CBD and the Immune System: Can Hemp Oil Boost Your Immunity?
Some suggest that CBD possesses immunomodulating properties, but what does this mean? What we do know is that individuals suffering from autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis often use cannabis as an alternative form of therapy.
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?
It’s no secret that the endocannabinoid system and the immune system are interrelated. Let’s explore some of the links between cannabidiol and immunity.
CBD For The Immune System
Before we dive deeper into the benefits of using CBD oil for the immune system, let’s get a good understanding of how our endocannabinoid system operates.
Our endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a network of receptors and cannabinoids that regulate many functions of the human body. One of the functions being its role as an “immuno-cannabinoid” modulator.
Communicative molecules in the ECS work as a signaling mechanism, which provides instructions for the immune response. These instructions provide information regarding the body’s immune system that tells it when to engage in defense, how strongly to engage, and where to engage.
Can CBD Boost Your Immune System?
Your body is exposed daily to hundreds of thousands of diseases, infections, viruses, and bacteria. If we had no immune system, even the common cold could become fatal. The cells, tissues, and organs that make up our immune system work together to eliminate foreign particles and invaders.
It’s responsible for keeping you healthy, and when you do fall ill, it helps you recover quickly if it’s working properly. This complex system is also tasked with identifying cells that are not functioning properly and eliminating them from your body. If your immune system wasn’t working, these undesirable cells could multiply.
CBD & Autoimmunity
Some suggest that the endocannabinoid system may also work to notify the body of incorrect autoimmune responses, where defense cells end up attacking otherwise healthy organs and tissues. This may be the reason why cannabinoids function so well when used for autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus.
Although cannabidiol shows promise regarding its part in helping the immune system function better, research is still speculative. We will require many more in-depth studies to have a more solid and thorough understanding of how they interact.
CBD & Inflammation
We know that cannabinoids may also be able to reduce painful inflammatory responses when taken in certain doses. This is especially true for anyone suffering from the autoimmune disorders we previously mentioned. We also know that compounds that stimulate our ECS can promote new nerve cell generation or neurogenesis. They may even be able to reduce cell degeneration. Something previously witnessed in animal studies.
If an individual were to suffer a serious traumatic event, such as a head injury, heart attack, or stroke, the lack of oxygen and the high levels of inflammation could severely damage nerve cells.
Some experts suggest that CBD could protect nerve cells and reduce neuropathic pain because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties .
The United States government holds a patent on cannabinoids for their many potential health benefits.
Symptoms of a Weakened Immune System
The following infections may recur with a high frequency. Common infections found in individuals with weak immune systems include:
- skin infections
You may also have a higher risk of experiencing the following if you have a weak immune system:
- autoimmune disorders
- inflammation of internal organs
- blood disorders and abnormalities, like anemia
- digestive problems, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping
- growth or developmental delays in infants or children
A doctor can do a blood test to identify whether or not a person has a weak immune system. The test simply shows if an individual has antibodies in the normal range.
The bottom line is that CBD may be able to help boost your immune system. Some research has revealed its anti-inflammatory properties and that it can work as an immunosuppressant and an immunomodulator.
Inflammation is one of the most important processes managed by your immune system. This response helps isolate and target areas that are infected and prevent toxic components from spreading to other areas in the body. Cannabidiol may also be able to reduce your immune system’s inflammatory response.
How Does CBD Interact with the Immune System?
Cannabinoids have some degree of an influence on our immune response. However, we still are not completely sure how to manipulate or administer treatment to achieve the best result possible yet.
What we are aware of is that cannabidiol possesses some potential when it comes to balancing the two major elements of the immune system.
CB2 reception in the ECS is usually found in your immune system. CB1 receptors can also be found in your immune system; however, there are 10-100x more CB2 receptors than CB1 receptors in the immune system. CBD has also been found to work as an immunosuppressant and immunomodulator. Immunosuppressants are agents that can suppress the immune response. They can treat lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease as well.
