You can’t live without a healthy liver. Botanical extracts of the cannabis plant are gaining popularity for their therapeutic potential in liver disease. Is dabbing actually healthy, and how does cannabis help the liver?
Could dabbing really help manage symptoms of liver disease? Can CBD help protect the liver and reduce the risk of developing a deadly condition? We’re going to go over these questions and more in this report on CBD & Liver Disease.
It’s hard to imagine how vaporizing a cannabis extract might be beneficial and protective in liver disease, but keep reading and you’ll understand how this idea might not be such a pipe dream after all.
First, we’ll talk a bit about CBD, or Cannabidiol, and what it is. Then, we’ll go over Liver Disease and talk about what it is, how it develops, and what are the factors that put you at risk. Then we’ll go over how dabbing CBD extracts might be beneficial in protecting your liver.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a therapeutic compound extracted from the plant cannabis sativa, or just cannabis. Cannabis synthesizes more than 100 different phytocannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, and aromatic compounds known as terpenes.
Some types of cannabis, such as hemp, produce more CBD than other cannabinoids, like THC, while other strains of cannabis produce more THC. CBD oil and cannabis concentrates are made from extracting the therapeutic compounds of the raw plant.
Cannabinoids are synthesized mainly in the resinous flowers of the female cannabis plant. Cannabis with low THC and high CBD concentrations is referred to as high-CBD hemp.
CBD is non-toxic, meaning you can’t overdose and has no unwanted side effects associated with THC, marijuana, or getting high. However, it can still exhibit a calming, uplifting effect.
Before we go over the scientific studies on CBD concentrates and liver health, let’s get a better understanding of what liver disease is.
Understanding Liver Disease
The liver is the body’s largest organ and carries many responsibilities. It can actually heal itself by regenerating cells, but if the damage is too extensive disease and illness can begin to develop.
Even though the liver can regenerate and heal itself, chronic disease can hinder its ability. As liver damage progresses it causes the organ to form scar tissue, which is called fibrosis. Prolonged fibrosis and liver damage can lead to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis damages the liver leading to disease and symptoms such as – 
- Loss of Appetite
- Yellowing of the Skin
The WHO estimates global prevalence of cirrhosis from autopsy studies of the general population ranges from 4.5% to 9.5%. This indicates that more than 50 million people worldwide could be living with a chronic liver disease. Death from cirrhosis is also estimated to increase, possibly becoming the 12th leading cause of death by 2020.
Cirrhosis can be caused by disease and it can also lead to liver disease. It can be triggered by several different genetic and environmental factors combined including, 
- Viral infections
- Genetic predisposition
- Illicit Drug and alcohol abuse
- Some medications and pharmaceuticals
- Metabolic disease
- Liver cancer
What Causes Liver Disease
Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver commonly caused by a viral infection, but autoimmune dysfunction, medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol can also cause it. There are 5 types of viral hepatitis, A, B, C, D, and E. Hep. A is almost always acute and short-term, caused by contaminated food or water. [7
Hepatitis D is a rare viral form that only occurs in conjunction with Hep. B., and is very uncommon in the U.S. Hep. E is another viral infection inducing liver inflammation caused by consuming contaminated water and is also very rare in developed countries.
The most common forms of viral hepatitis that can lead to chronic liver disease are Hepatitis B and C, which are contracted through direct contact with contaminated bodily fluids.
- According to the CDC, there are about 1.4 million people in the U.S. living with chronic Hep. B infection
- There are approx. 43,000 new cases of Hep. B each year in the U.S.
- About 70% of adults with Hep. B develop symptoms
- Between 15%-25% of those with chronic Hep. B develop a serious liver disease such as cancer, cirrhosis, or liver failure, all of which can be fatal. 
- More than 5 million people in the U.S. have chronic Hep. C
- There are about 17,000 new cases of Hep C each year in the U.S.
- 3 out of 4 people with Hep C are unaware that they are infected
- 21,000 men and 8,000 women get liver cancer each year in the U.S.
- 16,000 men and 8,000 women die from liver cancer each year in the U.S.
- Cirrhosis is the main cause of HCC or liver cancer. 
- Liver cancer affects about half a million people per year annually 
- Only 10% of those diagnosed with liver cancer are expected to survive 5 years with the disease 
Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
- In the US, alcohol is the second most common cause of liver cirrhosis, after the hepatitis C virus. 
- Alcohol contributes to approximately 20% to 25% of liver cirrhosis cases in the US. 
- Alcohol is the main cause of liver-related death in Europe with the highest reported rates from France and Spain. 
Fatty Liver Disease & Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis
Liver disease that’s not caused by alcohol abuse or viral infection is referred to as NAFLD or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. There are two separate forms of NAFLD, simple fatty liver disease and NASH, or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. 
The majority of NAFLD cases are fatty liver disease, and patients diagnosed don’t typically develop complications. However, those diagnosed with NASH risk cirrhosis and liver cancer.
- Obesity & Type II Diabetes increases the risk of NAFLD
- 40% to 80% of people with Type II diabetes have NAFLD
- 30% to 90% of obese people have NAFLD
- Global prevalence of NASH ranges from 6% to 35%
- S. prevalence of NASH is reported to be 10%-35%
Metabolic Liver Diseases
- Hereditary Hemochromatosis, a genetically triggered liver disease, is one of the most common genetic diseases among persons of Northern European
- Wilson’s disease is a metabolic liver disease that affects approximately 1 in 30,000 individuals with the highest incidences reported in Asia
- Alph-1 antitrypsin deficiency is the most common genetic liver disease in infants and children in the U.S. and Northern Europe affecting about 1 in 2,200 babies
Research on CBD’s Effects on Liver Disease
Now that we understand what causes Liver Disease, we can get into how CBD extracts could help protect the liver and reduce your risk of the condition.
