Your Liver and Marijuana: 11 Things Everyone Needs to Know


If you want to read more about the relationship and probable effects of marijuana on your liver, then read on.

Liver and marijuana – The basics

Our liver works in many ways, and its main function is to regulate the chemical levels in the blood circulation and eventually filter out any harmful toxins in your body. With the consistent rise in the use of medicinal cannabis and the legalization of cannabis in many countries, it is clear that there are many people who turn to the use of both medicinal and recreational cannabis.

Because of the recent legalizations, many medical practitioners have included cannabis or marijuana in their prescription medicines for people who do not work well with conventional treatments or pharmaceuticals. Of course, with the countless benefits that cannabis can offer, there are still downsides and side effects. Cannabis has been long proven to be a good source of anti-oxidant with very effective anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. However, all substances, including cannabinoids, are metabolized by the liver, similar to all other medicines. There is a chance that cannabis or marijuana can negatively interact with other medicines and might have an effect on your liver, even if not directly.

It is a good point to ponder that the health benefits and therapeutic effects of cannabis can truly outweigh the bad and side effects. However, you have to understand that too much of everything is not recommended, especially if the substance you are taking might take a toll or have an effect on your body.

Liver disease and its causes

We all know that the liver plays an important role in our body as a part of our digestive system. The liver is also considered the largest organ inside the human body, and it does not just metabolize chemicals. It also helps in developing immunity and removing toxins from our bodies. As part of the digestive system, the liver takes part in controlling various gastrointestinal functions that help you stay healthy and functional. Damage in your liver may result in digestive issues and can even lead to problems and disorders.

Cannabis has been known to contribute to improving the way of living of many people; however, if not consumed and used properly, it can lead to issues. Marijuana and the liver are related and connected to each other because of the substance’s effect on liver functions. Liver problems such as FLD or fatty liver disease and cirrhosis can be brought about by drug and alcohol abuse, toxins, and an unhealthy food intake. Those issues differ from the hepatitis infections since they are mostly viral.

The signs and symptoms of a failing or a problematic liver may vary, but the most common ones are the swelling, and the yellowing of the eyes or skin, referred to as jaundice. Liver damage due to marijuana commonly includes extensive swelling of the abdomen and extremities, rases, changed color of the urine and stool output, and jaundice. Laboratory tests and blood works can greatly help in the diagnosis of liver disease.

Liver functions

As mentioned above, the liver is the largest organ inside the body and is a vital part of our digestive system. It is located just below the diaphragm and can weigh about 3 lbs. The main function of the liver is the metabolization of the substance intake by the human body and involved the production and excretion of bile, bilirubin, cholesterol, and toxins. The liver works to metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and ats in the body. Basically, the liver is a purification hall of our body that gets rid of the harmful toxins of the body. Because of its extensive and major function, the liver can be prone to injury, damage, and malfunctions.

Marijuana and health hazards

So, is marijuana bad for your liver? If taken correctly and in the right dosage, no, marijuana will not damage your liver. However, marijuana can not help with the existing problems and issues that you have with your liver. Still, it can help alleviate the symptoms brought about by liver damage, such as pain and lack of sleep.

There is a certain health hazard that you might be able to get from marijuana because of the THC content. THC is a psychoactive substance, and it might impair your judgment, movement, and speech. It can also alter the way that you understand and decipher some information. Cannabinoids may also affect balance, communication, and reflex time.

Can cannabis cause fatty liver?

FLD or fatty liver disease is often a result of too much alcohol intake, poor eating habits, and unhealthy food choices. There is still not much research and studies to prove that cannabis can damage or cause fatty liver; however, we know that cannabis can be of help.

In recent studies, cannabis has been eyed as a potential healing substance for both AFLD or alcoholic fatty liver disease and NAFLD or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Cannabis was proven to promote fibrosis or the development of fibrous connective tissue as an aid to damage. Additionally, because of the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis, they are also helpful in treating inflammation.

Is cannabis bad for your liver?

There have been enough studies and research to prove that the use of cannabis can create a hindrance in dependency and tolerance. Cannabis, if not properly used, can also cause psychiatric problems, nervous system disorders, poor work and life performance, cardiovascular diseases, and more. However, when used properly and with the guidance of a health care professional or a physician, cannabis can help cure the disorders, as mentioned above.

THC and CBD are among the most studied and most discussed cannabinoids, and variations depend on each strain. Both cannabinoids are typically inhaled or ingested. It is important to note that you take them in moderation to avoid damages to other organs in the body, especially the liver. Cannabis, when taken properly and correctly, will not be a problem for your liver.

Liver cirrhosis and cannabis

There are already studies and journals that showed evidence that the activation of certain endocannabinoid receptors can worsen patients’ health with cirrhosis. On the other hand, activating the different endocannabinoids can also help with liver problems, such as alleviating pain and inflammation and eventually putting positive effects on the patients towards healing and recovery.

It is clear that cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system can impact the liver from different angles and in different ways. That is why many studies should be done to explore and discover which strain and form of cannabinoids can impact the liver in a good way and which ones can cause further damage. A study on THC, in particular, and liver functions will aid future cases and decisions to improve further cannabis use and liver health for all medicinal and recreational marijuana users.