Immunomodulators are agents which are used to regulate or normalize your immune system. Data is also overwhelmingly in favor of the notion that cannabidiol is an immune system regulator .
Immunosuppressants suppress the body’s immune system and ability to fight infections and other diseases. Immunosuppression may be deliberately induced in preparation for bone marrow or other organ transplants to ensure the prevention of rejection of the donor tissue.
Cannabidiol has also been shown to help modulate or suppress the secretion and functioning of cytokines .
These large groups of proteins are secreted in our body’s immune system. It helps regulate inflammation, immunity, and also the production of white blood cells. This allows your immune system to work smarter and keep you happy and healthy.
CBD can also effectively suppress chemokine production .
A chemokine is a group of cytokines that act as a chemoattractant, which works by inducing an organism or cell to migrate towards it. Chemokines are used to lead immune cells to an infected area; this way, white blood cells can destroy microbes that are invading the infected area.
CBD can suppress T-Cell function and production in addition to chemokines. This encourages suppression of the immune system’s ability to remember invaders.
CBD vs. Autoimmune Disease
Cannabidiol may have potential as a treatment for some autoimmune diseases. When it comes to autoimmune diseases, immunity becomes overactive and will begin attacking and trying to destroy healthy tissues, organs, and cells.
This can occur virtually anywhere in the body and may result in particular body functions weakening or failing, and sometimes in life-threatening conditions.
Three of the most common autoimmune diseases include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic skin conditions like psoriasis. Other autoimmune conditions include endometriosis (disorder in the womb’s lining), lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes.
Many users with these conditions have found success in using CBD. Inflammation plays a key role in autoimmune diseases, and as a potential anti-inflammatory, cannabidiol might be able to help your body manage the symptoms of the disease.
CBD’s immunosuppressive nature may also be able to help those with hyperactive immune systems that attack themselves instead of functioning properly.
Final Thoughts on CBD & the Immune System
If you have a compromised immune system or simply want to add something that will support your overall health, CBD could provide some much-needed relief.
When it comes to using CBD oil for boosting immunity or managing the immune response, the best method of ingestion is tinctures, taken sublingually.
Capsules are another option for using CBD for your immune system, as they are easy to take, bring with you, and they are discrete. This is great for anyone who travels a lot or who doesn’t want to taste the flavor of the oil.
If you currently have any serious health conditions or are taking certain medications, you should always speak to your doctor or physician first. You are also encouraged to do your research on the use, dosage, and different methods of ingestion.
- Ewa Kozela, Ana Juknat, Nathali Kaushansky, Neta Rimmerman, Avraham Ben-Nun, Zvi Vogel. Cannabinoids Decrease the Th17 Inflammatory Autoimmune Phenotype . Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology , 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s11481-013-9493-1 
- Katz, D., Katz, I., Porat‐Katz, B. S., & Shoenfeld, Y. (2017). Medical cannabis: Another piece in the mosaic of autoimmunity?. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 101(2), 230-238.
- Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem . 2009;1(7):1333-1349. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93 
- Nichols, J. M., & Kaplan, B. L. (2020). Immune responses are regulated by cannabidiol. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 5(1), 12-31. 
- Tong-Rong Jan, Shu-Ting Su, Hsin-Ying Wu, Mei-Hsiu Liao, Suppressive effects of cannabidiol on antigen-specific antibody production and functional activity of splenocytes in ovalbumin-sensitized BALB/c mice, International Immunopharmacology, Volume 7, Issue 6, 2007, Pages 773-780, ISSN 1567-5769,
- Hongbo Li, Weimin Kong, Christina R. Chambers, Daohai Yu, Doina Ganea, Ronald F. Tuma, Sara Jane Ward, The non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) attenuates pro-inflammatory mediators, T cell infiltration, and thermal sensitivity following spinal cord injury in mice, Cellular Immunology, Volume 329, 2018, Pages 1-9, ISSN 0008-8749
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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Does CBD Help Boost Your Immune System?
