Is CBD Good for the Immune System?
These days, with a world health crisis on our hands our immune system health tends to be more front of mind than usual.
Keeping your immune system fighting fit is important to maintaining your health and quality of life, and CBD may be able to help.
We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the immune-boosting qualities of CBD.
The importance of a healthy immune system
Without an immune system, we’d all be in trouble. Your immune system is essentially how your body defends itself from foreign bodies like pathogens, bacteria, and viruses that can cause you harm. Your immune system helps to keep you healthy, which is why you have to keep your immune system properly functioning.
So what exactly makes up an immune system? Your immune system is a complex network of proteins, cells, and compounds that help to identify immune dangers and destroy them. Your immune system is so smart that it can recognise an organism it has seen before, helping it to destroy the foreign invader.
What happens if you don’t have an immune system?
If you didn’t have an immune system, you would be vulnerable to any dangerous microbe, virus or bacteria that entered your body. This would leave you vulnerable to illness and infection and could be particularly dangerous.
Knowing the power and importance of the immune system, it’s scary to know that some people go through life with a weakened immune system. Certain diseases, like HIV, or cancer treatments can result in patients having a weakened immune system, leaving them immunocompromised, more vulnerable to infection, and less prepared to be able to fight off any infection. Immunocompromised patients often experience much more severe symptoms than someone with a fully functioning immune system would.
The endocannabinoid system and immune function
Because of CBD’s role within your endocannabinoid system, it has an important part to play in boosting your immune system.
CBD is a cannabinoid, which means that it is an active chemical compound that naturally occurs in cannabis and hemp plants. When ingested, some of CBD’s effects on the body are facilitated by your endocannabinoid system. We all have endocannabinoid systems, regardless of whether you consume cannabis compounds or not. Your endocannabinoid system is a complex cell-signalling network that helps to regulate many important processes in your body.
One of these processes is your immune system. Your endocannabinoid system is able to signal to and impact your immune system. Research indicates that endocannabinoids may be able to control immune functions and play an important role in immune homeostasis. This means that CBD could boost immune functioning through its expression via the endocannabinoid system.
The role CBD can play in your immune system
One way that you may be able to boost your immune system and improve your defences is through CBD. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is an active cannabis compound. This tiny plant compound has demonstrated a range of health benefits, and it may be able to help keep your immune system functioning properly, but in a way that you may not expect.
One way that your immune system can misfire, apart from functioning weakly, is to attack the wrong cells in your body. When this happens it is known as an autoimmune response. Instead of identifying and destroying dangerous pathogens and invaders, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body. This can lead to a range of symptoms and conditions that can be especially hard to treat.
CBD holds immunosuppressive qualities, which means that it may be able to help keep an autoimmune response in check and stop your immune system from attacking your healthy cells.
CBD the immunosuppressant
It may seem counterintuitive, but one way that CBD may be able to improve your immune system’s functioning is actually by suppressing it. Suppressing your immune system CBD could help to reduce the symptoms of autoimmune conditions.
Early evidence supports the conclusion that CBD has immunosuppressive properties and that it can stop a misfiring immune response from occurring.
So what can happen if you have an autoimmune disease? For those with an autoimmune disease, their bodies have essentially turned against them, attacking healthy cells instead of viruses or bacteria that they should be focusing on. Autoimmune conditions include psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes. Autoimmune diseases can be debilitating and hard to treat. But the good news is that CBD could treat autoimmune diseases.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects
Apart from acting directly on immune responses, CBD may also be able to help reduce the negative symptoms of an immune response. CBD has shown particular promise as an anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is a normal process in your immune system, as it helps you to protect your body from infection and disease. But when inflammation goes awry, it can lead to pain, reduced range of motion, and swelling.
Inflammation is also a common condition of autoimmune disorders, and by reducing inflammation, CBD may be able to help ease the symptoms of an immune system gone rogue.
There are many autoimmune conditions that have shown to benefit from CBD treatment, specifically due to CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities. These conditions include:
- Type 1 Diabetes: Pancreatic inflammation can be caused by an autoimmune response in diabetic patients. One study found that CBD reduced this type of pancreatic inflammation in mice with type 1 diabetes.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: One review published in 2019 found that CBD induced significant anti-inflammatory effects in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Multiple Sclerosis: One animal study found that CBD inhibited T-cell release, which indicates that CBD is able to reduce the inflammatory attack that occurs in multiple sclerosis. CBD also reduced the expression of specific markers of inflammation.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: CBD has also been found to reduce inflammation in the colon of humans, which could have positive implications for the management of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Psoriasis: A 2019 study found that topical CBD significantly improved the skin condition of patients with psoriasis, with this improvement largely occurring through CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects.
The bottom line
CBD’s ability to boost your immune system may occur in a slightly different way than you would expect. CBD has been found to suppress the immune system, which holds many benefits for those suffering from autoimmune conditions like psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis.
More research is needed to fully understand what effect CBD might have on the immune system, but for now, the research is especially positive for those suffering from an autoimmune disorder.