Contraindication: Taking CBD can multiply the negative effects of acetaminophen-induced liver damage
02/12/2020 // Lance D Johanson // Views

Acetaminophen is one of the most abused over-the-counter drugs. Countless families needlessly use acetaminophen to reduce a fever, interfering with a vital function of the immune system, delaying one’s ability to recover from an infection. According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, acetaminophen is found in over 600 OTC products and is used by 23 percent of Americans in any given week. Effective for reducing pain in the short term, acetaminophen over time can induce liver damage and thwart the body’s ability to overcome infection. This drug can also induce nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and severe stomach pain. It can lead to episodes of light-headedness, sweating, muscle weakness and even fainting. The drug can severely affect the urinary tract, making it difficult to pass urine. It may also cause yellowing of the whites of the eyes.

CBDs and acetaminophen don't mix

Now a new study published in the journal Molecules finds that acetaminophen-induced liver damage can be made worse when combined with a common supplement that is also used to manage pain. Acetaminophen-induced liver damage is made worse when CBD (cannabidiol) and acetaminophen molecules interact. One of the most important active ingredients of cannabis may exacerbate liver damage in the presence of acetaminophen.

The study, led by Drs. Igo Koturbash and Bill Gurley from the Center for Dietary Supplements Research, demonstrated that CBD modulates the drug-metabolizing enzymes that result from reactions between acetaminophen and ethanol. Understanding this, the researchers wanted to know whether CBD’s interaction increased the toxicity of acetaminophen. So, they put the molecules to the test in a dose-relationship, using nine month-old mice to simulate how the molecules would interact in an elderly humans.


Using equivalent doses of CBD extract and acetaminophen over a three-day period, the researchers demonstrated liver injury and/or death in 40 percent of the animals. The combination caused sinusoidal obstruction syndrome, a pattern of liver injury and death. The condition was not observed in any of the controls. CBD alone did not cause damage to the liver. Even though acetaminophen does cause damage to the liver, sinusoidal obstruction syndrome was not observed in the control group that was given only acetaminophen.

This is an important contraindication. Many seniors rely on acetaminophen and CBD for their pain. The two substances interact in a way that causes rapid deterioration of the liver. The National Institutes of Health warns that acetaminophen is a “well established cause of liver injury,” but usually liver injury only occurs when acetaminophen is administered in high doses, in accidental overdoses, or in normal doses over a long period of time. This is the first time researchers have found that the drug can cause rapid liver failure when it comes in contact with a natural substance like CBD.

CBD works with the body's endocannibinoid system

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the safer bet for modulating pain, especially for seniors. People who suffer from chronic pain are turning to CBD oil for relief, but they should be aware that mixing acetaminophen with CBD can have terrible consequences. Unlike synthetic pain relievers, CBD works with the body’s endocannibinoid system. CBD mitigates chronic pain by accessing the endocannibinoid receptors throughout the body, exerting pain-relieving effects. Through these natural mechanisms, CBD can interact with neurotransmitters and decrease systemic inflammation. Because it is able to communicate with serotonin receptors in the brain, CBD can regulate mood, appetite and sleep -- easing depression and anxiety. CBD oil has also been used to treat childhood seizure disorders.

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