We all know what the immune system is since we pretty much all took 6th grade biology. If you’re reading this, you probably have at least an idea what CBD is. That’s is the point where things generally get fuzzy though. Most people don’t have questions like: “Does CBD help immune system?”
While Cannabis has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties it is only just recently that scientist have started to study the how, why, and what CBD helps with.
Due to this, we really don’t know much about cannabinoids like CBD and how they play apart in our complex biological systems.
There is a lot that needs to be researched concerning CBD and the Immune System. In this article we’ll dive into everything that scientists have discovered, and what those discoveries point to.
Overview of the Immune System
The Immune system is a network of cells, organs, proteins and tissues designed to protect our bodies from a variety of bacteria, viruses, parasites and contagions sitting on surfaces or floating through the air.
A healthy, correctly functioning immune system identifies, responds, and illuminates threats to your body with a precise process known as an immune response. We’ll briefly dive into the different
White Blood Cells
Also known as leukocytes, white blood cells are the front line of defense against pathogens looking to harm the body. These cells float through the body in your blood stream until they find a target, then they multiply and send signals for other cells to help.
There are two types of leukocytes, Phagocytes and Lymphocytes.
Phagocytes surround, absorb and breakdown harmful pathogens when found in the body, effectively eating them and neutralizing the negative effects.
Lymphocytes are the leukocyte responsible for remembering previous invaders and are also found in two different forms. B lymphocytes produce antibodies for prior infections and help alert the other form of the T lymphocytes. The T lymphocytes are in large part task with destroying compromised cells.
A properly functioning immune system will regulate the balance between cell growth and death. If this balance is thrown off problems, start to arise.
Cancer, for instance, often stems from not enough old, damaged cells being cleared out while autoimmune disorders happen when too many cells are dying.
Interaction of Immune and Endocannabinoid Systems
Because the balance of the immune system is so delicate, yet so vitally important for health anything that can help maintain that balance is a benefit.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS), only recently discovered by scientists in the 1990s, has been found to be a homeostatic regulator. This means it is always working to maintain a state of balance in the body biologically.
One of the main components of the endocannabinoid system are G protein-coupled receptors known as CB1 and CB2. Both CB1 and CB2 are found in our immune cells and thus any cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) directly affect immune cells.
Early research points to the ECS being an immunosuppressant, meaning that the CB2 receptors specifically have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Thanks to this function cannabinoids should be a therapeutic substance for autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases.
CBD Oil’s Effect on the Immune System
While cannabis has over 100 minor cannabinoids, THC and CBD remain the main two and look to have the biggest effect on how the body is affected.
One of the more exciting things that is being researched today is the evidence that CBD and THC are adaptive, immunomodulating agents.
Up until recently we just knew about the suppressive functions. Immunomodulating actually help the body fight things like cancer, infection or other diseases.
CBD and Autoimmune Diseases
We’ve already talked about cannabinoids ability to suppress the immune system. This is extremely helpful for many common autoimmune conditions where the immune system is hyperactive.
Lupus, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s, HIV/AIDS, and fibromyalgia are some of the well-known examples of more than 80 known autoimmune diseases. In all of these cases the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, organs or tissue.
These attacks against healthy tissue results in weakening of normal bodily functions and can be life-threatening in many cases.
The immunosuppressant properties of CBD have shown to calm down the immune system in many of these diseases, helping to leave healthy tissue as it should be.
Until recent studies started to show CBD and THC’s adaptive properties there was worry that taking these substances would leave one more susceptible to the common cold and other viruses. Instead, it appears the biological balance that the endocannabinoid system is task with maintained helps regulate the immune systems function.
CBD And Cancer
Cancer is a growing problem in today’s society. Half of all people will have developed cancer at some point in our lives.
Cancer cells have the ability to shut down the immune system and give the white blood cells that would normally attack and clean out the cells a message to protect them. This leads to cancer spreading (metastasizing) unchecking and uncontrolled.
The only approved anticancer treatment has been chemotherapy, which basically kills both cancer and healthy cells indiscriminately.
It is not surprising then that an alternate way to treat, heal, or stop the spread of cancer through CBD and THC is extremely exciting news in the medical community. How the endocannabinoid system works with the immune system to accomplish this is still very unclear though.
Researchers at Complutense University are paving the way for research to find the facts surrounding cannabinoids and cancer.
Immunotherapy for Cancer
Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment for cancer. It’s goal is to retrain white blood cells to detect and kill cancer rather than falling for its tricks as normal a normal immune system will.
There have been few studies on how cannabinoids may help or hinder immunotherapy. A study in Israel showed that cannabis had a negative effect, yet in California anecdotal reports from cancer patients report benefits from low-dose, CBD-rich oils.
CBD and Inflammation
Inflammation is thought as a negative thing in many circles, but it is actually a vital part of the immune system.
Inflammation helps to isolate damage and infected cells until they can be killed. So, we don’t want to limit it completely. This is where CBD and THC’s auto regulatory abilities seem to be able to balance the need for inflammation without letting it go unchecked.
In cases of patients recovering from strokes, CBD help by reducing the abundant inflammation in areas of the central nervous system leading to a faster recovery.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons you would want to try CBD if you are fighting an autoimmune disorder or even cancer. This doesn’t even factor in the other reasons you may want to take it!
For our recommended brands check out our page detailing the best CBD brands!