When it comes to CBD oil, side effects on the liver have been a hotly debated topic. Typically, the FDA doesn’t weigh in unless it is to warn against use of CBD and other cannabinoids, but in the case of its effects on the liver, the agency actually requested a study.
FDA requested studies on CBD are becoming more frequent as the agency seeks to decide how it will regulate CBD products going forward. Before we tackle that, however, what is CBD and why are there so many questions about it?
The skinny on CBD, or cannabidiol, is that it is a cannabinoid. There are many different cannabinoids, and they are found in both plants (phytocannabinoids) and humans (endocannabinoids.) In fact, the human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that interacts with the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Endocannabinoids produced by the body interact through the ECS with the nervous system via receptors. They are regulators of modulators, helping the body control important functions like mood, appetite, body temperature, and even pain signals.
Researchers discovered that phytocannabinoids like those found in the Cannabis sativa plant, can also interact with the ECS and help endocannabinoids last longer and be more effective. One of the most beneficial cannabinoids is CBD. There was just one problem.
Cannabis was federally illegal until the Farm Bill of 2018 was passed. This was because of another cannabinoid in the same plant: THC. THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid, which means it can make you feel “high” by inducing sensations of euphoria and/or paranoia.
Because of THC, and the Fed’s hard stance on psychoactive drugs, cannabis wasn’t legal. However, the 2018 Farm Bill drew a line between different types of cannabis. Anything with less than 0.3% of THC was separated into its own category, called industrial hemp.
Anything with a higher THC component remains illegal, and is commonly referred to as marijuana. Industrial hemp still may contain the trace amount of THC, but it’s not enough to have a psychoactive effect.
When taken into the bloodstream, CBD can provide many holistic wellness benefits. As CBD products have hit the market in the wake of the Farm Bill, more and more people are taking CBD as an alternative or supplemental therapy.
However, is CBD safe for everyone? What if you already have some sort of serious health condition – will CBD do more harm than good? The difficulty answering that question lies in the dearth of research into CBD. However, with the FDA now requesting research be done, we are starting to learn more.
CBD Oil Side Effects on the Liver
The main FDA-requested study was carried out by a third pastry analysis company and supported by 12 different CBD companies who helped recruit participants. The study lasted seven months and had more than 800 participants.
The results of the study were exciting: CBD didn’t have any adverse effects on the liver when taken orally. This helped set the minds of many people at rest, since a previous study on mice that were force fed enormous amounts of CBD did show liver damage in the unfortunate rodents.
That’s often the problem with studies on CBD. Either the study is on animals, which may or may not carry over as fact for humans, or the doses given in a study are up to 10x or more what an average person would take of CBD in a day.
In addition, many studies don’t differentiate between CBD and THC. This can make it hard to fully understand what CBD does and doesn’t do, as well as potential risks or side effects.
Plus, you have to take into account what other things may be going on with study participants. In the 800+ person study, 3 people did get elevated liver enzymes but they were also taking medication known to raise those same enzyme levels. It seems far more likely that those three people with that identical side effect were having the side effect caused by the same med they were all taking, not from the CBD oil that was part of the study.
Positive Benefits of CBD for the Liver
Let’s look at some connections being revealed via research into CBD and various conditions involving the liver:
CBD and fatty liver
The ECS controls homeostasis, with the network operating throughout the body to maintain balance and regulate the equilibrium of various systems and organs, including the liver. If the liver is having issues, the body creates more endocannabinoids to help address the issue.
CBD can boost the longevity and efficiency of these endocannabinoids. Since there is emerging evidence that indicates that cannabinoids play a key role in fatty liver regulation, there is currently a lot of interest in how taking CBD oil might assist in reducing fat in and around the liver.
CBD and liver cancer
CBD can’t cure cancer. However, it does have certain effects on the body that indicate it can assist in the fight against cancer. CBD is a known anti-metastatic agent, which means it may be able to help inhibit the development of reserved tumor masses in the liver, while inhibiting growth of new blood vessels which can in turn retard the spread of cancer cells. CBD also supports cell senescence (pre-programmed cell death), and it is hoped CBD products may someday be engineered to specifically target cancer cells.
CBD and viral or immune hepatitis
Both viral hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) are global public health concerns. Untreated, they can induce severe liver damage and cause cirrhosis or cancer. HBV has a vaccination, but HCV does not.
Researchers started looking into the therapeutic potential of CBD for liver function, and found that CBD has the potential to limit the multiplication of the hep C virus by nearly 90%. As a result, many people take CBD as part of a combination therapy with existing hepatitis medications.
Patients who have an already compromised immune system and then suffer from inflammation of the liver can end up with autoimmune hepatitis. Activation of receptors responsible for regulating liver function lowers the inflammation of the liver. Blocking these receptors leads to autoimmune hepatitis.
