CBD and The Immune System
Updated: Feb 28
Lets talk about CBD and the Immune System - Some suggest that CBD has immunomodulatory properties, but what exactly does this mean? What we do know is that people with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, frequently utilize cannabis as an alternate method of treatment.
Is using cannabis, specifically CBD, useful for decreasing inflammation in the body? Is it something generally healthy individuals could also benefit from? Is there a way it could potentially boost our overall immune health?
Before jumping into CBD’s impact on the immune system, it’s important to understand how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) works.
Understanding the Endocannabinoid System
Everyone has an ECS, from humans to rabbits. Which is a cell-signaling system found throughout the body.
The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the 1990s, therefore it is still relatively new. This implies we are still discovering how it interacts with and throughout the body. However, scientists quickly determined that this complex network of receptors and cannabis-like compounds was encouraging homeostasis (balance) between the body’s many systems.
The endocannabinoid system involves a combination of endocannabinoids, enzymes, and cannabinoid receptors that help regulate several functions in the body.
Endocannabinoids are similar to phtyocannabinoids (often just called cannabinoids) which are found in cannabis. CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are examples of phytocannabinoids. Unlike phytocannabinoids endocannabinoids are made by your body, regardless of whether you’ve consumed cannabis.
The ECS includes 2 kinds of receptors known as CB1 (primarily located in the central nervous system) and CB2 (mainly found in the peripheral nervous system). When threats to your biological balance arise, signalling molecules known as endocannabinoids connect to the CB1 and CB2 activating cascades of signals that will help in the maintenance of homeostasis!
Experts are still learning about the ECS and how it works, but it seems to play a role in a number of important bodily functions, including:
Thinking and Memory
(Read more about the endocannabinoid system here)
How does CBD work?
Phytocannabinoids, like CBD, interact with your ECS, too.
When you take CBD, after the enzymes break down the cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids look to bind with receptors. Researchers believe that CBD does not directly attach itself to the receptor but works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down so that they can have a more potent effect on the body. It’s also possible that CBD may bind to a receptor that hasn’t been discovered yet!
Activating these receptors is what allows for many of the health benefits that people associate with the compound.
CBD as a general Immunity Booster
If you're in good health, stimulating your immune system is not something you should be overly concerned about. However, if you suffer from an autoimmune condition or have an overactive immune system, CBD may be a helpful option. There are lifestyle adjustments you can do to avoid weakening your immune system, including getting enough sleep and adjusting your diet, but CBD has extremely subtle effects that tend to accumulate over time. The healthier you are, the less likely you are to notice any changes; the benefits will sneak up on you over time.
CBD as an immunosuppressant
It has been suggested that CBD may have potential as an adjunct treatment for some autoimmune diseases.
An autoimmune disease is when the immune system begins to attack healthy cells, tissues, and organs. This can happen basically anywhere in the body, and it can result in particular body functions weakening and, in some cases, life threatening conditions.
The most common autoimmune diseases include Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Psoriasis.
People with autoimmune diseases often need to use immunosuppressant treatments. An immunosuppressant is something that can slow or stop an overactive immune system.
Research from 2020 and 2021 suggest that CBD has immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are important for those with autoimmune conditions, as inflammation is a common symptom of autoimmune disease.
CBD as an immunomodulator
An immunomodulator is something that can either suppress or stimulate the immune system.
Some say that CBD benefits the immune system by improving sleep and reducing the side effects of stress. Sleep deprivation and stress have been related to decreased immune system function.
While there’s quite a bit of evidence to suggest that CBD can have immunosuppressant properties, there isn't enough research to suggest that it could stimulate the immune system.
CBD enters your body, it works to inhibit Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH). FAAH is an enzyme which breaks down Anandamide during a cellular uptake process. Anandamide is commonly called the Bliss Molecule and is a main player in the areas that many CBD users seem to feel instantly or in the early stages of CBD use. Commonly: Sleep better; Mood enhanced; Anxiety reduced; Appetite normalized and General Well Being are reported. As the whole chemical process is run via enzymes (biological catalysts), research has shown that CBD by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks it down allows Anandamide to build in the system to more effective levels, which help to activate the receptors that you now know of.
We are consistently being blown away by newly discovered information which shows Cannabinoids (Endo or Phyto) huge importance for a balanced healthy body.
CBD must be used safely and with effective guidance. Interactions between Medications must be checked by your prescribing doctor.
If you are suffering from serious ailments consult your doctor before supplementing any prescription drugs for CBD!
Please contact us to learn more and see if CBD can help you live a better life.