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Why CBD IS a Drug that hurts the body long term looks deeply but simply into how this herbal compound works in our bodies to help some people feel better, but why the effects are not ideal, other than in their short term benefits for some.
So we use salves, lotions, tinctures, gummies, chocolates and more, with this “medicinal” added in for its seeming health benefits.
I first learned of the dangers of CBD from my two favorite doctors, neither of whom know each other; nor do they have similar practices. Of course, I listened. We must always be willing to overturn our best held most precious comforts, if they’re not true. I was soon surprised to learn: Major scientific studies exist linking cannabis use with fatty liver disease!
These studies are not subversive ways to divert the population away from natural remedies toward pharmaceutical opioids. Rather, pretty basic physiological effects can be traced from the use of CBD.
In this article, we discuss how CBD use leads to fatty liver disease. And how the only way out is detoxing vitamin A and fat from the liver. Surprised? Read on …
Is CBD safe and healthy
It won’t be the first time in history that a substance was considered safe and healthy before findings revealed just the opposite.
For many, CBD and cannabis products have immediate benefits. Patients who struggle with pain, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation or other symptoms get relief.
In fact, CBD is not solving anyone’s problems. Rather, symptoms are allayed temporarily. If we really believe in looking for the root cause of symptoms, let’s look at the mechanisms at work and the real solution.
Meanwhile, side effects of CBD use may include:
- nausea or GI distress, including diarrhea and loss of appetite
- fatigue, slowed brain activity or sleepiness
- male reproductive toxicity, including as passed down from the mother who uses CBD (source)
CBD can cause or increase blood thinning, and it can also increase other herbs or pharmaceuticals in the blood by competing for liver enzymes that break down these medicines.
What is CBD
The famous and infamous plant, Cannabis sativa L, is the source of over 100 cannabinoids. These plant-derived chemicals have long been used for recreational and therapeutic purposes. The main psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant is tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC). This component was first isolated, identified and utilized in 1964.
THC-based drugs produce both therapeutic and undesirable psychological responses in the body.
Conversely, other components of the cannabis plant, such as cannabidiol (CBD), are devoid of the psychotropic effects.
What most people don’t know or understand is: The human body has cannabinoid receptors, and that’s why the active compounds in the cannabis plant affect us so strongly.
Yes, the way CBD affects the human body is a drug-like response.
Two types of cannabis plants may be used to produce CBD: hemp and marijuana. Whereas marijuana contains a large ratio of THC, hemp does not. And this is why hemp is often grown and is legal to grow in more states.
CBD seems harmless, right?
Endocannabinoids — what are they
Endocannabinoids are molecules made by the human body. They’re similar to cannabinoids, but they’re produced by the body instead of being taken in from food, smoking or topical treatments.
Scores of studies have been done on endocannabinoids (ECs). These studies also shed light on how cannabinoids affect human health.
Why CBD is a drug
Many many people will tell you that CBD is not a drug.
What my doctor said
Years ago, I asked my naturopathic doctor about using CBD to overcome insomnia. I thought as an N.D. educated in alternative practices and herbs, he’d be supportive.
Instead, he told me CBD was a drug, and it was best to avoid except in extreme cases (such as seizure treatment).
What is a drug
I now understand better what makes CBD a drug:
- Drugs interfere with the way neurons function. Cannabis activates neurons because its chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter in the body, but it sends abnormal messages through the network.
The basal ganglia
- In contrast to healing the body at the root cause level, drugs (and CBD) activate the basal ganglia, in ways that affect forms of motivation. (We’ve all heard marijuana accused of demotivating people away from bigger life ambitions.) CBD activates the basal ganglia, but its effects are less understood than THC’s effects.
- One reason CBD positively affects anxiety may be its effect on the basal ganglia, which helps to filter information: the brain can choose what is and what is not important to process, thus reducing unnecessary burdens.
- Conversely, users of CBD complain of panic attacks and mood swings. This reminds us of studies done on THC which show decreased overall function of the dopamine system and increased anxiety. Sounds like a drug, right?: Feels good at first (to some), then you need a little more to get the same effect, and pretty soon (for some) the effects are unreliable, intermittent and/or undesirable. (1, 2)
- When eaten with a sugared gummy or chocolate, for a more extreme example, CBD certainly has a dopaminergic effect, creating in the user a desire to repeat the feel-good feeling of say, reduced anxiety or pain, plus the “high” provided by the chocolate or sugar.
- But have we gotten to the cause of the anxiety or pain? We are simply temporarily “massaging” the basal ganglia. What if this symptom alleviation is creating a new and worse problem, one that can’t at first be seen or felt?
The prefrontal cortex
- CBD also affects the prefrontal cortex. This portion of the brain affects our ability to think, plan, solve problems, make decisions and have self-control over impulses. CBD impairs perceptive functions. (1, 2)
- Most importantly, for those who have short term benefits from the use of CBD, “Future studies should examine the effects of chronic administration on brain and behaviour, and whether acute brain changes predict longer-term response …”. Changes to the brain need to be further studied.
