Recent events have made humans think a lot about their immunity, microbes in the environment, and the importance of having a healthy immune system. Fortunately, there are a lot of natural ways to bolster and regulate the immune system to fight off microbes in the environment. CBD is a great natural option because it’s a receptor modulator, meaning that it can provide either a balancing or dampening effect for an overactive response by the immune system. In this article we’ll discuss the immune system, how CBD affects the immune system, how CBD interacts with the immune system, and discuss if CBD is good for the immune system. 

What is the Immune System?

The immune system protects us from infectious agents in the environment that are able to breach the physical barriers of the body such as the skin, mucosal lining of the digestive tract, and the mucosal lining of the airways. The immune system is composed mainly of:

  • White Blood Cells: immune cells that fight off infection, bacteria, and diseases

  • The Thymus: a specialized lymphoid organ that produces white blood cells

  • The Spleen: the main lymphatic organ tasked with keeping bodily fluids balanced

  • The Lymphatic System: a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins

  • Chemical Signalers: messengers that communicate on a cellular level to defend the body

  • Bone Marrow: a soft fatty substance in the cavities of bones

  • Tonsils: soft tissue masses made up of lympth nodes located at the rear of the throat

  • Adenoids: Located at the rear of the throat, part of the lymphatic system

All immune system “communication” is based upon inflammatory messengers or signals, meaning that immune responses themselves are actually inherently inflammatory in nature.

The Innate and Adaptive Immune Systems The immune system has two distinct systems: the innate and adaptive immune systems. They communicate and work in unison to continuously thwart the efforts of any microbes that may be trying to find a new home in the body. The innate immune system will provide an immediate nonspecific response to an infectious agent that may make its way into the body and will, in turn, activate the adaptive immune system which takes a bit longer to kick in.

How does CBD help the immune system?

CBD and immune system health work in conjunction with one another, in fact, CBD is an effective tool in mitigating the overactive signaling that is present in many disease processes and immune dysfunction. CBD achieves this by up-regulating the endocannabinoid system which is meant to regulate cellular function and decrease inflammatory signaling, bringing the body closer to homeostasis (internal regulation). With the immune system being a vital and intricate part of the human body, using CBD for immune system health may help regulate both the innate and adaptive immune responses and bring peace to the system as a whole.

CBD acts as an immunosuppressive agent, tied closely with its ability to promote healthy inflammatory function, which helps down regulate overactive immune or autoimmune responses that play prominent roles in the development of common disease or illnesses. CBD is able to achieve immunosuppression, by binding CB2 receptors which are found on many cells throughout the immune system, directly causing cell death, inhibiting proliferation/recreations, decreasing immune chemical signalers, and upregulating T regulating cells (immune cells). CBD has also been shown to act as a modulator for the immune system by allowing proper migration, enhanced chemical messaging, and normalized maturation of immune cells.

Is CBD for the immune system effective?

CBD is not the best way to fight off an infection, or prevent someone from getting the bug that’s going around. CBD is, however, a potent immunosuppressive and immune-modulating compound that shows therapeutic promise. As aforementioned, all immune system responses can be classified as inflammatory, which in excess, is the root cause of the majority of illnesses. CBD may be able to help combat these over-reactive patterns related to immune dysfunction by directly affecting chemical messengers and cells. Much like it calms the mind and the body, CBD helps the immune system to go from an overactive supersensitive state to a more calm and regulated state. These breaks from constant inflammatory signals and immune activation allow the body to turn its attention to repairing the damage caused by the long-standing activation. When the body has time to heal and repair its damaged systems it can further bolster its protection against infectious agents trying to get into the body, potentially preventing infections. This does not mean CBD should be taken to prevent getting sick, as getting sick is a normal and necessary part of life. Allowing the body to build up its immune “memory” while fighting off a wide variety of microbes will further prepare it to fight off anything serious that may get into the body. What it does mean is that CBD may be able to help  immune dysfunction. Now more than ever, humans need a properly regulated immune system but our environments, food, and mental health have all caused shifts in immune function. With this, we see increased rates of chronic infections, gut microbiome imbalances, and widespread pandemics of new diseases. Yet, if humans begin to live more in tune with nature and its natural processes, the incidence of these diseases will surely decrease over time and our immune systems will thank us for the preventative measures that have been taken.

How do I support my immune system?

Current development of hygiene and modern medicine throughout history has prevented many people from being as susceptible to infectious diseases as humans once were, yet it still takes a great deal of work and mindfulness to keep the immune system in a healthy, balanced state.This is why providing proper immune support into your daily routine is extremely important by boosting immunity with:

  • Eating a diet rich in organic vegetables

  • Drinking lots of water

  • Getting adequate amounts of sunshine

  • Proper sleep

  • Consistent exercise

In conclusion Fortunately, with advances in medical care and access to alternative forms of treatment, people now have a wide range of types of herbs and protocols to choose from to support immunity. Luckily for everyone, the scientific evidence supporting herbs as a safe and effective treatment for various diseases continues to grow. With this growth, CBD has now become one of the most intriguing plant molecules with the explosion of the CBD marketplace its legalization throughout the United States and the world and it’s becoming clear that it may offer a powerful tool for addressing the immune system.

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Weiss, L., Zeira, M., Reich, S., Har-Noy, M., Mechoulam, R., Slavin, S., & Gallily, R. (2006). Cannabidiol lowers incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Autoimmunity, 39(2), 143-151.

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