CBD For Immune System Health
Scientists confirm: cannabinoids like CBD have the potential to keep our immune systems running smoother than ever before. It all has to do with immune cells. According to researchers at the Journal of Neuroimmunology, "Immune cells express both CB1 and CB2 receptors, secrete endocannabinoids and have functional cannabinoid transport and breakdown mechanisms, and are thought to play a role in immune homeostasis and control."
There's a lot to unpack here. For starters, endocannabinoids are similar to cannabinoids, but they are produced internally within your body. Furthermore, CB1 and CB2 receptors are what we call endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors "activate" CBD's effects once inside your system. Other cannabinoids (THC, CBG, CBN, and beyond) have shown receptor-binding at these sites, especially CB1 receptors. However, the mechanisms through which CBD interacts with these receptors are still unknown.
What we do know is this, from the same researchers at the Journal of Neuroimmunology :
"The presence of cannabinoid receptors on cells of the immune system and anecdotal and historical evidence suggesting that cannabis use has potent immuno-modulatory effects, has led to research directed at understanding the function and role of these receptors within the content of immunological cellular function."
In short, we still have a lot to learn about CBD for immune system health.
But such limitations haven't stopped researchers and scientists alike, all keen to prove the beneficial effects of cannabinoids on the immune system. Who can blame them, with COVID-19 and flu season continuing to weaken immune systems worldwide? Plus, the science of cannabis keeps getting better and better!
How Does the Immune System Work?
Before we can understand how cannabinoids influence the immune system, we must first learn how the immune system operates. It is divided into two key parts:
- The Innate Immune System includes the skin, corneas, and mucous membranes—things you're born with. When this system recognizes a foreign invader (e.g., bacteria), it automatically surrounds and smothers the invader.
- The Acquired Immune System creates antibodies (special proteins) to protect against specific invaders. After the first exposure, your body will recognize and defend against an invader. The acquired immune system changes as your exposure to different invaders changes.
These joint immune systems work together to protect your body from disease, illness, and other ailments, a process known as "immunity." We can draw many comparisons between immunity and homeostasis, defined as the tendency for the body to strive for physiological equilibrium, a state of balance. In homeostasis, the body is running at peak performance. This allows the immune system to function at peak performance levels.
As CBD users may already know, homeostasis is a key factor in cannabinoid treatment efforts. This is likely one of the many ways CBD influences immune system health. But as we said above, it also has a lot to do with immune cells.
Immune cells transport information around the body. Notably, they send signals to the brain. Pretend you work in an office building and a water pipe breaks near your desk. You send an email to your boss letting him know he needs to send maintenance right away. In this scenario:
- The broken water pipe represents an area of the body in need, whether from pain, inflammation, or something else.
- The boss represents the brain, capable of sending help to the area of the body in need.
- The email you sent detailing the damage represents immune cells, who let the brain know about the damage and what is needed to fix the situation.
And because CBD promotes homeostasis within the immune system, it further expands the signaling efforts seen here. It's the text you sent directly to maintenance, speeding up the entire recovery process.
Cannabinoid Receptors and the Immune System
According to a systematic review by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, "CB1 receptor expression is localized to a number of functional structures in the brain which are associated with important neurological processes."
We mentioned cannabinoids like CBD could increase brain signaling, activating CB1 and CB2 receptors in various ways. But in addition, there exists a large concentration of cannabinoid receptors in your central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is responsible for a variety of bodily functions. It interprets our thoughts, senses, perceptions, and beyond.
Because CBD and other cannabinoids influence CNS signaling, there is "rationale for the use of cannabinoids as therapeutic agents for a number of neurological disorders," according to researchers.
Cannabinoids Modulate Cytokines
Cytokines are loosely defined as a category of small proteins vital to cell functionality. Cannabinoids can adjust the secretion and control of cytokines from immune cells. These cytokinetic immune cells again transform into white blood cells, traveling all over the body to carry out their signaling efforts. This is yet another reason cannabinoids may be considered for use against inflammatory diseases, according to the Journal of Neuroimmunology.
The Role of Endocannabinoids in Immune Health
Remember when we said there exists a concentration of endocannabinoid receptors within the central nervous system? This concentration is just one aspect of your endocannabinoid system. The entire endocannabinoid system includes CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as endocannabinoids produced internally within the body.
Cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and CBN derive from cannabis plants, a classification which includes both hemp and marijuana plants. However, your body actually creates its own version of cannabinoids. These endocannabinoids do not require CBD oil or other products to form internally. However, CBD products have shown to increase endocannabinoid production, boosting the functionality of the endocannabinoid system.
When taking CBD for immune system health, this process is fundamental to our understanding of CBD's benefits. And because the endocannabinoid system is heavily linked to the CNS, endocannabinoids are likely responsible for things like:
- Memory and learning
- Neuroendocrine secretion (e.g., hormone regulation)
- Emesis (body's ability to purge, vomit, etc.)
