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Is Weed Bad for Your Liver?

By Kyle Kirkland
Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella, MD on December 18, 2021
Your liver performs some crucial jobs in your body. Here’s what science says about marijuana’s effects on it.

Your liver serves many functions, but its main responsibilities are regulating the chemical levels in your blood and filtering out any harmful toxins. 

Marijuana has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are believed to relieve pain in the liver, especially in alcoholics, Waqas Ahmad, MD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. He’s a family medicine physician and head of the medical advisory board at Insurecast. 

“However, chronic use in large amounts in non-alcoholics is associated with liver fibrosis,” Ahmad says, urging caution.

There is no single answer to the question of whether weed is bad for your liver, because the data and research are still in the early stages. A 2018 study in European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology found beneficial properties of marijuana in users with liver disorders, but cautioned that more testing was needed to fully understand effects.

Marijuana can also negatively interact with other medicines you may be taking, even if they’re not related to your liver. And there are still dangers associated with pot even if you only intend to use it for medical reasons. 

“All cannabinoids are metabolized through the liver, as are almost all conventional medications and other common substances. Cannabinoids, particularly CBD, can interact with many of these medications including warfarin and other blood thinners, other heart medications, and a range of potent immune-modulating drugs,” says Jordan Tishler, MD, owner of inhaleMD. “For this and other reasons, cannabis and CBD, in particular, should not be used to treat illness without the guidance of a trained cannabis specialist.”

As marijuana use increases, more data will become available to help medical professionals understand the short- and long-term effects of marijuana on the body. Negative effects from marijuana use may not seem obvious at first, so you must talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about recreational or medicinal marijuana use. 

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