BACKGROUND AND AIMS:
Utilization and safety of cannabidiol (CBD) in patients with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) are currently unknown. We aimed to identify the frequency of CBD use, impact on symptoms, and safety profile.
An invitation to complete a CBD-specific questionnaire was posted every other day to well-established autoimmune hepatitis Facebook communities (combined membership of 2600 individuals) during a 10-day study period. Age ≥ 18 years and an AIH diagnosis by a physician were the eligibility criteria for participation in the survey.
In total, 371 AIH patients (median age 49 years, 32% reported advanced fibrosis) completed the questionnaire. Respondents were 91% women, 89% Caucasian, and 89% from North America. Ninety-three (25%) respondents were ever CBD users, with 55 of them (15% of the survey responders) identified as current users. Among ever users, 45.7% reported their treating doctors were aware of their CBD use. The most common reason cited for CBD use was pain (68%), poor sleep (62%), and fatigue (38%). Most respondents using CBD for these symptoms reported a significant improvement in pain (82%), sleep (87%), and fatigue (61%). In ever CBD users, 17.3% were able to stop a prescription medication because of CBD use: pain medication (47%), immunosuppression (24%), and sleep aids (12%). Side effects attributed to CBD use were reported in 3% of CBD users, yet there were no reported emergency department visits or hospitalizations.
CBD use was not uncommon in patients with AIH, and its use was associated with reports of improvement in extrahepatic symptoms.