however, large amounts are problematic to the body.
There are 3 different ways the liver can metabolize alcohol, the main one being a pathway called alcohol dehydrogenase. There are many steps to this process, but the most important thing to know is that it requires a lot of energy to function.
This energy comes in the form of something called NAD+.
NAD+ can be thought of as a cellular currency for energy.
In order for the liver to get access to enough NAD+ to fuel alcohol metabolism, it needs to build a lot of fat. This is because NAD+ is a byproduct of building fat.
This leads to a buildup of fatty acids in the liver.
Over long periods of time, this fat can build-up to the point where it starts to get in the way, no matter where the liver tries to put it. There is simply too much.
By the time fatty liver disease symptoms show up in an alcoholic, there’s already a great deal of damage done, and it’s very difficult to repair, even with CBD oil.
CBD oil is best used for people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, so this is going to be the main focus of this article.
Diet & Lifestyle Modifications
As you can see, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused primarily by lifestyle and diet factors.
Diets with too much sugar or refined carbohydrates, poor exercise, and excessive alcohol intake are all key drivers in the condition.
Therefore, anything you take to help the condition is going to come secondary to changing the causes. This means visiting a holistic nutritionist, or dietitian, and working on changing your habits around food and alcohol.
CBD oil can go a long way if used in combination with these changes but will do very little on its own.
The Endocannabinoid System & Fatty Liver Disease
The endocannabinoid system is found in all mammals.
It’s a system of receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors) and endogenous cannabinoids that are responsible for regulating many of our homeostatic control mechanisms.
In simple English, this means that the endocannabinoid system controls the balance of various systems in the body.
When our organs become damaged, inflamed, or dysfunctional, we find a noticeable increase in the endocannabinoid activity in the area, as it tries to bring us back to normal levels.
In a healthy liver, the endocannabinoid system only has a modest presence. In fact, it doesn’t appear to do much at all in this particular organ.
However, when the liver becomes damaged and inflamed, the endocannabinoid system wakes up and starts to be very active in the area.
Too active, perhaps…
When fatty liver starts and the liver function begins to suffer, the endocannabinoid system steps up to try and make things normal again, unfortunately, it only appears to make things worse, and CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors play a role in the development of fatty liver disease .
Supporting Liver Function With CBD
This is going to get real confusing, so let me get this out of the way.
CBD is a CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist-antagonist.
What does this mean, you ask?
In this case, it means that CBD stops the compounds that are making the endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the liver go haywire.
It stops the endocannabinoid system from going crazy, establishing balance to the endocannabinoid system itself.
It’s the equalizer for the system that balances us.
This effectively protects the body from things like fatty liver disease and makes it easier for us to resist and recover from this condition more effectively.
It’s important to note that this action alone isn’t going to prevent fatty liver disease, but will make it more difficult for the condition to occur, giving us more time to change our lifestyle habits and diet before any permanent consequences set in.
Key Takeaways: Can CBD Oil Help With Fatty Liver Disease?
The best way to prevent or treat fatty liver disease is through diet modification.
CBD and other cannabinoids are going to go a long way in slowing the progression of the disease, and may even help to reverse it, but they aren’t going to work very well if the causes are still going on.
The primary cause of fatty liver disease is poor diet and lifestyle habits.
Heavy drinking, high junk food diets, and lack of exercise are the main causes of the condition. If they aren’t removed, the problem will persist and eventually get worse.
Combining CBD oil with diet changes – like eliminating processed and refined carbohydrates -, quitting alcohol or cigarette consumption, and spending at least 30 minutes per day on a mild-moderate level of exercise are going to go a long way in addressing the actual cause for the condition.