Cases of common colds, bugs and flu are on the rise and ways to boost the immune system are even more sought after than usual. Having a strong immune system is the base for staying healthy, and though there are a lot of products people use to aid in immune wellness, CBD is on the rise as a top choice in boosting immune health. So how can this ever-growing in popularity compound help you with health and wellness, specifically boosting your immune system?
Because of the various properties and health benefits of cannabidiol, CBD-based products have grown in popularity and become one of the hottest wellness trends in recent years. CBD is well-known for its anti-inflammatory, sleep-inducing relaxing, and stress-relieving properties, to mention a few. But what do we know about its immunomodulating properties?
In this article, you will find essential information about how CBD can provide a boost for your immune system. Aside from understanding how CBD improves your immunity, you will also learn how it maintains a healthy gut microbiota, promotes immunological response, has a calming effect reducing moderate stress, and much more. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know.
What Is the Immune System?
Our bodies have a built-in system that keeps invaders at bay. On a daily basis we are exposed to streams of diseases, infections, viruses and bacteria. Our immune systems, a network of cells, organs and tissues that work together to destroy these foreign cells or particles, keeping us healthy and alive. The heroes of our immune system are the white blood cells, which fall into two categories. There are the lymphocytes and phagocytes. Lymphocytes are also known as B or T-cells, and are responsible for destroying toxins and identifying foreign substances within the body. Phagocytes help to absorb these invaders, neutralizing and preventing further spread of toxins. Out immune system also works to eliminate dead or non-functioning cells, preventing multiplication and tumor growth.
What Is CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound derived from cannabis or hemp plants. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is the cousin to its well-known intoxicating counterpart, THC. CBD has been shown to work directly with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body, eliminating free-radicals, regulate cell functions and create a balance in the body and mind. The ECS helps establish homeostasis, regulating cell function, including the cells in your immune system. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties which can directly correlate its ability to aid in immune support.
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.
Perhaps the most feasible way in which CBD could boost our immune system is by improving other aspects of our mental and physical wellbeing. Our lifestyle is a major predictor of our immune health; mood, sleep, and diet are all things that, when out of balance, can weaken our immune system. There is solid evidence to suggest that CBD can promote a healthy lifestyle, thus indirectly providing immune support.
The impact of psychological stress on our physical health is often overlooked. Chronic stress can dysregulate our immune response, triggering a constant low-grade inflammation that makes us more susceptible to disease and can worsen symptoms of illness.
CBD has been well researched in the context of anxiety. By increasing the signaling of serotonin– the ‘happy hormone’- in the brain, it shows promise in the treatment of numerous anxiety disorders. As CBD appears to be hugely effective at managing anxiety, this can help to limit the impact of stress on the immune system.
The body operates like clockwork. Like many of our biological systems, the immune system follows a rhythmic daily cycle, called a circadian rhythm. To function optimally, our immune cells sync to our sleep-wake cycle. So, if our sleeping pattern is thrown off, we’re far more likely to get ill.
Just like stress, sleep deprivation can cause a low-level inflammatory response. This compromises our immunity, making us more vulnerable to infections and disease. So much so, that extreme shift work has been linked to higher incidences of diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
CBD is used by many as a natural sleep aid. There is preliminary evidence to suggest that CBD may be an effective treatment for insomnia, though more research is needed. But the anecdotal evidence is there; in a survey of 387 CBD users, 42.5% of participants reported that they used CBD to overcome sleeping problems. So, it’s likely that a daily dose of CBD can help us to get our 8 hours in, therefore boosting our immune system.
Much of the immune system is located in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The ECS facilitates communication between the digestive system and immune system, helping to withstand inflammation in the gut. So, when the GI tract becomes inflamed, this can have a negative impact on our immune function.
The ECS helps to maintain immune health in the gut through the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide. Also termed the ‘bliss molecule’, anandamide can work wonders for our mood. But it has also been shown to support immune function. In one animal study, oral administration of anandamide increased the number of immune cells in the gut and was protective against type 1 diabetes.
But how does this link to CBD? By inhibiting the FAAH enzyme, CBD prevents the breakdown of anandamide, subsequently increasing its levels in the body. Although this hasn’t yet been tested in the context of gut health, CBD may be able to indirectly improve immune function in the gut.
CBD also directly reduces inflammation in the GI tract. Not only does this make CBD a promising treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, but this may also help to maintain our gut health and keep our immune system functioning efficiently.
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.
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 question that many are asking is can CBD help boost your immune system and the answer is, yes! 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 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.
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.
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