Medical Research

Can Using CBD Oil Cause Long-Term Damage to Your Liver?

Lisa Rennie
Written by Lisa Rennie

Cannabidiol (CBD) has quickly become somewhat of a phenomenon in the world of health and medicine thanks to continued studies linking the cannabinoid to a host of medicinal benefits.

The non-psychoactive component of cannabis has been hailed as a potential treatment for a myriad of medical issues, including reducing the severity and frequency of seizures, alleviating anxiety, and reducing pain and inflammation1.

But as much as proponents of CBD oil have touted the benefits of the cannabinoid, some might argue that long-term use of CBD could potentially lead to liver damage.

Is this true? Is there any merit to the idea that there may be a link between long-term CBD oil use and liver damage? Or could CBD oil actually help to benefit overall liver health?

According to the Liver Foundation, about 30 million Americans suffer from some form of liver disease2. But could CBD oil be a contributing factor to this medical condition?

There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that supports this notion. Instead, there appears to be more evidence supporting the possibility that CBD oil actually helps with liver health, rather than dampen it.

Studies Support the Potential for CBD Oil to Benefit Liver Health

Several studies have suggested that CBD oil may actually be a benefit to liver health.

For instance, a study published in Cell Death and Disease in 2011 discovered that CBD may serve as a treatment for liver disease3.

The researchers associated with the study assessed lab rats over eight months who consumed steadily increased concentrations of CBD, as well as other cannabinoids. They discovered that CBD killed off hepatic stellate cells (HSC), which trigger the development of scar tissue in the liver. By killing off these cells, the progression of liver disease slowed or even stopped altogether.

Another study, published the same year in the British Journal of Pharmacology, also linked CBD with improved liver function4.

Researchers associated with the study assessed mice and found that the group of rodents that were given CBD showed normalization of liver enzymes compared to the group that was not given CBD. Not only did the liver health of the CBD-fed mice improve, but so did cognitive function.

Yet another study found that CBD was able to reduce the effect of damage to the liver caused by long-term, excessive alcohol use5.

The study, published in 2017 in the journal Scientific Reports, looked at mice with liver injury induced by chronic alcohol use. The researchers found that CBD oil was able to minimize the inflammatory response in the liver as well as oxidative stress.

Final Thoughts

Not only does there not seem to be any evidence that CBD plays a role in damaging the liver over a long period of time, it actually seems that the cannabinoid may help to improve liver health and reduce the effects of any damage done to it. More studies continue to be required, particularly those involving human participants. However, current evidence appears to support the notion that CBD oil use is not only safe, but it may even have a potentially therapeutic role in treating liver disease.

References:

  1. Kogan, N, et al, Cannabinoids in health and disease, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, December 2007, Volume 9.
  2. Obesity and Fatty Livers, August 2017.
  3. Lim, M, et al, Cannabidiol causes activated hepatic stellate cell death through a mechanism of endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis, Cell Death & Disease, June 2011, Volume 2.
  4. 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, April 2011, Volume 162.
  5. Wang, Y, et al, Cannabidiol attenuates alcohol-induced liver steatosis, metabolic dysregulation, inflammation and neutrophil-mediated injury, Scientific Reports, 2017, Volume 7.

About the author

Lisa Rennie

Lisa Rennie

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