Can CBD Cause Liver Damage?
Adrian Devitt-Lee, is the young genius behind the think tank Project CBD. He is reputed to be formidably knowledgeable regarding CBD. Here, Devitt-Lee along with renowned doctor, Peter Grinspoon, weigh in to clarify if cannabidiol really killed four-and-a-half mice in a hotly debated study and will subsequently cause liver damage.
A recent article by Mike Adams for Forbes, asserts that CBD “could be damaging our livers in the same way as alcohol and other drugs.” This and other conclusions drawn by Adams caused the Henny Pennies of Twitter to insist the sky was falling. (Forbes‘ format does not allow readers to comment, so many took to Twitter to vent their anger.)
Of Mice and Men
According to Devitt-Lee this sensational claim was based on a dubious study of CBD and liver toxicity conducted by researchers (Ewing et al) at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock – except the damage discussed in the study was unrelated to alcohol toxicity and “our livers” actually refers to the livers of mice.
The Little Rock study makes no mention of humans beings, “which is a hugely important distinction,” clarifies Devitt-Lee. “Moreover, in the real world CBD consumers are not ingesting 0.25% of their body weight – the maximal dose that Ewing et al used in their study of liver toxicity.”
Nevertheless, according to Mike Adams’ Forbes article “People that use CBD are at an elevated risk for liver toxicity.” And “[CBD] may actually be just as harmful to their livers” as “conventional pain relievers, like acetaminophen.”
“The huge popularity of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating component of cannabis, has helped to destigmatize the plant and restore its reputation as an important medicinal herb. But bogus science and inept reporting continue to distort how we understand the benefits and risks of CBD and cannabis,” he asserts.
Experimental white mouse on the researcher’s hand.
“The breathless reporting in Forbes focuses on a single, flawed, preclinical study and exaggerates it to the point of falsehood. Yet if there’s a saving grace of the Forbes article, it’s that it gets much less wrong than the study itself,” says Devitt-Lee. ( The study is freely available from Molecules , a journal published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. (MDPI))
Devitt-Lee elucidates that a close examination of the Molecules study “reveals a Pandora’s box of strange statements, problematic publishing and unreasonable experimental design. On the first page, the abstract makes a claim that is fundamentally impossible , stating that, with chronic administration of CBD, ‘75% of mice gavaged with 615 mg/kg developed a moribund condition.'”
However, merely six rodents received this dose. “One doesn’t need an advanced degree in science or math to recognize that something is amiss. Seventy-five percent of six equals 4.5,” he sniffs.
According to the Little Rock researchers, four-and-a-half mice died from CBD, while somehow one-and-half mice survived.
Of Mice and Men
Devitt-Lee surmises that “scientists force-fed mice a single dose of CBD, ranging from the supposedly “low” dosage of 246 mg/kg up to a mega-dose of 2460 mg/kg CBD. That means for every kilogram of body weight, they gave the mice about 2.5 grams of CBD, which had been formulated as a hexane extract from cannabis supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Hexane, incidentally, is a neurotoxin.”
“It is important to remember, that mice are not humans,” says Dr. Peter Grinspoon. “Those poor mice. Someone should call the ASPCA on those researchers,” he adds.
Devitt-Lee explains that in the “preliminary research on panic and anxiety, humans are usually given 300-600 mg CBD. The maximum human dosage recommended for the CBD-isolate Epidiolex is 20 mg/kg, which is over 100x less than what the Little Rock researchers force fed their experimental mice. They also tried smaller doses (ranging between 61.5 to 615 mg/kg) of CBD, which was given daily for 10 consecutive days.
“Despite these ridiculous dosages, Ewing et al. claim their study accurately represents human experience, insisting that the equivalent human dose is 12.3 times lower because of allometric scaling , This is – at best – an unverified assumption. More likely, it’s just plain wrong,” asserts Devitt-Lee.
Dr. Grinspoon concurs.
This column was posted in conjunction with ProjectCBD. To continue reading, please click here.
Is CBD Oil Bad For Your Liver? Here’s What You Need To Know
Any new supplements you are considering adding to your diet should be looked at carefully. Do they fit with your lifestyle? Will they interact with any prescription medications you’re on?
