Potentially, yes. In both clinical trials for the FDA-approved CBD-centric drug Epidiolex, anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of patients experienced elevated liver enzymes. In a different study conducted on lab mice, mice treated with higher concentrations died or were near death within 24 hours of ingesting the CBD.
Excuse the cliché, but unless you live under a rock, there is almost no avoiding CBD lately. The stuff is everywhere — from gas stations pedaling vapes to kiosks in the mall pushing CBD-infused lotions, it’s almost impossible to ignore how popular the cannabidiol industry has gotten recently. This is largely in part to last year’s passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the production of hemp and therefore, the production of CBD as well.
It’s actually a complicated answer. In short, CBD is derived from hemp, so there are a few key differences. According to CStore Decisions, “Hemp is a strain of the ‘cannabis sativa’ plant species.” Hemp has a lower concentration of THC, which is why it doesn’t provide the psychological high that marijuana does. While it may have lower quantities of THC, hemp actually contains higher concentrations of cannabidiol — also known as CBD.
Can CBD Increase Liver Enzymes?
Much like hemp, CBD also can’t get you high. CBD is actually derived from hemp and is a chemical compound called “cannabinoids” originally found in the cannabis plant. The key difference in hemp versus CBD is that CBD is made by extracting the oil and diluting it with a carrier oil. Carrier oils could be coconut, hemp seed oil, avocado, almond, etc.
According to Medical News Today, CBD oil is commonly used in treating chronic pain, epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, and a myriad of sleep disorders. Studies have noted its ability to help mitigate pain associated with cancer, as well as its use as an anti-cancer drug. A review published in Neurotherapeutics found a link between the reduction of anxiety-related behaviors in people with anxiety disorders and CBD. It also found CBD could potentially reduce symptoms for people with related anxiety disorders including general anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
Smaller doses of CBD — which equate to 50 milligrams for a human — resulted in liver swelling and damage in mice.
The study involved the aforementioned Epidiolex — the FDA’s only approved CBD drug. Researchers found mice treated with the epilepsy drug were at an increased risk for liver toxicity, despite using the recommended dosage and adhering to safety recommendations on Epidiolex’s label. According to Lab Roots, “When examining the mice with various doses of CBD in their system, it appeared that mice that had consumed the higher doses of CBD showed signs of liver damage in as short as 24 hours.” Those mice died or “were near death” within days.
Second, it prevents the formation of blood vessels that facilitate tumor growth.
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.
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 Oil for Hepatic Ischemia
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.
Let’s shed some light on the infamous study on mice.
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.
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.
Because CBD oil is not considered a drug, it can be a common additive in many products. This includes e-cigarettes (vape oil), lotions and various herbal supplements. It has also been shown to relieve symptoms of different disorders like epilepsy, anxiety and multiple sclerosis.
How much CBD is too much?
Cannabidiol oil is extracted from the hemp plant, which is in the same family as marijuana. Unlike THC in marijuana, CBD does not cause a “high” or chemical dependence. CBD that is extracted from the hemp plant is legal, but individual states have laws to regulate it.
The few studies performed on how CBD affects the liver are not clear.
Note, the study cited in the article was very small with children under physician care but if you are a liver patient it is a cautionary note if you are considering CBD oil. We are not aware of any research that would suggest using it more broadly but consult your doctor.
As determined by the studies done on Epidiolex®, CBD is metabolized by the liver. People with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are encouraged to limit over-the-counter (OTC) medications to avoid stressing the liver.
How does it impact the liver?