CBD, THC, and the Immune System
We are continuously exposed to bacteria, infectious diseases, and allergens (antigens), all of which can and wreaking havoc with our bodies.
Without any defenses to keep these invaders suppressed, our lifespans would decrease significantly.
The Immune System: A Brief Overview
Our immune systems are powerful: they are composed of a complex network of cells, organs, and tissues running with perfect precision and keeping us healthy.
An important tool in the immune system’s arsenal are white blood cells or leukocytes, which identify and destroy all unwanted visitors.
Leukocytes are be divided into two groups: 1) lymphocytes (B cells and T cells) that eliminate antigens and help the human body to remember previous attackers; and 2) phagocytes that absorb and destroy foreign intruders.
Most of us are familiar with T cells because of their relationship with the HIV virus, which destroys them; this is why HIV patients are vulnerable to normally harmless infections.
The body’s immune system also plays a critical role in detecting malfunctioning cells inside our bodies, and, through the process of apoptosis, ensures that these cells stop growing and becoming tumors.
Does CBD Oil Boost the Immune System?
Many studies have revealed that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, which help support the immune system by decreasing levels of inflammation.
Many autoimmune diseases are caused by increased inflammation, and CBD can combat this as it works to strengthen the immune system.
Additionally, CBD displays positive effects in cases where the immune system becomes weakened or hyperactive.
Hyperactive immune systems overreact when they are met with diseases or allergens, causing it to harm the body in some cases.
This is the case with multiple sclerosis, where the immune system damages the central nervous system due to hyperactivity, scarring tissues, and destroying nerve fibers.
Only recently, studies have revealed that CBD is effective in reducing pain and improving mobility in patients living with multiple sclerosis. Inflammation is vital for the immune system to fight off infections.
It’s a natural response that stops diseases from spreading by isolating infected and damaged cells. Therefore, inflammation is required to prevent the weakening of the immune system and to fight certain types of diseases. CBD works to maintain balance and homeostasis between the functions of a healthy immune system.
The immune system fights against disease in two ways, humoral immunity, and cell-mediated immunity. To keep the functions of the immune system optimal, balance is required between these two complex immunities.
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for the regulation and balance between cell-mediated and humoral immune responses. Therefore, the stimulation of the ECS by CBD and other cannabinoids helps to enhance the responsivity, function, and balance of the immune system. It can be said that the ECS and CBD work in synergy to maintain the optimal functioning of the human immune system.
Before supplementing with CBD specifically to improve the immune system, anyone suffering from an immune-damaging condition should speak to their physician.
Additionally, constant monitoring is advised in the initial stages of supplementation, especially if CBD is being used to replace a prescription medication for immune-support.
Cannabis and the Immune System
Cannabis includes over 400 different molecules. Some of these molecules are well-studied cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, over 100 minor cannabinoids, a host of flavonoids, and dozens of terpenes in varying combinations in accordance with individual cannabis strains.
There has been extensive research undertaken on individual cannabinoids, especially CBD and THC. However, the research into the positive effects that these cannabinoids have on our immune systems is ongoing.
THC has been the focus of the majority of research conducted so far. The molecule binds to the CB2 receptors in our bodies and brains and activates them, which triggers an anti-inflammatory effect.
This would suggest that THC is an immunosuppressant. For this reason, THC shows promise for treating autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Crohns.
CBD, despite reduced binding affinity with cannabinoid receptors in comparison to THC, is also considered to be immunosuppressant. CBD helps to reduce cytokine production3 and inhibits T-cell function 4.
There is currently a new wave of research and increasing anecdotal evidence that points towards cannabinoids having an adaptive, immunomodulating effect, rather than just suppressing immune activity. This great news for the medical marijuana industry, and especially optimistic news as the Coronavirus sweeps across the world in the recent pandemic.