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Are Edibles Bad for Your Liver?


October 18, 2021

Whether you rely on medical marijuana for symptom relief or consume cannabis recreationally, it’s natural to weigh the pros and cons of any addition to your health and wellness regimen.

In most cases, cannabis edibles serve to deliver a range of benefits. They may soothe pain, enhance sleep, stimulate appetite, and boost mood, among other things.

However, there has been some concern about how cannabinoids, the chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, might interact with the liver. Some speculate that they could cause harm, much like pharmaceuticals or alcohol, but others think there are only benefits to be gained. Are edibles bad for your liver? Here’s what you should know.

The Liver’s Role in Digestion

Before we start shipping the liver and cannabis as a modern power couple, let’s take a minute to consider what, exactly, the liver does.

The liver is sort of like a recycling plant. It sifts through all of the blood exiting the stomach and intestines, determines which nutrients and chemicals are safe for the body, and pumps the waste out with bile to purge it further down the digestive line.

When you ingest chemical compounds, like cannabis or pharmaceutical drugs, the liver sorts the good from the bad. It acts as a filter for anything that goes into your mouth and through your digestive system.

Edibles and Your Digestive Tract

What happens when you ingest chocolates, gummies, baked goods, and other tasty edibles infused with cannabis? Like other chemical compounds, any cannabinoids you ingest get processed and metabolized (converted into a form the body can use), just like other medications.

Interestingly, the pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis can prove beneficial to those with certain liver problems, just as it benefits patients with other pain and inflammation conditions. So, why is there cause for concern?

Like anything in life, it comes down to moderation. There is some speculation that cannabinoids, particularly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can harm the liver when present in high concentrations for extended periods, similar to the effects of alcohol.

However, the evidence so far doesn’t bear this out. While studies in this area are lacking, and scientists must do further research to gather conclusive evidence one way or another, one study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 2018 found no evidence that delta-9 THC impairs liver function.

Edibles vs. Pharmaceutical Treatments

In truth, cannabis tends to be gentler on the body than some pharmaceutical drugs intended for similar purposes. Consider simple, over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) like aspirin.

In high doses, aspirin can cause moderate to severe serum aminotransferase elevations, indicating liver damage, which can sometimes lead to jaundice, liver dysfunction, and more.

To date, there’s been no evidence of such issues with cannabis consumption, even in higher doses. Although research is limited, signs so far point to benefits for the liver when patients ingest edibles.

If you’re interested in exploring all of your health and wellness options, Freedom Road proudly offers a variety of premium quality edibles from trusted brands. Check out our selection of edibles and other products to find the options that best serve your personal needs and preferences.