Mall cannabis users use edibles as a non-pharmaceutical way to help them sleep. So much so that brands like 1906 Edibles market their best-selling Midnight Drops specifically as a sleep aid. Therefore, based in New York filmmaker, singer and actor Meryl Jones Williams took it occasionally for about six months. However, on March 6, she woke up with nausea and abdominal pain. A week later, the symptoms had not gone away. When she got to emergency care, she was immediately sent to the emergency room with acute jaundice, where things deteriorated further.
In a recent instagram post, Meryl said: “After a week in the hospital, various tests and almost liver failure with an otherwise healthy liver – it was discovered that I had suffered liver damage induced by drugs containing plants because of the Chinese herb corydalis…” which is the key ingredient in Midnight Drops.
Meryl would soon discover that she was not alone.
Evidence of liver damage from 1906 Edible’s Midnight Drops
After digging, Meryl and her partner “were horrified to find multiple stories about what happened to me and others”.
There are 100mg of Corydalis in a box of 1906 Midnight Drops.
Scattered among Midnight Drops customer reviews on various marijuana websites such as Weed maps, weed killer and iheartjane were warnings such as “After spending tons of blood tests and ultrasounds to find out the extent of my liver damage, the doctors came to the conclusion that it was corydalis at midnight” and “J spent the night in the ER… This product almost killed me.”
“I spent the night in the emergency room… This product almost killed me.” – From a verified purchase notice by Iheartjane
On a recent Reddit postuser wrote [sic] “I took 1 1906 midnight most nights and recently discovered liver damage. My doctors weren’t sure of the cause, until I mentioned that I took midnights. The user goes on to mention a friend suffering from a similar problem from the same edible, ending with “Not saying this will cause it for everyone, but felt I had to warn others!”
Corydalis and liver damage
According to Midnight Drops product page, corydalis “helps you fall asleep because of its sedative properties, and it helps you stay asleep because it targets body pain and tension, including acute, inflammatory, and neuropathic pain.” In a note below they also mention “Corydalis can cause serious health problems in rare cases and should be taken in consultation with a doctor”.
This warning is not currently on their packaging (and not everyone has the financial resources to seek medical attention when trying a new food.) The “serious health concerns” mentioned are liver damage due to the toxicity of THP, as well as nausea and fatigue.
We reached out to Katie Stema nationally certified and state-licensed Chinese herbalist, and the founder of Peak Extracts edibles in Portland, Oregon, for insights.
“First of all,” she remarked, “if they use a Chinese herb, they should have a Chinese herbalist on staff. [Second] Corydalis has a reputation in China as Chinese Advil. I use it all the time for pain, but it’s not usually used for sedation. She also pointed out that the 100mg of Corydalis per pill was “a pretty heavy dose…” that shouldn’t be used in isolation. “Many Chinese herbs help to lessen the side effects of each other. Corydalis would always be taken with licorice root, which helps the liver.
Katie also questioned the origin of the herb. “You can’t buy good Chinese herbs in the US unless you have a license…they would have been processed in a certain way from a certain part of China and certified by GMP [Good Manufacturing Practices, an Australian based international regulatory body]…so, immediate red flags.
“In short, herbs like Corydalis must be administered with a prescription and monitored by a licensed practitioner. So,  is already super far… You dose the low corydalis. But it seems like to get the sedative and hypnotic part you have to dose it high which is a really bad idea.
The 1906 Edible website states that “our goal is to make cannabis a normal and trusted part of everyday well-being…and to offer the healthiest cannabis format available.” Their low-dose products are advertised as having fast-acting, targeted effects through “six different thoughtful formulations of super-potent herbal medicines.”
When asked if 1906 had researched corydalis, CEO Peter Barsoom replied that his company had conducted extensive research on all of the herbs used in their products. “We have a team of botanists, pharmacologists, regulatory and compliance experts and countless others who have rigorously developed and tested our products…we will never include a substance of any kind that is not not as effective and is not FDA approved as a dietary supplement.”
(It should be noted that dietary supplements are exempt from FDA regulationsmeaning they can go to market with any claims a company wants to make on their websites or labels.)
1906 Edibles sources Corydalis powder from two nutraceutical suppliers, but Peter was unsure if they were GMP certified.
Peter has been aware of the dangers of corydalis in Midnight Drops for five years, saying he has been contacted by “less than 10” consumers with similar issues during that time. At every opportunity, the 1906 Edible Adverse Event Investigation Team tracks “…the [same] protocols you would expect in other regulated healthcare industries.
As to the question of why his product continues to cause liver damage to a small percentage of his customers, Peter points out that “the overwhelming majority of consumers in 1906 felt no negative reaction” and that “thousands of people use Midnight every day, and that saved their life… Midnight is the only thing that gives them a good night’s sleep.
Peter concluded that “every dietary supplement has unfortunate and rare instances where someone may have an adverse reaction,” but that 1906 continually tests its products and reworks its formulations to ensure customer safety.
1906 also offers Midnight Chocolate Gems which also contain Corydalis.
Currently, 1906 Edibles has no plans to pull its newest formulations of Midnight Drops from the shelves. Instead, “in the next two weeks, all products and inventory in every market will have [a] warning applied to it” and 1906 “is actively working on immediate improvements to Midnight Drops to improve efficacy and safety”.
It’s unclear why, if 1906 has been aware of the liver damage occurring in a small percentage of their consumers over the past five years and is constantly reworking their formula, they have not yet discovered a safe formulation or yet affixed a warning label on their products. .
Peter claims that in every case of liver damage they became aware of, they responded immediately with direct contact and in all cases “…there was a full recovery”.
At this time, Meryl still has not fully recovered. Her liver lab results are still at dangerous levels, but “…are going in the right direction because I’m off the pill…” When asked if she had one final thought, she replied “Me and others could have died. I wish the company would stop selling this product. Corydalis is a known liver toxin and should not be marketed as it does.
With the FDA’s anemic regulations on dietary supplements, unfortunately it’s up to consumers to be careful and make the risks of certain products known. Although corydalis doesn’t seem to cause liver damage in the majority of consumers, until companies like 1906 Edibles find a tested, safer source of Corydalis, maybe find another sleep edible.
Have you had any experience with 1906 Midnight Drops? Share your stories in the comments below.
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