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Does CBD Help Boost Your Immune System?

Posted by Lewis Olden on
Does CBD Help Boost Your Immune System?

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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.


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
  • Sleep

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.

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