Does CBD Help The Immune System?


 | Last revised

Oct, 2022

One of the amazing benefits of CBD is that it boasts immunomodulatory effects, which means it can either suppress or stimulate the immune system, so it remains in a state of homeostasis.

While the research is still limited, scientists are beginning to learn more about how this potent cannabinoid can impact our bodies, including the immune system.

In this article, we will take a look at the connections between CBD and the immune system and how it may play a part in the fight against autoimmune conditions.

Let’s find out what experts have discovered.

CBD And The Immune System

Interactions between CBD oil and the immune system are complicated.

CBD does not interact directly with your immune system. Instead, cannabinoids like CBD interact with a signalling system in your body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

In this system, endocannabinoids (cannabinoids created by your body) bind to cannabinoid receptors. The binding of cannabinoids to these receptors sends signals to various parts of your body, regulating the function of numerous bodily functions.

The cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, such as CBD, are called phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids that come from plants). Like endocannabinoids, these also interact with the ECS in various ways, such as affecting endocannabinoids or binding to cannabinoid receptors.

This can stimulate the production or uptake of hormones that support immune health.

For example, TRPV2 is a protein that plays an important role in communication between cells to coordinate immune system signalling. CBD seems to increase the activity of TRPV2 receptors, which could make it more effective at enabling immune system communication. [1]

Cannabinoid Effects On The Immune System

Some cannabinoids, like THC, bind directly to cannabinoid receptors in the same way that endocannabinoids do.

CBD does not seem to do this, however. It is theorised that CBD helps to prevent endocannabinoids from being broken down by enzymes, keeping them in your system for longer.

The functions that the endocannabinoid system is involved in are not fully known yet. However, it has been connected to a wide range of functions, including:

  • Mood
  • Digestion
  • Thinking
  • Memory
  • Sleep
  • Reproduction

Some of these can impact the function of your immune system and the symptoms of autoimmune disorders.

The full extent of the connections between the endocannabinoid system and the immune system needs much more research to be fully understood.

The words immune system are circled in blue marker. A hand writing other words around it.

Does CBD Boost The Immune System?

CBD does not directly stimulate the function of your immune system. However, CBD and the immune system may have some indirect connections.

CBD offers several health benefits that can reduce the amount of work your immune system has to do.

For example, CBD can help you to get better sleep. Poor sleeping habits can weaken your immune system through inadequate rest.

It can also help reduce stress and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Stress and inflammation can both create extra work for your immune system. [2][3]

CBD Supports White Blood Cell Activity

Natural killer cells are white blood cells that play an important role in helping your body fight off a viral infection.

Natural killer cells have the ability to identify and destroy virus-infected cells and may also help to inhibit the development of tumourous cells.

As a result of this effect, studies have shown that CBD can help the body slow down the replication of viral cells such as those caused by the hepatitis C virus. [4]

CBD Is An Anti-Inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are one of its most well-known properties.

Inflammation is an immune system response. Normally, your immune system sends inflammatory immune system cells to heal the affected area and attack foreign substances such as bacteria.

However, you can also suffer from chronic inflammation, which is caused by the inflammatory response happening when it is not needed.

This can cause damage to your body as your immune system attacks parts of your own body and wears out your immune system leaving it less able to respond to real threats.

CBD can help your immune system by reducing the inflammation caused by various inflammatory conditions. [5]

CBD Helps Maintain A Healthy Gut

CBD may help maintain healthy gut bacteria.

Besides reducing inflammation, a common symptom of poor gut health, studies suggest that CBD can regulate gut bacteria, reduce gut permeability, and tackle overall inflammation.

For example, one study found that combining CBD and THC can result in much higher levels of short-chain fatty acids, which help support a healthy gut biome and prevent an imbalance of gut bacteria. [6]

CBD Helps Reduce Stress

Chronic stress is caused by an abundance of cortisol in your system. Besides causing you to feel on edge or anxious, cortisol suppresses the immune system by reducing the number of lymphocytes in your bloodstream. [7]

This is why we are more likely to get ill when we are going through a stressful period.