According to researchers, CBD can cause these specific receptors to activate. This can help reduce discomfort and inflammation, and even reduce the risk of or help minimize the negative effects of autoimmune hepatitis.
CBD and hepatic ischemia
Liver surgery or transplant patients are at high risk for hepatic ischemia, which can cause the liver to become severely inflamed. In critical cases, it can lead to liver transplant and liver rejection-related mortality. Oxidative stress makes these kinds of liver patients worse. Since CBD has antioxidative properties and anti-inflammatory effects, there is interest in using it for transplant patients.
Researchers have also found that CBD can efficiently reduce inflammation and oxidative stress during experiments in labs, while increasing the death of malignant cells in the liver. Scientists who have used CBD to treat rats suffering from hepatic ischemia saw a considerable reduction in liver damage.
However, it’s important to note that taking CBD while a candidate for a liver transplant can lead to being bumped down the list or even outright denied a liver transplant. It all depends on the protocols of the medical team and transplant center.
If you need a liver transplant, taking CBD beforehand should be carefully considered and discussed with your doctors and transplant specialists so you don’t ruin your chances of getting a donor liver and having a life-savig transplant.
CBD and liver encephalopathy
Inflammation of the liver or liver malfunction can cause hepatic encephalopathy, which manifests as psychological disturbances. Patients can display personality changes, confusion, and movement issues, or even end up in a coma.
CBD’s capability for neurocognitive support has been upheld by scientists who did a study on mice with hepatic encephalopathy. Mice given CBD oil saw restored neurological function and cognitive capabilities. It has also been shown that CBD may be able to restore basic liver function and regulate liver enzymes by reducing levels of ammonia in the blood.
CBD and liver fibrosis
Overconsumption of alcohol leads to chronic liver damage. Chronic liver damage leads to liver fibrosis. Over time, if alcohol abuse continues, the patient ends up with liver cirrhosis, which can be fatal.
Scientists have discovered that CBD has anti-fibrosis characteristics: It can inhibit the overproduction of collagen, a protein that can contribute to buildup by the cells that cause fibrosis. CBD may also help minimize the effects of long-term alcohol-induced liver damage.
So Should You Take CBD?
Taking CBD is of course a very personal decision. If you are healthy, it’s very unlikely that CBD will do you any harm. If you have a medical condition, especially one involving organs like your liver, it is best to consult with your health professional first, before starting any new supplement.
If you do decide to take CBD, here’s what you need to know:
All CBD is not equal
There are three main types of CBD oils: isolate, broad-spectrum, and full spectrum.
CBD isolate is just completely isolated and purified CBD compound, suspended in a carrier oil for application. There’s nothing else in it. You can use it topically, take it sublingually, ingest it orally, and so on.
Broad-spectrum CBD has a few more ingredients from the industrial hemp plant. Usually this means there are a few more cannabinoids, of which there are more than 100 in the plant. These cannabinoids are present in very small amounts, but seem to boost the effectiveness of CBD when added into the mix. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.
Full spectrum has all compounds from the industrial hemp plant, this means every cannabinoid, including the trace amount of THC (although the amount of THC present is legal and not enough to produce the infamous psychoactive effect.)
The complete entourage of cannabinoids plus other compounds known as flavonoids and terpenes work together to make the CBD work even better, boosting the natural endocannabinoids your own body makes, and supporting the health of your ECS.
CBD must be sourced and verified
Yummy CBD products are made with full spectrum CBD that has been sourced from organic industrial hemp growers. Samples from every single batch of our products are sent to a third party lab to be tested, verified, and certified.
You can view the certificate for each product by scanning the QR code on the packaging. It will show you the CBD potency as well as the THC content, so you know you are getting a safe, legal product. Lab results are also accessible via our website.
CBD oils can come in yummy flavors
A lot of CBD can taste kind of strong. That’s the terpenes and flavonoids in the cannabis, which affect how things smell and taste. It’s tempting to just gulp your dose down fast so you don’t taste it, but that means the CBD has to travel through your digestive system and the first phase of metabolism. This slows down how much CBD is bioavailable to you, and how fast you can feel it working.
The better choice is to take your CBD sublingually. That means squirting it under your tongue and holding it there for 30 to 60 seconds. Hard to do if your CBD oil tastes like yuck! Fortunately, at Yummy CBD, we’ve thought of that.
Our CBD oils are made using a coconut carrier oil that breaks down fast in your body. And we’ve add some yummy natural flavoring to give our products a better tast:
Orange Zest CBD Oil tincture: This has 33 mg of CBD per mL, and most people use it in the daytime.
Mellow Mint CBD Oil formula. This has 67 mg of CBD per mL, plus 1 mg of melatonin (a natural sleep aid) per mL, and most people use it before bed.
Now that you know that CBD oil side effects on the liver are more likely to be positive than negative, you can check out our helpful CBD Buyer’s Guide for more info. Then, simply visit our SHOP page to purchase any of our full-spectrum Yummy CBD products.