- Put simply, we know CBD affects the prefrontal cortex. Long term studies are needed (or just avoid CBD) to understand the damage this chemical may have on the brain with regular and repeated use.
- Yes, by this definition, other herbs can be said to have a drug-like effect as well. It’s possible that several herbs should be reconsidered in regard to their long term effects on the brain and/or liver.
- As we know, CBD’s mechanisms are particularly potent, which makes this herbal compound potentially more dangerous as well. Certainly liver studies already confirm this concern.
Pharmaceutical drugs made to affect the EC system
Interventions with man-made endocannabinoids have been trialed for their use with weight reduction and other health conditions.
The most famous drug made in hopes of positively affecting the EC system is Rimonabant (Acomplia-Sanofi-Aventis).
Despite obvious benefits of the drug on certain participants’ symptoms, frightening side effects included: depression, anxiety, irritability, aggression and two suicides, from the 6600 patients. (source) This drug ended up being banned and is an excellent example of the potential side effects that can happen when we alter the natural EC system.
Conclusion on CBD as a drug
While CBD does not cause a phychoactive response in the body, its effects do not work with the body in a supportive role. Rather, they create a temporary effect, like a drug, by attaching to receptors that change normal neural function.
Many people prefer this “easier” method of feeling better to doing the harder work of understanding and addressing their root cause. While that approach is certainly understandable, we learn in this article why the results can be disastrous to the liver long term, and possibly undesirable for long term brain health.
And so it’s time for more people to understand and make better choices for overall health.
CBD use can lead to weight gain
Both casual testimonies and well-documented literature attest to the craving side-effect of smoking marijuana. Craving foods, sweets and overall hunger directly result from ingesting or smoking cannabinoids.
Experiments in laboratory animals revealed that cannabinoids increased food intake. Now, multiple studies link high serum endocannabinoid levels with obesity:
- This study links cannabinoid receptor blockers with weight loss, independent of food intake.
- And this encouraging study shows endocannabinoid levels decreasing for obese men after one year of healthier eating and lifestyle choices, reducing multiple risk factors.
Cannabinoid use is disregulatory, leading to changes in weight and appetite. Because CBD affects the EC system, it can lead to weight gain or lack of appetite.
The science of WHY CBD causes fatty liver disease
Endocannabinoids (ECs) help our internal bodies run smoothly. The body produces them as needed, and because each body is unique and studies are limited, typical levels are not established.
The basics of how ECs, THC and CBD turn into fat
- Endocannabinoids (and THC) bind to two main endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 receptors — mostly found in the central nervous system (thus, the pain relief provided by CBD)
- CB2 receptors — mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells (often activated for those with autoimmune diseases)
- Note: CBD also binds to receptors. How CBD binds to receptors is different than how THC binds. The exact actions and receptors of CBD are not known, but the next insidious steps that occur are the same: Fatty acids are produced to break down the cannabinoids, which get stored in the liver.
- Fatty acids break down endocannabinoids (and cannabinoids) once they’ve carried out their function!
- These fatty acids can be processed in a few ways, one of which is storage in the liver, where they quite commonly become disease causing.
–> Simply put, this means that cannabinoids of all kinds make the body produce fat, which is then stored in the liver.
Fatty liver disease and diabetes both increase the likelihood of the other condition. Insulin resistance occurs from fatty acids in the liver. Insulin suppresses fat mobilization. Fat is stored in the liver with the intake of insulin. Fatty acid utilization occurs with physical activity.
Conclusion: Dietary changes (reduced overall food intake, a low vitamin A diet [discussed more below] and reduced fat intake + increased physical activity) improve liver health and insulin activity.
What’s the difference between CBD and marijuana
Smoking cannabis or eating it, often referred to as marijuana use, involves the ingestion of the whole plant, or the smoke of the whole plant.
The user is thus exposed to THC, the compound in cannabis that while having some positive effects for some people, overall has implicit dangers.
CBD, counter to most people’s understanding, has the same most important danger: fatty liver disease.
Both CBD, and the THC found in marijuana, lead to the same outcome: The body must produce fatty acids and store them, to process the cannabinoids taken into the system.
Is smoking marijuana safer than smoking cigarettes
Two studies of 315 daily marijuana smokers show fatty liver as an independent and direct result of daily cannabis smoking.
Inflammation, emphysema, bronchiectasis and more
Not surprisingly, smoking never was and never will be healthy. Pulling something into our lungs, other than fresh clean air, is bound to cause inflammation.
Interestingly, a new study out of Canada shows more inflammation and long term lung damage occurs from smoking marijuana than from smoking tobacco.