There has been research that has demonstrated that cannabinoids such as CBD can interfere with the release of cytokine, which are the proteins involved in causing inflammation in people with chronic illnesses. There is a suggestion that CBD may play an important role in managing how the body operates when dealing with autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Autoimmune diseases are characterised by an immune system exaggerating the reaction to non-threatening internal events which results in the immune system attacking healthy cells in the body.
New data that was published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2020 supports the idea that CBD is an immunosuppressive, meaning it helps to suppress the immune response. Cannabis is known to be immune modulating, meaning that Cannabis can regulate an over or under reacting immune system back into balance. However, there is still a tremendous amount of research that needs to be done to understand the difference between CBD’s immune boosting and immune modulating characteristics. More expansive studies need to be undertaken to gain a definitive understanding of the full impact CBD has on the immune system.
The Science Behind CBD Strengthening the Immune System
CBD has numerous anti-inflammatory effects on the central nervous system that enable it to have therapeutic effects.
Typical medications that are prescribed to treat autoimmune conditions are immunosuppressive and synthetically created. These medicines shut down the overactive immune system which leaves the individual using the medicine more susceptible to infections, colds, flus and other illnesses. There is evidence that suggests that CBD can manage autoimmune conditions by supressing specific parts of the immune system. However, there is also compelling evidence that CBD can have the opposite effect. CBD oil can bolster a weakened immune system so that it can adequately defend the body and prevent infection.
Research assessing CBD’s effect on cancer patients whose immune system is severely compromised suggested that patients are in a better state to fight cancer when using CBD. An example of this is the study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology that found that CBD may be effective in reducing tumour growth in certain cancers. Another study found that cannabinoids in high doses prompted the body and immune system to kill cancer cells through a biological process called apoptosis. Apoptosis is activated in a healthy immune system when infectious cells as detected. This study’s discoveries are extremely significant considering cancer cells are characterised by their capability to avoid apoptosis, this then enables them to proliferate throughout not only the immune system but the entire body.
The precise nature in which cannabinoids elicit the reaction to kill cancer cells is still being researched. There is still a tremendous amount of studies and research that needs to take place to garner a stronger understanding of how this process happens and how it can be optimised for humanity’s benefit. Being aware that CBD oil could be able to inhibit potentially lethal cancerous cells when the immune system is unable to inhibit the cancerous cells is extremely encouraging and could be the precipice of new revolutionary medicines.
CBD’s capacity to act as an immunosuppressor means that it can have a beneficial therapeutic effect when the immune system is weakened or becomes hyperactive. There are indications that the mechanisms of how CBD interacts with the immune system involve the direct suppression of the activation of numerous immune cell types, the induction of apoptosis and promotion of regulatory cells. These actions therefore control immune cell targets.
Cannabis and its derivatives are known to be immune modulating meaning that it can regulate over and under reacting immune systems back into balance.
How CBD Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System to Strengthen your Immune System
CBD helps to boost immunity by working in conjunction with the endocannabinoid system works. The therapeutic effects of CBD come to fruition via their interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system and the specific cannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoid system is integral to the body’s physiologies and regulates a variety of bodily functions. These functions include pain, immune response, sleep, mood, memory, anxiety and appetite. The interaction with cannabinoid receptors enables anandamide to function. Anandamide is responsible for regulating appetite and stress responses in the body.
CB1 and CB2 receptors are located in particular areas of the human anatomy, each type of receptor has a particular role to play in the healthy endocannabinoid system. CBD receptors are located in the brain and central nervous system. The CB1 receptors are crucial in the functioning of motor regulation, memory processing, pain and sleep. The activation of CB1 receptors has been related to neuroprotective responses. The activity suggests that the cannabinoids with a high affinity for CB1 receptors could help in the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
CB2 receptors are primarily situated on cells in the immune system. Once a CB2 receptor is triggered, it stimulates a response that fights inflammation and minimises damage to body tissues. This anti-inflammatory reaction can be useful for treating inflammation related conditions like arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
CBD interacts with other receptors in the body such as 5-HT1A which is related to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter found to be a contributor to feelings of well-being. It is through this interaction that healing and balance is promoted by the cannabinoids.
