How does CBD affect the immune system?
So far, CBD has been found to be effective in relieving pain, managing depression and anxiety, treating seizure disorders, lowing blood pressure, and a lot more. It is no surprise the remedy has become a media and science fascination over the last few years. The role of CBD in the immune system is not often spoken about. In this article, we will be showing you how CBD affects the immunity system.
What is the Immune System?
Our bodies are usually under constant threats from disease-causing organisms. We are only able to withstand these threats because of our immune system.
Our immunity is a system of organs, cells, and biochemical substances that form the body's defence mechanism. Some of the components of the immune system include:
- The spleen
- Bone marrow
- White blood cells
- The complementary system, etc.
How does the immune system work?
All the components of the immune system work together to secure your health. Each component of the immune system has a role it plays in the overall mechanism. Whenever you feel sick, it is often because the bad guys cells trying to beat the good ones.
The thymus is responsible for blood filtration and the production of T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. The bone marrow is responsible for producing blood cells, including white blood cells responsible for immune response. The spleen filters the blood and produces antibodies and lymphocytes.
Like the name suggests, antibodies fight foreign bodies and their toxins. They are essential in our immune response. They recognise the labels (called antigens) on the surface of disease-causing organisms in the body and sound the alarm. They can also identify the poisons from the microbes that release toxins.
White blood cells (WBCs) are the infection-fighting blood cells. They go about the body searching for invaders. WBCs come in various forms with each having its own function. When there is an infection, the bone marrow is stimulated to deploy more cells. This is while the white blood cell count can tell if you have an infection or not.
As you can see, the immune system is a complex cascade essential for our wellbeing.
How Does CBD Interact with the Immune System?
It might surprise you to know our bodies also release cannabinoid substances. Endocannabinoids are biochemical neurotransmitters that transmit neuronal signals by binding to cannabinoid receptors (CBR). This entire biological structure is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The system plays crucial roles in our body's activities, including mood, pain sensation, cognition, and immune response.
The cannabinoid released by the body interacts with two CBRs – CB1 and CB2. They are both found in the immune systems. But CB2 is more prevalent than CB1. While in the brain, CB1 is commoner.
Now, CBD does not bind to any of these receptors itself. It, however, stimulates the production and release of the body's own cannabinoids. These then binds to these receptors and take effect.
How is CBD Beneficial to the Immune System?
The components of the immune systems are scattered all over the body. So are the cannabinoid receptors. This means CBD can affect the immune system in many ways. Here are the major immunological benefits of CBD.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is one of the body's responses to an assault. CBD prevents the action of interleukins, one of the elements of the immune system. It also activates the anti-inflammatory cascade. CBD can reduce the risk of secondary damage from inflammation which might be irreversible. As such, it has been tipped to be a possible treatment in the management of inflammation in neuroinflammatory problems like myasthenia gravis (MS).
- It is an immunomodulator.
CBD exerts immunomodulatory effects. Immunomodulators are like the conductor of an orchestra, this time, the immune system. They coordinate the immune response from various components in the system. They ensure the right action is taken in the face of a threat.
- CBD protects the body against viruses
CBD reinforces your body's defence to viruses by increasing natural killer cells. The natural killer (NK) cells are one of the forms of white blood cells. When there is a viral infection, CBD stimulates the release of NK cells. NK cells attack viruses and contain viral infections. They release a substance called perforin that makes the viral cell undergo apoptosis (cell death).
- Protects your guts
The gut also has a lot of microorganisms called the gut flora or microbiota. Some of these organisms are totally harmless and are just minding their businesses. Some might even be beneficial. But among the microbiota, some bad bacteria can cause inflammation of the guts.
Luckily, there are clusters of lymphoid tissues within the guts' walls that protect the gut. CBD has also been found to improve the function of these lymphoid tissues to regulate the possible inflammation.
- Reduces stress
You might be wondering why this is relevant. Well, stress weakens the immune system and makes your body vulnerable to infections.
CBD reduces the risk of succumbing to infection after stress because it exerts a calming effect. This is because the compound regulates blood flow to the parts of the brain that has to do with anxiety. It also acts on serotonin receptions, the happy hormone. It is a very healthy way to manage stress and keep your immunity at its best.
Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive substance that has many benefits. The role of CBD in immunity and immune response is one that is commonly overlooked. While there is still a lot of research to be done within this area, initial studies are yielding very hopeful results.