Our extensive research – and that of scientists across the globe – has proven that CBD oil is well tolerated by the human body and that it has very few, if any, side effects.
Taken by itself, there is no negative impact on core functions such as digestion, heart rate or glucose levels, even with higher doses of CBD oil (up to 1,500mg per day).
But one lone study on mice has led to some scrutiny over whether CBD Oil could be harmful to the liver, affecting how it functions.
So, should you be worried? Is CBD oil bad for your liver?
What Is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive chemical compound found inside the cannabis plant. It’s used as a supplement to help support a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, and is most commonly taken as oil drops under the tongue, but can also come in other forms such as absorption drinks and creams.
Despite its roots in the cannabis plant, CBD oil is legal to buy in the UK and in many other countries across the globe, and many consumers claim it’s effective for pain relief, combating nausea, stress, with more than a third of CBD oil users claiming it helps with their anxiety.
Cannabidiol interacts with and supports the human endocannabinoid system by binding to the receptors found in the body’s nervous system.
These receptors pass messages through pathways in the human body to keep the body well balanced, and the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate hormones, sleep patterns and mood, as well as things like appetite and immune response.
What Does Your Liver Do?
The liver is a metabolically active internal organ in the human body. It holds more than 10% of your total blood supply and actually has more than 500 different functions. The three main functions are that it cleans the blood, produces a digestive liquid known as bile and stores energy.
Bile aids digestion in the small intestine by breaking up fats into fatty acids. The liver works to transform all the nutrients we ingest into something the body can use, stores these substances and then distributes them around the body when and where they are required. It also converts toxins into harmless waste products that the body can then get rid of.
To keep your liver healthy you should eat a balanced diet, keep to a moderate alcohol consumption, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and avoid recreational drugs.
The liver is the only organ in the human body that can regenerate itself. If the liver is healthy and a quarter of its tissue remains in place, it can regrow to its original size within just a few weeks.
Excessive intake of alcohol, fatty food, sugar and salt can all be damaging for your liver. Overindulging in these things can result in numerous problems, including liver failure.
Signs that your liver isn’t working properly include yellow skin or eyes, known as jaundice, abdominal pain or bloating and swelling of the legs and feet.
Will CBD Oil Hurt Your Liver?
Following a single study on mice last year, there have been concerns about CBD oil possibly being damaging to your liver if it is used in high quantities.
However, in the study in question, the doses used for the mice were much higher than humans would take, so the small daily drop of CBD oil which is advised for people is highly unlikely to cause the same effect. Therefore the study doesn’t mimic the typical intake of a CBD user. Scientists have instead said the findings can give an indication of the consequences of a potential CBD oil overdose.
It is the same with any drug or supplement. If you take more than the recommended dose there are always possible consequences, whether it be an excessive dose of grapefruit extract or ibuprofen. Studies have shown that using more than the recommended dose of ibuprofen, for example, can cause stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems as well as greater risk of cardiovascular concerns.
And – obviously – a mouse is not a human being. Although they share very similar genes, which is why mice are frequently used for testing purposes, they are physiologically very different and this must be taken into consideration.
Further research into the findings has shown that using the correct dosage of CBD oil is safe for widespread use, and is well tolerated by the vast majority of people.
This is backed up by the World Health Organisation, no less. Not only that, but conflicting research has shown that the therapeutic properties of CBD oil could actually help improve liver function because of the way it interacts with endocannabinoids to create anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Can CBD Cause Liver Failure?
As CBD Oil is so new to the market, there is still much research to be done into what it can do, how it can potentially help users and any undiscovered risks involved.
However, initial findings suggest that side effects are minimal and it is only if you take a comparably huge dose of CBD Oil that your liver could be affected.
There are three main things to cause liver failure – obesity, alcohol misuse and hepatitis. CBD is not one of these and nor is it currently deemed to be a contributory factor.
The Bottom Line
Taking the correct, recommended dose of good quality CBD pil as part of a general wellness routine is unlikely to cause any side effects, including liver damage. Any side effects reported in humans up to now are very rare – and very mild if they do occur.
Vitally, if you are a CBD consumer, ensure you buy from a reputable source with lab certified products who can verify their contents. If you are already taking any form of medication we advise that you consult your doctor or healthcare professional before taking any CBD Oil or related products.