THC markers have already been studied, through the use of blood chemistry, from a healthy liver. No significant changes were noted aside from an improved liver function because of an elevated THC-Hydroxy level. This study, however, had a very limited scope and coverage because of the small size of the sample and participants; that is why further study is very much recommended.

Cannabis and alcohol abuse

Alcohol-related and drug-related hospitalization and deaths altogether contribute to a large number of dangerous figures in the world. There have been some research rising on whether cannabis use can effectively reduce alcohol abuse to lessen liver disease – unfortunately, the answer is no.

A study surfaced later that those with depression, mentally-ill, and alcohol use disorder turned to use cannabis and have worsened their liver status. The addition of cannabis to their regimen had no positive effect at all. Later on, it became obvious that cannabis users who are also alcohol-dependent or had alcohol use disorder deteriorated a lot more sooner than individuals who chose to opt-out cannabis use.

However, some studies showed that a healthy person without alcohol use disorder using cannabis is more protected from AFLD or alcoholic fatty liver disease, which shows that cannabis is more of a prevention than a cure to alcohol abuse and liver disease.

Cannabis to promote less drinking

Indeed, cannabis or marijuana can help you decrease alcohol intake provided that you still have a healthy liver, and the cannabis intake is done more orally. This is because cannabis, when ingested, can release compounds into the digestive tract with effects that can help you restrain alcohol until it is fully metabolized and absorbed into your bloodstream.

Weed consumption for people with liver disease

Consuming weed if you have an underlying condition such as a liver or hepatic disease is not recommended. Even if cannabis can help alleviate pain, inflammation, and even anxiety, it is still unclear that it can help you recover. It is best to avoid weed consumption if you have liver disease since it may or may not negatively affect your recovery and treatment. However, if you wish to take cannabis for the pain or other symptoms, you can ingest them orally through edibles, smoothies, or teas. Those methods of consumption are the healthiest and the safest way to do if you have underlying problems or conditions. Also, make sure that you are using only healthy and small amounts or microdoses.

Cannabis and your lifestyle

As mentioned above, and as we all know, too much of anything and everything is bad, which is true when it comes to cannabis use. Cannabis indeed has tons of health benefits and therapeutic effects. They are also known to help mothers in their postpartum period and can help patients who are dealing with anxiety, cannabis can even improve your way of life in general, and that is, of course, with proper use. The excessive and unhealthy use of marijuana, cannabis, or hemp can result in an unhealthy dependency on the substance and its effects. You definitely would not want that to happen since it may damage your health and you as a person, may negatively change your outlook in life and even your social relationships. The side-effects of cannabis use can also affect you long-term and can eventually become a hindrance in your physical, emotional, mental, and even economic development as a person.

So, to live a happy and healthy life free from any complications, you must use cannabis in moderation. We hope that you have learned a lot from this article and have made you understand the relationship between cannabis and the human body’s liver function.

Here’s an additional information that may help you:

  • Medical Marijuana:

Medical marijuana is prescribed by healthcare professionals to treat various medical conditions, including chronic pain, nausea, and epilepsy. Patients should consult their healthcare providers for guidance on how to use medical marijuana safely and effectively, taking into account any liver-related concerns.

  • Edibles and Liver Effects:

Edible marijuana products, such as cannabis-infused foods and beverages, are processed differently by the liver compared to inhaled forms. Consuming edibles can result in more potent and prolonged effects, as the liver converts THC into a more potent metabolite, 11-hydroxy-THC. Users should be cautious when consuming edibles to prevent overconsumption and potential adverse effects.

  • CBD and Drug Interactions:

CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is used in various products, including oils, creams, and tinctures. It’s important to be aware that CBD can interact with medications that are metabolized by the liver, potentially affecting their effectiveness. If you are using CBD alongside other medications, consult with a healthcare professional to ensure there are no adverse interactions.

  • Hepatitis C:

For individuals with hepatitis C, a liver infection that can lead to liver damage or cirrhosis, marijuana use may not be recommended. The effects of marijuana on the liver in this context are not well understood, and healthcare providers may advise against its use in hepatitis C patients.

  • Youth and Developing Brains:

Marijuana use in adolescents can have a different impact on the developing brain and liver compared to adults. Early and frequent marijuana use during adolescence may increase the risk of long-term cognitive and psychological effects. It’s crucial to educate young individuals about the potential risks associated with marijuana use.

  • Individual Differences:

Genetic and biological factors can influence how an individual’s liver processes marijuana. Some people may be more sensitive to its effects, while others may experience different reactions. Understanding your own tolerance and responses to marijuana can help you make informed decisions about its use.

  • Research Gaps:

While there is a growing body of research on marijuana and its effects, there are still many gaps in our understanding. Ongoing studies are exploring the long-term impact of marijuana use on liver health and other aspects of well-being.

  • Legalization and Regulation:

As more regions and countries consider or enact marijuana legalization, regulations surrounding its sale, distribution, and use continue to evolve. Staying informed about local laws and regulations is crucial to avoid legal issues related to marijuana.

  • Seek Professional Advice:

Ultimately, if you have concerns about how marijuana may affect your liver or overall health, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or specialist in cannabis medicine. They can provide personalized guidance and recommendations based on your specific circumstances and health status.