- Body temperature regulation
- Immune system modulation
As you can tell, many of these physiological functions have direct ties to the immune system. A high appetite may stimulate caloric intake, increasing your body's energy levels and boosting immune response. Regulating body temperature is vital to immune health as it keeps your body in its most operational temperature range.
However, despite our scientific understanding of CBD for immune system health, "the specific role of endocannabinoids in the development and function of the immune system is still unclear," according to the Journal of Neuroimmunology. But we are making progress toward expansive, comprehensive cannabinoid-immune system data!
Specific Applications of CBD For Immune System Health
Like never before, scientists are recommending CBD and other cannabinoids for health-related treatment plans. If you didn't already know, there is one prescription medication in the USA containing CBD: Epidiolex. It is prescribed to patients with rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy, notably Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Other countries have also legalized a 1:1 CBD:THC medication called Sativex, but this medication is currently unavailable in the USA.
Scientists argue, because of the immune-boosting effects of cannabinoids, we should make cannabinoid treatments available to patients with:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurodegenerative autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that afflicts nearly 2.5 million people worldwide.
- Autoimmune hepatitis, a chronic liver disease with no known cause or cure that impacts about 24 in every 1000 people.
- Autoimmune myocarditis, an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of the heart and may be caused by viral infections.
- Autoimmune diabetes (T1D), an organ-specific autoimmune disease that affects nearly 1.6 million Americans alone.
Best CBD Products For Immune System Health
Scientists have pondered the immune health benefits of CBD for decades, but the CBD industry has already made great leaps into the immune health marketplace. In fact, many CBD products are designed with immune-boosting benefits in mind. They contain a variety of proven supplemental infusions, including elderberry, various vitamins, and essential minerals.
What are some of our favorite immune-boosting products at CBD Choice?
Multivitamin CBD Gummies for Men and Women
CBDfx has always pushed the envelope for cannabinoid creativity. Their Multivitamin CBD Gummies For Men and For Women offer curated natural ingredients that cater to the complex needs of both men and women, specifically.
Expect 25mg of CBD per serving. In addition, these CBDfx gummies are 100% THC-free, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free.
Multivitamin Gummies For Men contain infusions of vitamins A, C, D3, E, B6, and B12. They also contain zinc, folic acid, selenium, and beyond—ingredients known to boost overall immune health and increase your body's immune response.
Multivitamin Gummies For Women contain the same vitamins as their male counterparts but include calcium and phosphorus infusions. Calcium is vital to the cell signaling process and is known to boost immune system functionality. Phosphorus, another essential mineral, helps the body fight off pathogens and supports immune functions.
Immune Support + CBD Wellness Gummies
Medterra, an industry leader, crafted Immune Boost Gummies to carry a potent combination of CBD, elderberry, vitamin C, and zinc. In addition to CBD's immune health properties…
- Elderberry is chock full of antioxidants, able to lessen stress, strengthen the heart and other vital organs, and even reduce cold and flu-related symptoms.
- Vitamin C supports various functions within both the innate and acquired immune systems, as mentioned earlier.
- Zinc is important in the wound healing process and is known to carry out vast roles throughout the immune system.
This triple-threat, immune-boosting combo works together with 25mg CBD to improve the functionality of your immune system. Medterra also created Immune Support Gummies with Broad Spectrum hemp extract, known to improve homeostasis benefits.
What's Left to Learn About CBD For Immune System Health?
As we mentioned earlier, there is still much to learn about CBD for immune system health. However, researchers at Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research created an immune system to-do list for the scientific study of cannabis. Here's what they recommend for the future of cannabinoids like CBD for immune health.
Receptor Identification: We know CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, some theorize CBD actually binds to a currently undiscovered endocannabinoid receptor. We must learn more about the interaction between CBD molecules and immune cells to better understand the health implications of CBD treatment plans.
Cannabinoid Combinations: Sativex (1:1 CBD:THC) has proven successful in clinical trials, where legal. However, Epidiolex (CBD) is the only legal cannabinoid-containing medication in the United States. Researchers urge increased study of combined cannabinoid preparations. Remember: there are over 100 known cannabinoids, many with undiscovered or underfunded potential!
Immune Cell Advancements: According to researchers, there are still many types of cells and immune cells throughout the body we do not fully understand. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research specifically calls out B cells and dendritic cells.
CBD and Immune Stimuli: It's important to further examine how CBD interacts with immune system stimuli, both positively and negatively. What happens if the body is exposed to both CBD products and a specific bacteria simultaneously? Will CBD help the body fight off this bacteria? Will it do nothing? These are questions scientists need to answer with specific immune stimuli in mind.
Knowledge Gaps: Researchers note how many information gaps exist in the study of cannabinoids today. For example, there does not seem to be a defined consensus on CBD dosage requirements. Scientists need to study the pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids—the direct effects of these compounds inside the body—to better determine dosage recommendations. In addition, we need increased scientific exploration in both human and veterinary immune responses to CBD, as well as more data on optimal administration routes.