Health claims about cannabidiol (CBD) are undoubtedly many. However, not all these alleged claims are valid and more research is required to validate them. Most individuals suggest that CBD can benefit your immune system.
The body's main defense against diseases, infections, and health matters is the immune system. Many factors affect the body both positively and negatively. For instance, inadequate sleep, poor nutrition, and inadequate physical activity. Such factors are likely to cause a drop in immune function. As a result, if you want to boost your immune system, get adequate vitamins and minerals, enough sleep, and reduce stress levels. With the current evolution of science and technology, scientists are working tirelessly to improve the state of human living, including supplements used to balance the body and enhance the immune system. Let's discuss CBD and its relation to the body's immune system.
What is CBD?
CBD is a household name as many are embracing this unique product. Burstein (2015) defined Cannabidiol (CBD) as a chemical compound extracted from cannabis. Although CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, it doesn't contain tetrahydrocannabinoid (THC), the main intoxicating component in marijuana that makes one high. Therefore, consuming a CBD product will not give you a high feeling.
How Does CBD Work?
The cannabis plant has over a hundred different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. CBD and THC are examples of these cannabinoids. All these cannabinoids affect the body by attaching themselves to certain receptors. Also, the body produces cannabinoids, referred to as endocannabinoids, and two receptors for cannabinoids called CB1 and CB2. Additionally, endocannabinoids are made by the body, despite taking cannabis.
These receptors are found in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a cell-signaling system found throughout the body. CB1 receptors are mostly present in the brain but can also be found throughout the body. CB1 receptors deal with coordination, pain, movement, emotions, mood, appetite, thinking, memories, etc. THC attaches to CB1. CB2 receptors are often present in the immune system and primarily impact pain and inflammation.
CBD does not attach to the CB2 receptors directly. Rather, CBD instructs the body to use more of its cannabinoids, thus impacting these receptors indirectly. Also, it's thought that CBD works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down so that their effect on the body can be more potent. It's also possible that CBD could bind to a receptor that's not been discovered yet. A preview of how CBD oil works were given by Lee (2011).
How Does CBD and the Immune System Interact?
Klein et al. (2001) noted that CBD enhances the human immune system. The body is vulnerable to thousands of diseases, infections, bacteria, and viruses. Without the immune system, even the common cold could be harsh. As a result, the tissues, cells, and organs that make up the body's immune system work together to wipe out foreign particles and invaders. It’s responsible for maintaining health and helping with quick recovery when sick. Furthermore, this complex system is tasked with identifying and eliminating cells that are not properly functioning. Therefore, if the immune system weren't properly working, undesirable cells would multiply in the body.
CBD as a General Immunity Booster
Khaleghi (2020) issued a guideline on CBD use. Some individuals promote CBD as a natural way to enhance the immune system, especially in the age of Covid -19, although there's no evidence for this. Usually, the immune system doesn't need boosting unless there's an underlying condition. However, there are lifestyle adjustments to initiate to avoid weakening the immune system, such as having enough sleep, proper eating habits, proper nutrition, enough exercise, etc. There's only less you can do to boost your immunity to avoid sickness.
CBD as an Immunomodulator
Furgiuele et al. (2021) outlined that CBD might help with multiple sclerosis. An immunomodulator is something that can either stimulate or suppress the immune system. Although there's little evidence to show that CBD may have immunosuppressant properties, the research on CBD is still in its early stages; thus, there's inadequate evidence to prove those claims. Some individuals claim that CBD might help with the immune system since it might help with sleep disorders and minimize stress levels and their effects. High-stress levels and poor sleep are linked to poor immune system function. This is anecdotal evidence, and more research is pending to justify these claims. If you are immunocompromised, seek professional healthcare and always talk to a health practitioner before starting a new treatment or supplement such as CBD.
CBD & Autoimmunity
Although CBD doesn't appear to strengthen the immune system, Weiss et al. (2006) explained that it may benefit those with autoimmune conditions. Some claim that the endocannabinoid system may work to inform the body of incorrect autoimmune responses, where defense cells end up attacking otherwise healthy organs and tissues of the body. An autoimmune condition is when the immune system mistakes a part of the body for a foreign threat and attacks it. This can lead to inflammation and other undesirable symptoms. Autoimmune conditions include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), etc.
Individuals with autoimmune diseases often need immunosuppressant treatments. An immunosuppressant is something that slows down an overactive immune system. According to Carrier et al. (2006), CBD has immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory properties that are important for those with autoimmune conditions since inflammation is a common symptom of autoimmune diseases.
Most studies involving CBD and immunosuppression involve animal and lab studies. Studies need to be performed on human beings to understand if CBD is a viable immunosuppressant. Research into CBD for autoimmune diseases treatment is ongoing with promising results.
CBD might provide much-needed relief if the immune system is interfered with or you want to add something to support the overall health. There are several ways of taking CBD products; however, the best way is to ingest tinctures taken sublingually when using CBD oil to boost immunity or manage the immune response. Moreover, captions are another option for ingesting CBD into the immune system. Capsules are easy to take, carry along, and are discreet. For a frequent traveler, capsules are a great option, or for anyone who doesn't like the taste of CBD oil. Although there's some evidence that CBD could function as an immunosuppressant, there's little research on whether it can aid in stimulating a weak or compromised immune system. No matter the reason for using CBD, use responsibly and consult a healthcare practitioner first.
Burstein, S. (2015). Cannabidiol (CBD) And Its Analogs: A Review Of Their Effects On Inflammation. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, 23(7), 1377-1385.
Carrier, E. J., Auchampach, J. A., & Hillard, C. J. (2006). Inhibiting An Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter By Cannabidiol: A Mechanism Of Cannabinoid Immunosuppression. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, 103(20), 7895-7900.
Furgiuele, A., Cosentino, M., Ferrari, M., & Marino, F. (2021). Immunomodulatory Potential Of Cannabidiol In Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review. Journal Of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 16(2), 251-269.
Khaleghi, M. (2020). New Arthritis Foundation Guidelines On CBD Use Could Be First Of Many More To Come. Alternative Therapies In Health And Medicine, 26, 8-11.
Klein, T. W., Newton, C. A., & Friedman, H. (2001). Cannabinoids And The Immune System. Pain Research And Management, 6(2), 95-101.
Lee, M. A. (2011). CBD: How It Works. O’Shaughnessy’s [Internet].
Weiss, L., Zeira, M., Reich, S., Har-Noy, M., Mechoulam, R., Slavin, S., & Gallily, R. (2006). Cannabidiol Lowers Incidence Of Diabetes In Non-Obese Diabetic Mice. Autoimmunity, 39(2), 143-151.
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