CBD and inflammation
Inflammation, besides its negative aspects, is vital for the immune system to inhibit infections. Inflammation is the immune response required to stop the diseases from spreading by isolating the damaged and infected cells. Therefore, inflammation is needed to fight certain diseases in the body and preventing it can weaken the immune system. However, CBD can also be used to maintain a balance between the functions of the immune system.
CBD and cancer
A weakened immune system leads to cancer, and CBD is also able to fight cancer by strengthening the immune system. One of the functions of the immune system is to tell the unhealthy and aged cells about their time to self-destruct. As with cancer, the damaged cells forget their ability to self-regulate and the disease spread quickly in the body due to the proliferation of the cells. Animal and laboratory studies show that CBD help in the self-destruction of the damaged cells, which lead to apoptosis, and eventually a reduction of the tumour growth. Metastasis was also a result of the mice study that reduced the spreading of cancerous cells. Thus, the immune system is strengthened and it also reduces nausea, vomiting and various conditions caused by chemotherapy in the cancer patients.
CBD and HIV/AIDS
The dysfunction of the immune system and it not performing optimally is one of the causes of HIV/AIDS. HIV compromises the immune system, due to which the body leaves its ability to fight the virus. As CBD has the ability to make the immune system perform better, it tends to be a good option in relieving HIV symptoms. A study conducted in 2015 found that the patients who consumed CBD had less viral loads and a more CD4 immune cell which fights against HIV as compared to regular patients. Another previous study of 2003 revealed that the through the use of CBD the T-cell count can be increased, t-cells are used to destroy harmful pathogens and are integral need of the immune system. Moreover, recent studies show that CBD may also be helpful in inhibiting the progression of HIV into AIDS by inhibiting the function of plasmacytoid dendritic cells.
CBD and neuroinflammatory conditions
The immune system also has a major role in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative conditions like strokes, head injuries and cerebral ischemia which is a condition in which there is an insufficient flow of blood to the brain. CBD has been used to provide both neurogenesis as well as neurodegeneration which leads to the promotion of new and degeneration of nervous tissues of the brain. The research that concluded these findings was however conducted on animals, more evidence is needed in order to prove the significant effects.
Possible Cons/Side Effects of CBD
Many of the studies that have been undertaken concerning CBD are too limited to ascertain whether CBD is definitively an effective treatment except in cases like Epidiolex which has been approved by NICE and is available on prescription.
Like almost any natural compound there is a small risk of potential side effects when using CBD. The Mayo Clinic believe that the possible side effects of CBD include dry mouth, fatigue and reduced appetite.
If you suffer from a disease and/or are on prescription medication It is always advisable to speak to your doctor before using CBD in combination with prescription medication.
CBD Dosages for Immunity
Several studies have been undertaken into the affect CBD has on humans suffering from autoimmune diseases. However, there has been no resulting guidance from these studies to suggest a specific dose recommended for a particular disorder linked to the immune system.
One of the very few examples of there being definitive dosage guidance pertains to the drug Epidiolex for epilepsy in children. The doses can be as high as 20mg/kg but doses as high as 300mg/kg have been evaluated and have not exhibited significant adverse effects. Autoimmune conditions are often the potential cause of seizures.
Why a Strong Immune System is Important during the Coronavirus Pandemic
The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought immunity to the forefront of many people’s minds. The elderly with chronic conditions especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and lung diseases are far more likely to suffer a severe health problem or even die from COVID-19. Those whose immune systems are compromised because of a condition or treatment that weakens their immune system are also at a higher risk if infected by the virus.
