CBD Effects on the Liver
Posted on August 11th, 2020
CBD or cannabidiol is one of the many compounds (also known as cannabinoids) found in hemp and cannabis plants. Unlike the THC found in marijuana, CBD doesn’t cause a high feeling or chemical dependence. Cannabidiol extracted from hemp is legal, but there are laws to regulate it. It can commonly be found in numerous products, including e-cigs, lotions, and many oral supplements.
While more research is needed, studies have shown promise that CBD may be able to help symptoms and conditions such as anxiety, stress, epilepsy, inflammation, and more. But what are CBD effects on the liver? There have been concerns over the safety of CBD in regards to the liver since it came to light that the CBD-based drug known as Epidiolex might act as a potential liver toxin.
But How Does CBD Impact the Liver?
There are not many studies conducted on how CBD oil affects the liver. And the few that are there are not clear. According to studies done on Epidiolex, this substance is metabolized by the liver. This has led to individuals with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis to be encouraged to limit over the counter medications in order to prevent liver stress. There are other studies that suggest that CBD could boost liver function.
The liver is one of the most important organs and it’s involved in a lot of functions including bile secretion, enzymes activation, digestive aid, detoxification, etc. Conditions that affect the liver are known as hepatic diseases. The organ can be affected by various environmental and endogenous agents. Common infectious conditions can include jaundice, viral hepatitis, etc.
So, How Might CBD Benefit the Liver?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors in the body responsible for several processes, has been shown to be a possible target for liver disease treatment. Cannabidiol interacts with the ECS, boosting its performance and thus providing potentially positive effects. CBD may also show anti-inflammatory, anti-ischemic, anti-oxidant, and immunomodulatory properties, all of which may aid in handling liver conditions.
CBD Effects on Liver Conditions
Potential Beneficial Activity in Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a condition that’s characterized by liver inflammation, and the viral kind is one of the most severe infectious ailments of the liver. Hepatitis A, B, and C have caused many deaths globally, and the condition can eventually lead to liver cirrhosis and even cancer. The global burden of the condition has been on the rise, and currently, there is no Hepatitis C vaccine, lacking any effective preventive methods.
As such, it is imperative to look for novel therapeutics for hepatitis. CBD effects have been shown to potentially help liver conditions, particularly Hepatitis C. According to a study published in the Pharmacognosy Research journal, the effect of CBD on Hepatitis viruses was assessed. The cells hosting the viruses were subjected to cannabidiol, and the activity against the virus determined. Researchers saw that CBD may be able to stop the replication of the virus by about 87%.
The study also showed that CBD could be effective in both forms of hepatitis due to its effect on the CB-2 receptors. The substance has an indirect interaction with the receptor and induces death in splenocytes (immune cells), thus possibly inhibiting the growth of T-cells, which are behind the autoimmune attack on liver cells.
CBD May Help With Hepatic Encephalopathy
This condition is often characterized by a change in consciousness because of liver damage or failure. This is caused by the buildup of toxic substances in the blood, which are eliminated by the liver. Symptoms include confusion, altered personality, movement issues, etc. In more severe cases, the condition can lead to a coma.
Hepatic encephalopathy is primarily caused by cirrhosis and it can be observed in both chronic and acute liver injuries. Inflammation is also seen in the pathogenesis of the condition.
Cannabidiol may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help to reduce neuroinflammation, and might act as a neuroprotective agent.
Hepatic encephalopathy is a result of ammonia build up in the liver. Administering CBD showed a decrease of this toxin buildup, restored liver function, and enzyme levels were potentially normalized.
According to another study that analyzed motor and cognitive impairment caused in mice as a result of bile ligation reported the same results. It was shown that CBD intake for over a month reserved the motor and cognitive impairment. This could be attributed to the down-regulation of adenosine receptor A2A.
