How Do Cannabis and CBD Affect Your Liver
Cannabis has a vast array of therapeutic potential. The cannabinoids in the plant are anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial. Studies have shown that cannabis-derived medications help with weight loss, stress and pain relief, improving lung capacity, among other benefits.
In recent decades, extensive research has been conducted to determine the therapeutic potential of cannabis for liver conditions and the level of receptivity of localized receptors in the liver to cannabinoids. In this post, we’ll explore and break down the available research showing the relative effects of medical cannabis on liver diseases and whether or not cannabis can cause adverse effects on the liver.
The Purpose of the Liver
The liver is located on the right side of the body, just beneath the diaphragm and above the gallbladder. An average-sized adult liver weighs 1.4 kg. It has two unequally sized lobes known as the right lobe and the left lobe. Of the two, the right lobe is larger. Both are connected by connective tissue, which keeps the organ attached to the abdominal wall.
This singular organ plays a vital role in sustaining the body, one of which is excretion. It filters out the good and valuable components of ingested materials and passes the rest on to be excreted from the body. It is regarded as a natural detoxifier. The most important part of the liver is the portal vein. This vein transports the original blood vessel from the digestive organs to the liver for sorting through. The liver filters out the harmful materials and sends off the blood, containing only suitable materials. The liver produces bile (to break down fat compounds).
Vitamin K is one of the essential vitamins the liver needs to produce protein juices used for clotting in case of injuries.
Common Liver Conditions
Like other vital human organs, there’s only so much a liver can handle. It does a lot of work processing natural and synthetic materials, some of which are drugs. A study pointed out that not all livers have evolved enough to process synthetic materials. This is why they break down after encountering such materials continuously. Not all liver conditions are severe, but some could be fatal.
Some common liver conditions include fibrosis, hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and cirrhosis. The primary cause of most of these diseases is a poor and unhealthy lifestyle. Alcoholism and excessive drug use are two leading causes of liver conditions, followed closely by obesity and other unchecked or untreated ailments. For example, cirrhosis occurs when fibrosis is either undetected or untreated. So many things could go wrong in the liver because every ingested material goes through it. The liver is scarred by excessive drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy meals.
Treating And Managing Liver Conditions
Often, the liver can repair its cells as some of the conditions are reversible. In advanced cases like fibrosis, it is managed with healthy living and medications. Leaving a liver disease untreated could cause it to degenerate into worse conditions like liver failure and even death. If the liver has a bad case of scar tissue buildup, the patient’s only option could be a liver transplant (which is difficult and costly to find).
The Liver and Cannabis
The future role of cannabinoids in maintaining liver function is being investigated around the world. While it is impossible to draw conclusions now, it is not out of place to state that they have sound potential.
Here is a look at the level of research carried out so far.
Cannabis and Fibrosis
The endocannabinoid system is made up of receptors. The most important ones are CB1 and CB2. These receptors occur in the body along with enzymes in relative amounts. The body also produces natural cannabinoids and endocannabinoids. These compounds ensure that all body functions are regulated and normal. When cannabis is ingested, the cannabinoids interact with the ECS receptors to produce a similar effect as endocannabinoids.
There are limited CB1 and CB2 receptors in the liver, but there are higher amounts in diseased livers than in healthy ones. Scientists suggest that these receptors are vital to the regeneration process of scarred tissues in the organ. Parfieniuk and Flisaik explained this complex process in a 2008 study. The scientists proposed that the receptors have opposing roles. CB1 functions as a profibrogenic and proinflammatory compound, while CB2 opposes these functions.
For patients suffering from fibrosis, CB1 has the potential to worsen the condition, while CB2 can be used to manage it. Only cannabis plants that can activate the CB2 receptor can be used to treat liver conditions.
In 2011, further studies showed that CB2 receptors have the potential to kill malignant cells in the liver and reduce the buildup of scarred tissue. If the ECS is properly manipulated, CBD-derived cannabis medications can be helpful for fibrosis.
Cannabis and Hepatitis
Hepatitis is gradually rising to be one of the major causes of fatalities around the world. It is a physically-taxing ailment that is extremely difficult to treat, and it has no cure. The disease can induce an immune-modulated liver condition. The available research on this was conducted on mice, and the information cannot be used for humans.
In the rodents, the scientists observed a reduction in cytokine levels by anandamides. When cannabis is ingested in humans, it makes many anandamide compounds available to receptors by inhibiting FAAH. Still, it’s unclear whether the cytokine levels in humans would be reduced due to this.
Final Note: The Impact of Cannabis On The Liver
The effects of cannabis on the liver are still unclear. Scientists have not been able to establish whether or not the drug is bad or good. However, they have emphasized that those with liver conditions have no business smoking cannabis, and should consume it orally. More research is needed to explain the in-depth relationship between cannabinoids and the liver, primarily THC and CBD.
It is important to note that in human subjects, CBD interacts with ingested medications. It inhibits the production of the liver enzyme cytochrome P450 (used to break down drugs and foreign materials). Before consuming CBD-based medicine, consult a medical professional. This way, you’ll be sure the medication is doing more good than harm.