As more states legalize marijuana, it’s important to note that this herb is not only a drug, it’s a band-aid to calm bigger issues, and it’s not a safe band-aid, but rather, doing insidious damage.
CBD stores vitamin A + Why it makes you feel better
CBD ingestion causes the storage of vitamin A in the liver. For those who haven’t read my article on the topic already, increasing evidence is showing researchers that vitamin A is not a vitamin at all, but rather a toxin.
(Side note: Personally, I have been on a low vitamin A diet for over 3 and a half years, and my health is at its best. Many others are doing similar work with the same results. Low vitamin A experimenters have begun to show the world that this compound is not a nutrient. Read more on this topic here.)
Why CBD makes people feel better (calms down many symptoms) is that it inhibits the hepatic cycle and removes vitamin A from the bloodstream. But the downside and dangerous backfiring that occurs is that the liver does not process toxic bile efficiently, and over time, fatty liver disease occurs.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to detail this process more, so read up on vitamin A as a toxin here.
Is topical use of CBD safe and healthy
Our skin is the biggest organ in our bodies, and it absorbs everything into the water matrix of our blood and organs.
As one source says, “CBD has been found during the clinical trials … to cause liver dysfunction at high doses, so CBD use in cosmetics remains problematic.”
The fatty acids produced from CBD are taken from the skin to the bloodstream and then stored in the liver. They’ll wait there until the body may or may not have the ability to detox them.
So no, this pattern is not ideal or healthy. While our liver protects us from toxins by storing them, the liver’s capacity is limited. When it’s full, these toxins necessarily spill over into our bloodstream, and must be stored in other tissues as well, eventually causing additional symptoms and diseases.
Which topical products are worse and which products are better
Better — Certain products that contain CBD amidst many other natural ingredients AND that also get rinsed off rather quickly likely do less harm, products like: shampoo or shaving cream.
Worse — Other products that are meant to be powerful sources of cannabinoids are certainly going to affect liver health more, as they’ll be more fully absorbed and produce more fatty acids to break them down: salves, balms, lotions and creams.
Certainly it would be ideal if naturally minded (and all) companies excluded CBD from their ingredients, as CBD is now clearly linked in studies to fatty liver disease.
How do we support actual liver detox
The best way to detox fat from your liver, in general and from CBD you may have already taken, is to address liver health.
While many liver detox programs exist, most of them misunderstand the mechanisms at work. To detox the liver, a few steps are needed:
- Stop putting toxins into it.
- This oftentimes includes supplements you’re currently taking (more on working with a doctor below. Obviously, do not stop taking any prescriptions or other medications without working with your doctor.)
- Eat a much lower fat diet. (This can be quite surprising for those of us used to doing an Ancestral diet.) Especially avoid all vegetable oils, hydrogenated or man-made fats, lard and dairy fat, other than modest amounts of good quality butter/ghee, if it agrees with you.
- Eating a diet lower in fat and with better fats means eating homemade food. Almost all restaurants cook with vegetable oil, even most farm to table restaurants. (Ask them to use olive oil or butter only.)
- Stop drinking alcohol.
- Eat a diet low in vitamin A and high in clean protein and fiber.
- Open up clogged bile ducts gradually. Bile ducts that are clogged need to flow freely, but without overflowing toxic bile. Consider adding apple cider vinegar and activated charcoal to your daily routine.
- Support detox pathways by removing glyphosate from diet. Eat organic.
- Adjust mineral intake, unique for your body, usually by working with a doctor (more on Dr. Smith below).
What are alternatives to CBD
If you suffer from pain or anxiety, the best alternative in my personal experience is starting a diet low in vitamin A, so the liver can begin truly detoxing. Detoxing vitamin A enables and initiates a journey of allowing the body to heal itself overall, which includes detoxing copper.
Personally, my mental health improved in two days after starting a low vitamin A diet!
Regarding physical pain, the causes vary, but oftentimes are rooted in inflammation, so a low A diet also addresses this issue, for a variety of reasons: It is indeed an anti-inflammatory diet.
And happily, the best doctor I’ve encountered works with patients one-on-one via Zoom, so if you have serious health issues, you have a professional to walk side by side with you to help you overcome the bigger issues, as well as the surface symptoms. Find Dr. Smith and his Love Your Liver program here. (I benefit in no way if you work with Dr. Smith.)
Can CBD boost or balance the EC system
When websites boast that CBD can “boost” or balance your endocannabinoid system, the wishful thinking is based only on the positive studies that show CBD use benefits.
These inaccurate website sources also are not looking at the science of how the EC system works, nor the mysteries — what we don’t yet understand or know about undiscovered receptors and how they work.
No, you can not “boost” the EC system. This is naive, unscientific and unfounded talk.
While many in the natural living community tend to poo-poo medical warnings about cannabis and CBD, in this case, I personally find the warnings to be warranted and accurate. CBD is toxic to the liver, one’s overall health and may even be injurious to the brain.
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