Preliminary research conducted by Validcare has concluded that there is no connection between cannabidiol (CBD) consumption and liver toxicity. The study was commissioned and designed in response to FDA’s requests, including the agency’s March 5, 2020 report to Congress requesting more science-based data, so it can determine the appropriate regulatory path for hemp-derived CBD products.
During the seven-month study, which consisted of 839 participants, researchers examined potential liver effects in adults ingesting oral forms of hemp-derived CBD for a minimum of 60 days.
“The way the protocol was written and the criteria of the candidates was written, we expected to get a generally very health population, and with that you would see about a two-and-a-half elevation of liver enzymes,” Patrick C. McCarthy, CEO of Validcare, tells Food Quality & Safety. “What we got was a population of at least 70% of people on at least one medication, and they are under the care of a physician. In that population, you’re going to see on average an 11% increase in liver enzymes, and we saw 9%.”
The investigators found no evidence of liver disease and there were no reported increases in the prevalence of elevated liver function tests when compared to a population with a similar incidence of medical conditions.
Winston Peki, owner and editor of herbonaut.com, a website specializing in reviewing CBD and cannabinoid-related scientific articles, said that aspect that deserves more attention. “The study’s investigators were surprised to find almost 70% of study participants reported having a medical condition and taking medications for those conditions, without an increase in reporting of adverse events,” he tells FQ&S. “From my five-plus years of researching CBD, I’ve come to the conclusion that potential interaction with pharmaceutical drugs is the biggest health risk related to CBD use.”
Still, this is just one study. FDA has warned that some cannabis plant components could be toxic to the liver.
Validcare is working on a larger cohort now to offer more data on liver safety. Those findings will hopefully be released later this year.