How to keep the Immune System Strong
Living a healthy lifestyle and consuming a balanced diet are great ways to ensure your immune system is strong. The immune system works best when it is not subject to environmental factors and way to boost your immune system are;
- Regular Exercise
- Nutritious diet, lots of fruit & veg
- Supplements with multivitamins
- Don’t smoke cigarettes
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce stress
- Don’t drink too much alcohol
Final thoughts on CBD and the Immune System
While immune disorders are not preventable, there are numerous ways to help the immune system function as effectively as possible. This is done by protecting it from environmental factors that cause damage and strengthening the immune system by living healthily. Studies suggest that CBD may help to boost immunity and help protect the immune system through its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. Cannabinoid treatments may help decrease inflammation, modulate the immune system and regulate the immune system.
Never forget, if you take prescription medicine or suffer from a condition, always ask your doctor about taking CBD oil or any other Cannabis derivative.
Sick Day Essentials: Hemp Oil Benefits for Immune System Support
Within a few weeks the United States went from a handful of coronavirus cases to over 600. The worldwide epidemic has prompted people to be more mindful of their health and interactions with others. A stronger immune system can give you peace of mind during these troubled times, and natural supplements for sickness are a great way to boost your body’s defense. But what exactly can hemp oil do for you during sick days at home?
It would be silly for us to assume CBD could combat COVID-19 ( or any other virus for that matter). The fact is there isn’t enough research on the novel coronavirus or preventative medications.
Hemp cannabinoids might not provide a foolproof solution to thwarting sickness, but studies speculate hemp plant extracts like CBD oil can help strengthen the immune system and suppress flu-like symptoms.
Research shows cannabinoids might be immunosuppressant and have the ability to increase white blood cells, which are responsible for protecting the body against infections. Other immunomodulating agents include antibodies and vaccines.
CBD interacts with the production of interleukins (glycoproteins in the immune system) when the body is struggling with cold symptoms. CBD is not a direct treatment to sickness, but it can maintain your body’s natural resilience.
Dr. Melamede from the University of Colorado theorized that cannabis could strengthen the immune system and reduce the number of swine flu deaths back in a 2009 statement when H1N1 affected hundreds and thousands worldwide. Whether his speculations were true or not, daily CBD doses can get you on the right track toward bettering your health and wellness.
We know hemp interacts with the immune system at a molecular level, it’s just a question to what extent and how effective is hemp in preventing illnesses?
What we do know is CBD has shown to be just about anti-everything. The cannabinoid’s properties include anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, analgesic, and antiemetic (prevents nausea and vomiting).
Such properties can reduce discomfort provoked by flu-like feelings and aches. Ultimately, don’t think of these CBD benefits as cures, but ways to mitigate cold symptoms. Hemp oil for colds can relax the body and promote sleep. And rest is one of the best ways to stimulate recovery during an illness.
There are theories that CBD can help assist autoimmune disease symptoms like rheumatoid arthritis. In a similar fashion, cannabinoids can assist the immune response to lessen stress, inflammation, and overwork in the system.
Hemp Products to Use When Sick:
- We recommend a full spectrum hemp oil to promote balance in the immune system. You can use the CBD oil throughout the day and before bed to maintain better rest.
Hemp Products to Avoid When Sick:
- Sugary CBD edibles like gummy bears will increase inflammation due to the sugar intake. If you take edibles while sick, make sure they are sugar-free.
- Vaporizers or smokable hemp flower could further inflame the lungs if you are already sensitive from coughing or mucus buildup. These products should only be used when your throat isn’t sore.
Before using CBD products, consult your doctor. If you are taking medications to treat a cold or virus infection, cannabinoids might hinder the drug’s effects. If your doctor prescribes a pharmaceutical drug, double check to make sure hemp is still safe to consume.
Not all doctors are familiar with hemp cannabinoids like CBD. If they are unsure whether or not CBD would inhibit a specific prescription, ask them if grapefruit should be avoided while taking the medication. Grapefruit and hemp tend to have the same interactions with drugs.
As always, the best thing to do to prevent catching the flu or a virus is to consistently wash your hands, avoid contact with others, and don’t share drinks or food. Your body can benefit from a daily hemp oil dosage, but it shouldn’t be your only line of defense in supporting your health and wellness.