Cannabinoids Protect Liver From Alcohol Damage, New Study Finds

Cannabis could reduce some of the liver damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption, according to a recent study.

The compounds found in cannabis were shown to reduce the toxicity in the liver caused by ethanol (the chemical compound found in alcohol) in a study involving rats.

These findings suggest that cannabis could potentially be a treatment for impaired liver function, also known as hepatotoxicity.

Previous research has found cannabinoids to protect against alcohol-related liver diseases and brain damage, as well as being associated with a reduction in alcohol use in those with alcohol use disorder.

New study

In the recent study, researchers divided the rats into seven groups, treating each group with different combinations of ethanol and cannabinoids (cannabis compounds) – although the abstract does not specify which cannabinoids were used.

The groups treated with higher doses of cannabinoids demonstrated a reduction in inflammation compared to the animals treated only with ethanol.

Further analysis showed that the cannabinoids acted as inhibitors to certain pathways involved in cellular responses to stimuli, such as inflammation.

Previous research

This isn’t the first time that cannabis has been studied as a potential treatment for alcohol-induced liver and brain damage.

  • In 2018, a study found that cannabis protects the liver from all kinds of diseases caused by alcohol, including fibrosis (scarring of liver tissue), cirrhosis (ultra-bad scarring of liver tissue), hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), steatosis (fat buildup in the liver), and liver cancer. The study found cannabis use cuts the chance of developing alcohol-related liver diseases by 50%. That’s right, smoking weed was found half the risk of disease caused by alcohol.
  • This 2013 study found that CBD reduced alcohol-induced brain damage by about 50 percent in rats. This, of course, doesn’t not mean the same result will be seen in humans, but there is also plenty of evidence both THC and CBD have brain-protecting properties. 
  • A 2019 study found that CBD not only reduced drinking in those with alcohol use disorder, but also reduced alcohol-related liver damage by modulating inflammation and reducing oxidative stress.
  • And in a separate study, researchers found that on days when participants in an alcohol treatment program consumed cannabis, their alcohol intake significantly decreased.


The results of a news study on rats suggest that cannabinoids can reduce the toxicity in the liver caused by ethanol.

While more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between cannabis and alcohol-induced liver damage, these findings – considered alongside previous research – offer promising evidence that cannabis may be a helpful tool in reducing the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

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