CBD May Help Prevent Hepatic Reperfusion/Ischemia Injury
This form of injury is a common injury that happens during most liver transplants and surgeries. It’s responsible for deaths in graft and transplants rejection. It’s characterized by inflammation as a huge number of neutrophils goes to the liver.
Substantial inflammation is caused by the activation of leukocytes, etc. found in the liver during the arrival neutrophils. There’s also the involvement of nitrative and oxidative stress.
Cannabidiol may have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and so, it could be helpful in preventing reperfusion or ischemia injury.
According to a study that looked at the effect of ischemia/reperfusion injury in mice based on oxidative, inflammatory, and cell death markers. It was seen that CBD has the potential to help alleviate the oxidative, inflammation, and death of cells in the liver. Also, neutrophil infiltration was ideally reduced after CBD administration.
Another study was done in rats with ischemia/reperfusion injury as a result of increased levels of nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor-α, along with the decrease in anti-oxidant glutathione levels. After the CBD administration, a substantial attenuation of liver damage caused by ischemia/reperfusion injury. Ideally, there was a decrease in the levels of oxidative and pro-inflammatory species including nuclear factor-κB and cyclooxygenase-2.
The deduction in this study was that CBD may potentially benefit the prevention as well as management of the condition hypoxia-reoxygenation.
It’s important to note that further research is needed to draw any conclusions on the effects and potential benefits of CBD on the liver.
The Endocannabinoid System Is a Potential Target for Liver Conditions
The ECS is involved in numerous operations in the body. It’s found throughout the body and brain and has a substantial effect on several organs. The signaling of the CB1 and CB2 receptors are therapeutic targets for numerous disorders because of the systemic influence.
According to various studies, the ECS experiences alterations in various liver conditions including cirrhotic cardiomyopathy, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis from fibrosis, and many others. The ECS is thought to be associated with chronic liver injuries and has an impact on the cell and inflammatory damage in the liver due to stress or diseases.
The molecules that affect the ECS, directly or indirectly, and their receptors can be possible targets for managing an array of liver conditions. CBD shows a possible interaction with the CB2 receptors, which are involved in immune and inflammatory responses, particularly in ischemic response, which happens during liver surgery.
CB1 receptors antagonists have been shown to reduce fat accumulation in people suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These antagonists are ideally helpful in treating liver cirrhosis by hampering fibrosis and the associated cardiovascular complications.
Cannabidiol potentially deactivates CB1 receptors and acts as an antagonist. The compound ideally reverses the activating effect of CB1 and THC receptors. As such, CBD may be helpful in attenuating cirrhosis and fibrosis symptoms, among many others, that entail activation of CB1 receptors.
CBD Dosage and Usage
There’s a lot variation when it comes to the right dosage, depending on the strength of the tincture, the individual, and the disorder. More often than not, the available tinctures have a strength between 100 and 2400mg. It’s important to discuss with your doctor how much CBD is right for you. You should also note the dosing guidelines for each CBD product.
It is best to start with the lowest dose and gradually work your way up over several weeks. You can achieve this by consuming CBD and paying attention to the symptoms.
The most common ways of consuming CBD include inhalation, sublingual, oral, and topical, which involve patches and creams. The best form of usage depends on your comfort. Some forms are more discrete than others for public consumption, others have lasting effects and others have instant effects. It all boils down to your needs and level of comfort.
Precaution and Side Effects
CBD has become very popular because of its potential benefits and also for its little to no side effects. Using CBD for an extended period may lead to discomfort. Some have reported effects such as drowsiness, change in appetite, dry mouth, and faintness.
Cannabidiol also shows interaction with some commonly used medications. These may include antibiotics, beta-blockers, anti-anxiety, anesthetics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and others as a result of its impact on the liver enzyme.
When using CBD to manage any condition, it is important to consult your doctor first. You can then receive advice on the best dose and how to prevent unwanted side effects. Also, you will want to consume a pure product free of toxins. As such, ensure you purchase CBD from reputable manufacturers.