In this article, we’re going to address some concerns about CBD, we’ll get to know if CBD is toxic to the liver, how a natural product like CBD could become toxic, will there be signs if your dosage is toxic, and of course, how you can stay on the safe side of CBD.
What is toxicity?
Toxicity is defined as the degree to which a substance or agent (could be a toxin or poison) can harm a biological system or ecosystem when both are exposed to each other.
There are different types of toxicity.
Acute toxicity occurs if a substance causes a lot of harmful effects in an organism through a single or short-term exposure, sometimes almost immediately (seconds/minutes/hours/days). Death can be a major concern in cases of acute exposure.
For instance, carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty heaters.
Subchronic toxicity is the ability of a toxic substance to cause effects for several weeks or months, usually a result of continuous exposure. This exposure pattern is more common for some pharmaceuticals and environmental agents.
For example, over time, people who drank water delivered through lead pipes developed anaemia.
Chronic toxicity represents progressive damage to specific organ systems over an extended period, usually upon repeated or continuous exposure sometimes lasting for the entire life of the exposed organism. Over time, the effects become so severe that the organ can no longer function.
For instance, long-term cigarette smokers might develop chronic bronchitis or some other respiratory problems.
Can something good be toxic?
Yes. It sounds unbelievable, but something as good as water can become toxic and I don’t mean water with impurities. Overconsumption of water can lead to intoxication (hyponatremia). This happens when extreme water intake dilutes the quantity of sodium in the blood, which could then lead to impaired brain function and, in extreme cases, death.
But then, this shouldn’t be a deterrent to drinking a good quantity of water daily; hyponatremia is usually only a problem for people who force themselves to drink too much water or ultra-marathoners.
A glass of wine every weekend won’t kill you, you’d actually look younger, but two bottles of beer every day will probably hurt you in the long run. Same can be said of sugar, butter, and anything that goes into the body.
So, can CBD be toxic to the liver? Yes. Let’s see how
Under what circumstances can CBD be toxic to the liver?
Liver toxicity is considered to be an adverse reaction within the liver to a number of substances. The main culprits being drugs, alcohol, and some natural food supplements all take their toll on your liver.
CBD oil can induce liver damage, that’s if the liver doesn’t have enough time to regenerate, and this will typically occur at a really high dose of the compound. In order words, if you’re taking 10x more CBD than you should, then you might be inviting trouble.
Where is the research on CBD toxicity?
At best the “one” research on CBD-liver toxicity is bogus and makes a mountain out of a molehill. According to the research report, 6 mice were force-fed a single dose of CBD, ranging from a “low” dosage (246 mg/kg) up to a megadose (2460 mg/kg).
What this means is that they fed the mice about 2.5 grams of CBD for every kilogram of body weight, CBD which had been formulated as a hexane extract from cannabis. And, hexane is a neurotoxin which would need to be kept very low in order to stand a chance of passing through EU’s novel food claim.
According to the report, “75% of mice gavaged with 615 mg/kg developed a moribund condition.” 75% of 6 mice equal to 4.5. So technically, four-and-a-half mice died and one-and-a-half survived this ridiculously high dosage.
Another study by the same set of researchers was conducted to assess the possible interaction between CBD and acetaminophen (sold as paracetamol or Tylenol) in female mice. Though this time the doses of CBD used in the study are lower compared to the first because acetaminophen on its own really stresses the liver. The dose of acetaminophen used is very high for a mouse (400 mg/kg) and the researchers do not offer any data on how that value can be translated to human dosage.
In the second test, three out of eight mice treated with acetaminophen and a “low” dosage of CBD (116 mg/kg) died within a couple of hours. And, contrary to expectations, none of the mice force-fed a high dose of CBD died, which the researchers explain away with technical jargon.
Now, we’re not saying CBD cannot be harmful just to push our products out there, no! The problem with studies like these two that cry wolf is that they distract from serious research into real risk.
CBD – roughly 20-50 mg/kg – can lead to issues within the liver, this is because of CBD’s ability to inhibit enzymes that metabolise drugs, but the caveat here is “very high” dosage per day.
Yes, water has the ability to dilute blood-sodium content, but this will only become an issue if you are gulping over 8 litres daily and not replacing the sodium you’ve lost.
Symptoms of a toxic CBD dosage?
We’ve established the fact that, over time, certain amounts of CBD and water “can be” toxic, but how do we know when to cut back and let the body recover? The answer lies in the side effects of CBD:
There are side effects you’d experience when using CBD products such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dry feeling in the mouth, and lethargy.
What to do if your dosage is toxic
If a dosage of CBD amplifies these side effects to the extent where you cannot go about your daily life, then it’s probably high and you need to cut back; maintaining or increasing the dosage is definitely an invitation for trouble down the road.
How can you use CBD oil safely?
Whenever the discussion of CBD settles on the topic “safety”, we always recommend starting out with the right foot. Meaning you need to have a good knowledge of CBD, find a delivery method that you prefer, sort out for a good product from a reliable brand, and ensure you get the dosage right – or close.
How do you know where to strike a balance between “okay”, moderate, and an overdose? We elaborate on that in our dosing guide, you’ll be calculating your dose like a pro in no time.
Of course, from this article, you can tell that we’re pro-CBD, true! While the CBD toxicology study shows that CBD can cause liver damage, the doses used in the test were about 10-20 times more than the recommended maximum dosage and way more than what the average consumer takes.
So the main takeaway would be that CBD has health benefits, but you can damage your liver if you try to abuse it. However the same could be said about alcohol.