A team of researchers in New York investigated the effects of CBD concentrate therapy in a rat model of liver disease to see what effect the compound may have on HS cells that cause fibrosis.
“Remarkably, we found that CBD induced death of activated HSCs through apoptosis, an event that occurs independently of cannabinoid receptors.” 
Key Findings from the study are –
- CBD extract selectively kills activated HS cells
- CBD extract induces HSC apoptosis independently of cannabinoid receptors
- CBD extract is a novel potential therapeutic agent for liver fibrosis
- Demonstrated that CBD extract has an anti-fibrotic effect in vivo
CBD Shows Significant Reduction in Liver Triglycerides
Research also indicates that CBD may actually help protect and prevent liver disease through a number of mechanisms. Experts believe CBD may help patients by reducing high levels of liver triglycerides, which can reduce the risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Triglycerides are the main constituent of natural fats and oils. High concentrations of triglycerides in the liver indicate an elevated risk of liver disease. A team of U.K. researchers conducted a 10-week clinical trial to assess the effect of CBD in subjects with raised liver triglycerides. 
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this is the only clinical study on the effects of CBD in fatty liver disease, at the time of this writing. Findings from the study support previous data from CBD and liver disease research in vitro and animal models indicating CBD’s therapeutic potential in treating fatty liver disease.
The pilot study was a randomized, partially blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial and included 25 participants with elevated liver triglycerides. Participants underwent various screenings for pre and post treatment to assess changes in the levels of –
- Liver triglycerides
- Body Mass Index
- Various measurements related to obesity and overweight
- Cholesterol Levels including LDL, HDL, and HDL: LDL ratio
Study participants were treated with CBD for 10 weeks and divided into three intervention treatment dosage categories, 200 mg, 400 mg, and 800 mg. of cannabidiol extract twice daily.
Baseline measurements of liver triglyceride levels were taken prior to treatment and 56 days after treatment using MRI/MRS scanning. The results show that CBD treatment significantly reduced the concentration of elevated liver triglycerides in patients with fatty liver compared with the placebo.
Patients who took 100 mg of CBD twice daily for 10 weeks experienced the greatest reduction in liver triglycerides compared to those who took the placebo and the other dosages. However, CBD treatment overall showed a significant reduction in liver triglycerides compared to the placebo control.
Cannabidiol Extract Effect in NAFLD
Obesity comes with many complications and additional health risks. And metabolic syndrome associated with obesity is linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD; hepatosteatosis) and the onset of type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 
A study published in the Journal of Hepatology studied the effects of CBD in vitro on NAFLD and hepatosteatosis. Data showed that both CBD and THCV – 
- Reduced accumulated lipid levels
- Induced post-translational changes in a variety of proteins such as CREB, PRAS40, AMPKa2, and several STATS, indicating increased lipid metabolism
- Supported data from animal studies that indicate CBD is able to increase yolk lipid mobilization and inhibit the development of hepatosteatosis, respectively.
Could Dabbing Be Good For Liver Disease?
In order for a cannabinoid such as cannabidiol to work efficiently in conditions like Liver Disease, it needs to build up in the body’s fat storages. What’s the most efficient way to increase concentrations of cannabidiol extract in the body to manage disease?
Science is still debating what may be the appropriate method of administration of CBD or other cannabis extracts in managing chronic disease. Everyone responds to cannabinoids therapies differently and each case is unique.
We’re not doctors here at Dabdayz, but what we can say is that if there’s one way to increase concentrations of cannabidiol it’s through the use of concentrates and extracts. Cannabis concentrates allow for an efficient means of taking in large dosages.
The mounting body of scientific and anecdotal evidence is growing bigger every year and says CBD is a powerful substance extracted from cannabis that deserves another look. Inhalation is a fast acting method of administration and avoids the digestive system, which may be beneficial for those with digestion issues.
Whether inhaling vaporized CBD extracts is a better approach than ingesting extracts, sublingual drops, or nano-encapsulated gel pills is left up for debate. Always consult with a physician about serious illnesses before experimenting with concentrates to manage health conditions.
Thanks for reading! If you found this article helpful, please share it with others who may also enjoy it. You can learn more about cannabis concentrates, dabbing, and other cannabis health-related content in our articles linked below.
- Why Cannabis Is Life Changing For Liver Disease. Rachel Garland. Green Flower. 2018
- Liver Disease Statistics. American Liver Foundation. 2018
- Global Burden of Liver Disease: A True Burden on Health Sciences and Economy. S.K. Sarin. Rakhi Maiwall. World Gastroenterology Organization.
- Cannabidiol causes activated hepatic stellate cell death through a mechanism of endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis. Cell Death & Disease. M.P. Lim. 2011
- Study to Assess the Effect of Cannabidiol on Liver Fat Levels in Subjects With Fatty Liver Disease. Clinicaltrials.gov 2014
- Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ethan B. Russo. Ther. Clin. Risk Manag. 2008.
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