Guest article by Macey W
How can I boost my immune system? Is CBD effective in strengthening my immunity? Many are asking these questions right now as we navigate the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
At Mind Ful, we believe it’s important to explore these questions with curiosity while paying attention to our own mental wellness. After all, stress is bad for the immune system and if you are spending a significant amount of time worrying about your health, you can end up lowering your immune function.
If you’re looking for ways to boost immune function, the best way to approach it is to look at the facts and make an informed decision about what will work best for you. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the research says about CBD and immune function.
We rely on our immune systems to defend against all sorts of infections and illnesses. Its role is to fight against harmful substances like bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites and more.
The immune system gets activated often from various substances the body does not recognize. Bacteria and viruses are a great example of these outside substances known as antigens. When they attach to immune cells, the system triggers a number of defenses to fight them off. Once your immune system has been in contact with a specific invader, it will be able to fight it off more effectively the next time around.
A key aspect of the immune response is inflammation. When immune cells travel and react to antigens, they induce an inflammatory response to destroy the outside substances.
While we know inflammation is key for fighting harmful substances, the body can sometimes mistakenly attack healthy cells. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others. So while inflammation is important for immune function, it can cause trouble when the system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous ones.
The role of CBD in immune health starts at the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) has been shown to play a role as a regulator of inflammation. Because of its role in regulating inflammation, researchers have pointed to a large body of data indicating this receptor’s role in immune function.
Researchers believe the CB2 receptor may serve as a target for therapeutic manipulation of hyperinflammatory immune responses, finding that the CB2 receptor plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis within the immune system.
With its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD may help interfere with the release of cytokines, proteins that are secreted as part of an inflammatory response. By interfering with the release of cytokines, CBD may be beneficial in reducing immune system overreactions to healthy cells.
In a recent study titled Immune Responses Regulated by Cannabidiol, researchers found more compelling evidence that CBD may be beneficial for immune health. They concluded CBD to be immune suppressive and able to activate different types of immune cells, induce cellular apoptosis (a programmed cell death) and promote regulatory cells to other immune cell targets.
We also have evidence that CBD activates transient receptor potential vanilloid 2 (TRPV2), a protein responsible for communicating with cells about their environments. TRPV2 plays a critical role in immune function, so activating this receptor may be one of several ways CBD may support immune health.
Other studies have found CBD plays a role in maintaining immune function through the reduction of activity for other specific cells. It’s also worth noting that while most of the definitive research we have backing CBD’s role in immune health comes from its ability to suppress certain immune functions and reduce inflammation, researchers acknowledge there have been some reports of immune-enhancing effects, though we’ll need more conclusive evidence to support this.
CBD shows a lot of promise for improving immune health, especially when it comes to suppressing overactive immune responses.
Keep in mind that stress and anxiety can play an important role in immune health as well. Stress can weaken the immune system and make it difficult to fight off invaders.
It’s important to keep your stress and mental health in check if you want to maintain a healthy immune system. This can be difficult during uncertain times like COVID-19. Along with regular exercise, healthy eating, and other beneficial habits, taking CBD may help alleviate some anxiety and stress which is important for immune health.
As with most things, CBD is not a cure-all. It may be a useful tool for improving immune health though, especially when paired with other healthy habits like regular exercise, healthy meals, and tending to your mental health.