Recent studies discovered that CBD or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound extracted from cannabis, can improve the treatments for a variety of illnesses and make them more efficient. The same happened in the case of liver diseases, number studies being conducted to understand better how CBD acts when the liver is damaged and in what ways this compound can be used to improve the life quality in the case of patients that suffer from various liver conditions.
The Endocannabinoid System & the Liver
It is known that the human body has a number of cannabinoid receptors, CB(1) and CB(2), which form the endogenous cannabinoids system. These receptors bind to the CBD molecules and create a set of reactions that are beneficial for our body’s processes, although how this happens is not fully understood by researchers.
When it comes to CBD and liver diseases, researchers discovered that the EC system, mentioned earlier, is not active when the liver is healthy. But, once a chronic liver disease gets installed, the EC system is “turned on”, being part of the pathogenesis of a series of liver conditions, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fibrosis progressing to cirrhosis, and appearance of cardiovascular abnormalities developed by the presence of cirrhosis.
Also, in case of acute injury of the liver, EC is responsible for some of the inflammatory responses and influences the mechanisms that manage cell damage; this is why it is considered to have great potential when it comes to treating liver diseases.
Cannbinoid Receptors (CB1) and the liver
The CB(1) agonists are currently considered the best available option in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver and even of cirrhosis, the patients that utilized this pharmaceutical tool showed improvements in their condition, the development of fibrosis being slowed down, while the cardiovascular alterations associated with an advanced stage of the illness were attenuated.
Also, CBD can be the answer doctors are looking when the aim is to protect the liver against injuries.
The signaling of the inflammatory process and the liver’s responses in cases of hepatic ischemia or reperfusion injury are significantly reduced by cannabidiol, which prevents the oxidative stress and death of liver cells. In case of liver surgery or liver transplant, the biggest challenge is to prevent the liver from being damaged.
Laboratory studies on mice determined that CBD can be a highly efficient new strategy of managing the inflammation and tissue injury of the liver, working independently of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which makes the discovery even more important.
CBD & liver fibrosis
If we are to take a look at a fibrotic liver, the condition appears when the hepatic stellate cells are activated, which multiply excessively and produce collagen in excess quantities, leading to liver fibrosis. CBD was proved to produce the death of these activated hepatic stellate cells, which can turn into an effective treatment for liver fibrosis.
In another study involving mice that suffered from hepatic encephalopathy, the use of CBD shows that a better treatment can be indeed developed. Hepatic encephalopathy appears when an acute or chronic liver failure occurs, leading to this neuropsychiatric disorder.
The mice treated with CBD for this particular disease showed improvement in their liver functions, as cannabidiol restored the plasma levels of ammonia, liver enzymes, and bilirubin. At the same time, the administration of CBD helped to normalize the brain function of the same mice as well, which is considered to be possible due to the double action of CBD, both on the brain and liver at the same time.
CBD & Liver Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis, a liver disease that is affecting so many people, also has high chances to be treated by CBD in the near future. Of course, many still have to be discovered and understood when it comes to the action of CBD on the liver and human organism, as it is a complex process that has been unrolled in in-vitro studies and on laboratory mice and rats.
But, the results that have been obtained this way are more than promising, so clinical trials of CBD treatments for liver conditions may soon follow to attest the validity of CBD treatment. In previous studies, the cannabinoid receptor CB1 was proven to have a positive impact on the management of liver fibrosis, non-alcoholic cirrhosis, and a number of other conditions that affect the liver.
The Importance of activation of the CB2 Receptors in the case of a Liver disease
But switching off or blocking the CB1 receptor could slow down the process of liver disease. This is one of the reasons why CBD as a cannabinoid is so promising as a therapeutic agent in liver diseases. It acts as an antagonist to THC and can block the activation of the CB1 receptor.
However, CB2 receptor activation has shown beneficial effects on alcoholic fatty liver, hepatic inflammation, liver injury, regeneration and fibrosis and CBD has that potential. Therefore, research suggests that using Cannabinoids to selectively activate the CB2 receptor offers therapeutic potential for cirrhosis and other liver diseases
But, there are studies to show that cannabinoid receptor CB2 can be as useful and efficient when it comes to liver diseases, showing positive results in the case of alcoholic fatty liver, liver injury, fibrosis, and hepatic inflammation. Thus, using cannabis extracts that will particularly activate the CB2 receptor may indeed help in the treatment of these conditions.
Studies on CBD & Liver diseases
In the studies of mice suffering from liver failure, CBD helped by restoring their liver function more efficiently than traditional treatments. In the case of CBD administration, the liver is also protected against ischemia reperfusion, which is one of the most important mechanisms that damage a liver affected by cirrhosis, reducing tissue injury through oxidative and nitrative processes and minimizing the inflammatory pathways.
It is worth noting that these protective actions occur independently on the impact CBD has on the CB2 receptors of the body, which makes them even more efficient and important. When it comes to liver damage caused by alcohol consumption, CBD can protect the liver for being damaged, even more, reducing the autophagy and oxidative stress triggered by alcohol intake. But, the use of CBD in managing cirrhosis goes further than just protecting the liver and aiding in getting its functions restored.
It can also improve the condition of the patient by reducing the presence of symptoms associated with cirrhosis, such as nausea and vomiting, regardless of their causes. At the same time, it improves appetite and leads to the stabilization of the patient’s body weight.
So, CBD has a bright future when it comes to finding a more effective treatment for a variety of liver diseases. The numerous studies made to better understand the action of CBD in the case of liver damage and failure proved that the liver’s functions can be restored, totally or partially, repairing other damages that are produced by severe liver illnesses, such neuropsychiatric disorders, and minimizing the presence of unwanted symptoms. Patients that suffer from various liver diseases could have a chance to live a normal life if CBD will be considered a viable treatment.
Other resources and links
- The endocannabinoid system and liver diseases
- Cannabidiol protects against hepatic ischemia/reperfusion injury by attenuating inflammatory signaling and response, oxidative/nitrative stress, and cell death
- Cannabidiol causes activated hepatic stellate cell death through a mechanism of endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis
- Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol against ischemia/reperfusion liver injury in rats
- Role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in amelioration of experimental autoimmune hepatitis following activation ofTRPV1 receptors by cannabidiol
- Cannabidiol improves brain and liver function in a fulminant hepatic failure-induced model of hepatic encephalopathy in mice
- Cannabidiol ameliorates cognitive and motor impairments in mice with bile duct ligation
- Potential of CBD for the Treatment of Viral Hepatitis