Furthermore, stress can cause us to make unhealthier choices, such as drinking or smoking more or eating unhealthy foods.

CBD stimulates our serotonin receptors, which play a role in making us feel more calm and more content.

As a result, it is used to help manage a range of stress and anxiety-related health conditions, potentially reducing their negative effects on your immune system health. [8]

Chronic stress and situational anxiety are often experienced in high-stress environments such as the workplace, many people are reducing stress by consuming CBD prior to or at work. This also applies to other environments or situations that can cause an increase in stress hormones.

Is CBD An Immune System Suppressant?

a doctor is holding a card with Immune system written on it

People who have autoimmune diseases often need to suppress their immune systems.

An autoimmune disorder means that your immune system incorrectly identifies part of your body as a foreign threat that needs to be destroyed and removed from the body.

This causes inflammation and numerous other symptoms and health conditions depending on the part of your body that your immune system is targetting.

People with autoimmune diseases often take immunosuppressant drugs to prevent or manage these problems. These inhibit the function of your immune system, so it cannot attack your body effectively.

There is some research suggesting that CBD could have immunosuppressant properties.

However, these studies were conducted on animals, not humans. We don’t know if these effects are also present in humans or how effective they are. [9]

CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory, so it may be useful for treating inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases. [10]

CBD And Immune System Suppressing Drugs

CBD has interactions with a number of medications, including some immunosuppressant drugs.

This is because CBD interferes with a group of enzymes that are used to metabolise many different drugs, including immunosuppressants. [11]

If you take CBD while also taking one of these drugs, your medication may become less effective or build up to unsafe levels in your body.

Because of these concerns, you should always discuss your medications with a doctor before taking CBD if you have been prescribed immunosuppressants.

Additionally, always check your medication for a grapefruit warning.

Many medications have a warning not to eat grapefruit on the label. This is because grapefruit also engages the same group of enzymes. As a result, if grapefruit poses a danger of interfering with your medication, it is possible that CBD will do so as well.

CBD Oil: Immune System Booster?

While CBD has some health benefits that might help your immune system, CBD alone is not a solution to a weak immune system. However, it can certainly help to keep your body in a condition that better supports your immune system.

Furthermore, its effects could help to manage some symptoms of autoimmune diseases. People who take immunosuppressants should take care and discuss CBD with their doctor first, as it may be disruptive to some immunosuppressant drugs.

Always consult a doctor before adding CBD oil to your routine, especially if you have prescribed medications.

Finding CBD from Mullumbimby to Melbourne can be done online through the green market, but always ensure you do your research and vet the company and product before purchasing.

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1. Ruth A Pumroy et al., "Molecular mechanism of TRPV2 channel modulation by cannabidiol".
eLife Sciences.
2. Jessica Capruscio, "What to know about CBD or sleep".
Medical News Today.
3. Alan Carter, "Using CBD Oil for Anxiety".
4. Henry I C Lowe et al., "Potential of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Viral Hepatitis".
National Library of Medicine.
5. Veronica Zambon, "What to know about CBD for inflammation".
Medical News Today.
6. Zinah Zamil Al-Ghezi et al., "Combination of cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), mitigates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) by altering the gut microbiome ".
National Library of Medicine.
7. Dr Saul McLeod, "Stress, Illness, and the Immune System ".
Simply Psychology.
8. Kimberly Holland, " How to Try CBD for Depression".
9. Xandy Melissa Rodriguez Mesa, "Therapeutic Prospects of Cannabinoids in the Immunomodulation of Prevalent Autoimmune Diseases ".
National Library of Medicine.
10. Sinemyiz Atalay et al., "Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol".
National Library of Medicine.
11. Jennifer Chesak, "CBD and Drug Interactions: What You Need To Know".


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