Before adding any new supplement to your daily routine, you need to think about the potential risks.
Could it do more harm than good?
Could you be getting too much of a good thing?
And could it interact with other medications?
CBD oil is pretty new to the market, so many customers approach it with a reasonable degree of caution.
They are not only nervous about its origins, but they are also nervous that there are still lots of things we don’t know about how it interacts with the body.
Studies are still ongoing, so when a new research team releases any data, the press is quick to jump to conclusions. For example, a recent study in mice found that CBD could cause liver damage.
But is CBD oil bad for your liver?
But when we dig a little deeper, we learn that this could prove to be little more than clickbait.
With so many people searching for CBD products and CBD information, there is clearly a public appetite for information about the supplement.
So when an article appeared in Forbes magazine highlighting the risk of liver damage linked to CBD use, many people were naturally concerned.
What's in this Guide?
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a supplement extracted from the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive, which means it does not alter the user’s mental state. It is a compound known as a cannabinoid that is capable of interacting with the human endocannabinoid system.
Another cannabinoid is THC, which is responsible for the cannabis “high”.
CBD oil is often taken as oral drops under the tongue. It is absorbed into the bloodstream through the small blood vessels in the mucous membranes.
The rest is swallowed, digested and eventually broken down and filtered out by the liver.
What Does The Science Say?
The study at the heart of the controversy appeared in the Molecules Journal in April 2019.
The study aimed to determine if CBD extracts cause damage to the liver in high concentrations.
The study was split into two parts. For ten days, the acute toxicity group was given either 0, 246, 738, or 2460 mg/kg of CBD per day.
The sub-acute toxicity group was given either 0, 61.5, 184.5, or 615 mg/kg of CBD per day for the same period.
Within 24 hours, the mice that received the highest doses of CBD showed liver damage.
In the sub-acute toxicity group, 75% of those that received 615 mg/kg died within three days.
This naturally led to fear within the CBD community that their new favourite supplement might not be safe.
So, how worried should we be?
What Does The Liver Do?
The liver is a multitasking organ with more than 500 different functions. It’s involved in everything from storing energy to cleaning toxins from the blood.
The liver also produces bile which is essential for digestion.
The liver is also responsible for maintaining balance throughout the body by regulating chemical levels in the blood.
We know many things can damage the liver, including a high-fat diet, too much sugar, overuse of pain medications and even high doses of vitamins, including vitamin A.
Since the liver is the final stop on the journey through the body for your CBD oil supplement, you might be worried about the findings of the mice study.
But there are a few reasons to approach this research with caution.
Is CBD Oil Bad For My Liver?
The first thing to note about the study is that the CBD doses studied were exceptionally high. According to the Food Standards Agency, healthy adults should not exceed more than 70mg of CBD per day.
The study was intended to look at the liver toxicity level of CBD to determine if there is potential for an overdose.
If you go to your local pharmacy for pain medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen, you’ll be given a large leaflet with instructions for how to take it.
You will also see a warning not to exceed a certain number of doses per day in these instructions. It’s accepted that paracetamol is safe, as long as you don’t take too much of it.
And CBD products should be treated the same way.
Is CBD Safe?
The World Health Organisation has determined that CBD has a good safety profile and is well-tolerated by most people.
But since CBD has not been studied to the same extent as drugs such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, it’s down to individuals to take responsibility for how they use CBD.
There are some risks associated with CBD, and it is capable of interacting with some medications.
As a general rule, if your medication carries the grapefruit warning, then you want to avoid CBD.
Some types of CBD have a higher potential to be dangerous to your liver than others. Any CBD that is marketed as water-soluble may be produced using a method called nanoemulsion.
This process breaks down the CBD molecules into nanoparticles, and these have a higher risk of building up in organs.
However, we still don’t fully understand the implications, so it’s difficult to say with confidence if this type of processing is safe.
There is also the risk that your CBD oil could be contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides and other nasties. This is typically only a risk if you buy your CBD from a less reputable supplier.
The best CBD companies take the quality of the final product very seriously.
Too much of anything is a bad thing.
For example, paracetamol can be toxic and damaging to the liver in very high doses.
Even vitamins like vitamin D, calcium and folic acid can be harmful if taken in very high doses.
While we appreciate any study that sheds more light on the safety and impact of CBD oil, but it’s worth remembering that these studies are intended to explore the safe limits.
If you are healthy and taking a safe amount of CBD per day, there is very little evidence to indicate this could damage your liver.