Right now, as we teeter on the edge of a coronavirus crisis, it’s more important than ever to make sure our immune system is in tip top shape. With CBD being touted by some as the answer to every malaise known to humankind, we thought this would be a good time to examine what we know about CBD and the immune system.
People take CBD for a whole host of reasons, some to manage symptoms for serious health conditions while others simply use CBD like any other vitamin or mineral. As we begin to learn more about the endocannabinoid system - our body’s innate mechanism ensuring all our biological activity remains in balance - supporting endocannabinoid function is an excellent way to maintain optimum health, especially when it comes to our immune system.
Our Immune System - An Overview
It’s easy to think that we are sitting targets for the coronavirus, with nothing to defend ourselves apart from a bottle of hand sanitiser. However, if we are lucky enough to have a robust immune system, we are in fact hardwired to fight off infectious diseases, bacteria, and viruses (known as antigens).
Key players in our immune system include white blood cells (leukocytes) that either destroy antigens and help the body to remember previous attackers and phagocytes that eat up foreign intruders.
We can also thank our immune system for detecting and killing malfunctioning cells inside our bodies. Known as apoptosis, this ensures these cells do not continue growing and become cancerous.
Apoptosis is an important part of a healthy functioning immune system. However, if there’s too much cell death, autoimmune diseases can result, while too little can create the perfect environment for cancer.
Inflammation is produced in response to harmful stimuli such as pathogens, damaged cells or injury, initiating the healing process. However, when this inflammation occurs on a chronic basis or as the result of an overactive immune system, tissue and organ damage can occur.
The Endocannabinoid System and the Immune System
When scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system in the 1990s, they soon realised this complex network for receptors and cannabis-like chemicals were some kind of homeostatic regulator – continually working to maintain a state of biological balance.
Endocannabinoid CB2 receptors are found on immune cells, suggesting endocannabinoids act upon our immune cells directly through these receptors creating an overall anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive effect. Consequently they are considered a therapeutic target for autoimmune disorders and neurodegenerative disease.
Interestingly, this immunosuppressant endocannabinoid activity is considered transient, and can be overridden in the presence of infection when inflammation is required as part of our system of immune defense.
It’s clear then that as well as regulating everything from appetite to sleep, the endocannabinoid system also plays a crucial role in maintaining an optimally functioning immune system.
So how does CBD fit into this?
CBD and the Immune System
Understanding how cannabinoids found in hemp like CBD affect the immune system is an area of research still in its infancy.
While CBD doesn’t bind with endocannabinoid receptors, we know it has an overall anti-inflammatory effect by reducing proinflammatory proteins called cytokines and inhibiting T-cell production (white blood cells that destroy antigens). Interestingly, in autoimmune conditions, cytokines are overexpressed and T- and B-cells are accumulated in affected tissues, which could explain why many patients find CBD helpful.
CBD is also known to increase anandamide levels in the body by blocking fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the enzyme responsible for its metabolization. Anandamide also has an overall anti-inflammatory effect in the body, as well as helping to promote healthy mood.
However, it should be noted that these patients are given high doses of purified CBD, which cannot be compared to the much smaller amounts of whole plant CBD oil taken by Spirit of Hemp customers.
Indeed, in all likelihood, incorporating CBD into your everyday life actually supports immune function rather than suppressing it.
Many of us take CBD to help manage stress levels, which when out of whack actually weaken our immune system. So, if CBD helps you to feel calmer and sleep better at night, you’re giving your immune system a better chance to fight off any outside invaders.
So what does this mean then if you are taking CBD and you are worried about catching coronavirus or any other nasty bug that’s going round?
The general advice for anyone with a compromised immune system or taking immunosuppressant drugs, is to minimise the risk of infection by avoiding public gatherings and taking appropriate hygiene precautions.
For the rest of us, we’d do well to keep calm, carry on, and continue taking our CBD. So, why not head over to our webshop and check out our range of organic, whole plant CBD range.