What is the Liver?
The liver is the largest solid organ found in the body and carries out hundreds of functions within the body, more than 500 to be exact. The liver’s main function include detoxifying, protein synthesis and creating chemicals for digestion. Although it is considered part of the digestive system, the liver helps the immune system by destroying bacteria and toxins that enter it through the gut.
This organ metabolizes fat, carbohydrates and proteins, all while storing vitamins and minerals. The liver is responsible for detoxifying the blood from hormones and outside chemicals, like medications and alcohol. It produces bile which is necessary for the small intestine and the absorption of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is utilized in the body to maintain normal blood clotting. This is the production source of albumin, the most common protein found in blood. Albumin maintains the pressure in blood vessels and prevents them from leaking.
Science Daily reported that chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is the 12th most common reason of death in adults in the United States. Damage to the liver can be genetic or environmental. The liver is capable of healing itself and regenerating, but if the damage is too extensive or continuous, it will lose this capability. Excessive alcohol use or obesity are examples of how to cause scarring (cirrhosis) to the liver, decrease its ability to function and lead to liver failure.
How Can CBD Help the Liver?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a physiological network that maintains internal functioning and the balance of many other systems within the body. The ECS requires cannabinoids to bind to receptors CB-1 and CB-2. One cannabinoid, CBD (cannabidiol), is capable of interacting with both of these receptors and provides the ECS with the compounds needed to operate.
While testing is currently being done on mice, the promising results are likely to lead to clinical testing in humans in the near future. Research points to the fact that the ECS is not involved unless the liver is unhealthy. When the ECS activates, one function it serves is initiating the inflammatory response when a liver sustains injury or tissue damage.
A 2011 study that was published in Cell Death and Disease found that CBD triggered the death of hepatic stellate cells, which are responsible for causing scar tissue in the liver. This means that CBD works towards stopping the progression of liver damage. The British Journal of Pharmacology published a study that credited CBD with improving hepatic encephalopathy, which is a neuropsychiatric disorder associated with liver failure. With this disorder, cognitive and motor function are diminished. The results of mice treated with CBD found that liver function was restored and brain function normalized.
With these kinds of results, it’s clear that further research and clinical testing in humans is needed. As CBD is being utilized to successfully treat a host of other conditions, it’s no surprise that cannabidiol is helping treat diseases of the liver.