To date, two cannabinoid receptors have been identified in the human body, CB1 and CB2, the medicinal effects of cannabinoids are expressed via these receptors. In a healthy liver the expression of cannabinoid receptors is low or absent, however (as per the study below):
“many reports have proven up-regulation of the expression of CB1 and CB2 receptors in hepatic myofibroblasts and vascular endothelial cells as well as increased concentration of endocannabinoids in liver in the course of chronic progressive liver diseases”
Studies into the anti-cancer effects of cannabinoids have shown that the main anti-cancer effects are achieved by activation of the CB1 receptor, the CB1 receptor is the “lock to the door” of the cancerous cell and THC is the key. Not every healthy cell has a cannabinoid receptor, however when a cell turns cancerous part of the mutation seems to be the creation of a CB receptor. In liver disease it seems there is a similar process at work.
The report goes on to say:
“It has been shown that CB1 receptor signalling exerts profibrogenic and proinflammatory effects in liver tissue, primarily due to the stimulation of hepatic stellate cells, whereas the activation of CB2 receptors inhibits or even reverses liver fibrogenesis. Similarly, CB1 receptor stimulation contributes to progression of liver steatosis”
THC has an affinity for the CB1 receptor and CBD for the CB2 receptor.
“Hepatic fibrosis is a dynamic process resulting from liver tissue injury. Previously, it was believed that hepatic fibrosis is irreversible. However, current knowledge allows us to consider fibrosis as an active, potentially reversible process originating from wound-healing responses to chronic liver injury of various etiology”
The full report is available below:
Role of cannabinoids in chronic liver diseases
“CONCLUSION The role of the endocannabinoid system in hepatic physiology and pathologic conditions has been studied recently. Unquestionably, influencing endocannabinoid signalling may have a beneficial effect on delaying or even reversing hepatic fibrosis. It is particularly important due to the lack of antifibrotic drugs with established advantageous profiles of activity, despite years of investigations into this subject. Thus, further research may provide the valuable means of management in hepatic fibrosis in the future.
Download the .pdf: Here
Note of caution:
“Clinical data on the effects of cannabinoids in chronic liver diseases are limited. However, recent studies have shown the contribution of cannabis smoking to the progression of liver fibrosis and steatosis. Moreover, controlling CB1 or CB2 signalling appears to be an attractive target in managing liver diseases”
So far, available evidence is based on cellular cultures or animal models.