A comprehensive look at the immune system with regards to the effects of CBD and how it can help to maintain a good and healthy lifestyle.
The term, ‘immune system’ is very broad and generalises the whole group of organs and processes within the body that fights off infections. For those who wish to have good health, which is most of us, the immune system is the frontline defence against any invaders which may enter your body. However, it needs to be trained and looked after.
You could compare your immune health to an army. The army needs recruits and these recruits need effective training to carry out a task. The immune system is no different except these recruits can be your body’s white blood cells and to train them you need exposure to bacteria and germs. Once you have fought of a small amount of an invader, your body remembers how to fight them and is prepared for an even bigger attack in the future – which is the basic principle of how vaccines and the endocannabinoid system work.
Both the army and your immune system should also be able to differentiate between who their enemy is and who is an ally or friend. Your immune system does this by scanning the proteins of the surface of cells. You own body has unique proteins which it recognises as friendly, and any invaders will have an absence of these signalling proteins, so the body recognises it as foreign. When somebody suffers from an autoimmune disease (i.e. Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis/MS), it means the body has lost the ability to recognise some of the friendly cells and as a result, it is like an army attacking itself.
These troops also need to be looked after; if the troops of an army were unfit, then you would say that they aren’t a very good army. You can look after your immune system in many ways – exercising, getting enough sleep and getting vaccinated. In addition, you can eat healthily and ensure you are ingesting substances that are good for your body. One such substance which is being researched in conjunction with having positive effects for the immune system is benefits of cannabidiol or “CBD” – a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant which has lots of potential health benefits for the human body.
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To understand the effects of CBD upon the immune system, we must at least understand the body’s endocannabinoid system or ECS.
The ECS is a system of receptors within your brain, nervous system, in your organs and on the surface of your cells. Essentially, these receptors exist throughout your body and will respond in a certain way to cannabinoids that are ingested (such as THC or CBD), as well as responding to cannabinoids that are naturally produced within the body (anandamide etc).
When CBD interacts with the receptors of the ECS, it causes a physiological response within the body and causes effects associated with mood, appetite, memories and pain amongst many others.
One of the properties of CBD is that it is an ‘immunomodulator’ which means that it helps to regulate the immune system to keep it in check. If we go back to the army comparison, then you could say that CBD acts like additional intelligence when defence against an attack is needed. So, without CBD your body has the capability of amounting a defence, but with CBD, it mounts a more effective defence and therefore suffers less casualties (or symptoms from an illness). But, how does CBD work?
CBD and the Immune System
Research has shown that all cannabinoids have an effect upon the immune system. Without fully knowing the science behind why it happens, scientists have always understood that cannabis can help in reducing inflammation. If you decrease inflammation you can decrease an unwanted immune response. It has recently been linked with CBD and high-CBD strains are prescribed across Canada for this very reason.
Preventing an immune response might initially sound like a bad quality. You would think that surely you want a fully immune response to tackle any invaders. However, it has been shown that CBD doesn’t stop you from fighting off an infection, just the symptoms of you fighting an infection, such as swelling and soreness within an infected area.
It’s worth knowing that this quality of CBD is beneficial when we want to fight off small infections and should be used in the same way you would use over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), but not with infections that require the use of antibiotics. In these cases, the swelling response from the body would be like an army forming a ring around the enemy to prevent it from escaping and spreading to other parts of the base. The swelling traps harmful invaders and isolates them from entering other parts of the body.
When Else Can CBD be used to Help with an Immune Response?
We previously mentioned that an auto-immune disorder can cause the body to incorrectly recognise some of part of the body and subsequently cause an immune response when it is not needed. It’s the bodies own version of friendly fire. In these cases, you can see why it is a good thing for the immune response within the body to be damped, especially in cases where the immune response has become so strong that the swelling and soreness of the affected area becomes to much to handle for the person.
With autoimmune disorders, quite often when an immune response has gotten so out of control, it can cause chronic inflammation, which we can clearly see with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a mild histamine reaction to an allergy. For these conditions, research carried out on how CBD can prevent the incorrect immune response from incorrectly causing the patient any pain is looking very favourable.
A lot of diagnosed diseases are generally down to the mis-functioning of the immune system in one way or another. If somebody has an overactive immune system, they could have MS or arthritis. If they have an underactive immune system, they could have HIV or cancer. Diseases can cause a weakened immune system and a weakened immune system can result is diseases.
Logic would initially dictate that CBD would only help to serve conditions in which the immune response is overactive. However, research into the effect of CBD upon people with weakened immune systems suggests that it may serve to strengthen their immune system. So, if our army has less troops (is weakened), CBD appears to make these respond in a more effective way. This is the reason why we have previous defined CBD as an immune-modulator. It has the ability to regulate an immune response where the immune system is in some way compromised.
Final Thoughts on CBD for the Immune System
So, there is research out there backing the use of CBD for the immune system and there is a scientific theory behind why it is effective. However, the jury is still on the effects of CBD on an already healthy immune system. If somebody already has an army with perfect intelligence, well-trained soldiers and all the right weapons it needs to fight off an attack, then the debate is to whether they need extra help. Interestingly, it is known that consuming cannabis can slightly weaken an immune system, but this has not been shown to be true by CBD, meaning something else must be affecting it.
In addition to everything written, it is important to realise that a person who leads an unhealthy lifestyle, doesn’t eat well, get enough sleep or exercise will most likely have a weakened immune system because of this. In these cases, CBD would work to serve as a magic fix for this type of lifestyle.
Advocates of CBD realise its place within leading a healthy lifestyle. So, CBD should always be used in conjunction with a nutrient-rich diet with regular exercise and sufficient sleep because these all play a major role in controlling inflammation and the subsequent immune response.
For the best places to buy CBD in the UK we outline what our research says in a detailed article we hope you enjoy.