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CBD OIL a triumph of hope over reason? Does it affect the liver?

My poor inbox groans under the weight of CBD articles and pitches. I've hesitated to jump into this pit again but I get a steady stream of questions from patients about using it.


We need to be clear about this issue.  CBD oil is biologically active. However, that doesn't mean it is good or bad for you. In reality we just don't know enough yet to have a valid opinion.

Let's be clear.  I'm not part of the debate about this plant.

I know it has been used for thousands of years and there are passions all around.  I'm about prudent behavior.  What is the risk/benefit of whatever you choose to do? Can you get enough information to make an informed choice about things like CBD oil which has become the latest fad darling of the supplement industry.

Since we are a liver disease community, the only focus I can bring to this is one that might inform you about some aspects of the use of this material. I've commented on the supplement problem before.  Here is a link to CBD Oil Stranger Danger if you would like to review.

If you are a patient there is something you need to understand about CBD.  It is metabolized by the liver. That means that when you take it you are asking an organ that is already working hard to manage something new. You will probably be told that the benefits are so great it doesn't matter but there is an aspect of how it works that is of particular concern for anyone who is taking medications.

The liver has a super family of enzymes which are responsible for clearing toxins from the body.  It is called the CYP450 family.  As a patient, what you need to understand is that this group of enzymes manages many of the medications that you are taking.  The meds that you take are processed by the body and your doc gives them to you on a schedule that is intended to provide a proper dosage which matches the rate at which your liver eliminates it from your blood.

OK smarty pants.  Why is that important?

You need to know that CBD oil is processed by the CYP450 family. If you overload that system with things like grapefruit juice or CBD oil it can cause you to build up the blood levels of medicines you are taking and that can be harmful. In some cases it even leads to overdose.

This is just one of the issues that come from adding things to your menu that we don't really understand. The mix of molecules in your blood matters. Dose matters. Research will, in time, answer our questions about CBD but in the meantime caution is appropriate.

For another article on CBD oil and liver damage click here

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