CBD has become a front runner, overtaking many otherwise commonly used drugs, medications, and treatment practices. The rise is nothing but meteoric, and the climb is expected to continue till the near future. The benefits of consuming Cannabis Sativa were etched in stone and penned in literature; civilizations from the Greeks to the Chinese have all praised the calming nature that the plant offered to its user.
Fast forward a couple of thousand years to the 21st century and scientists are huddled in state-of-the-art labs, in a desperate attempt to decode the molecular makeup of CBD. Not limited to just that, but also how it interacts with the web of various biological functions, one that is of particular interest is the interplay of the immune system with CBD.
Those who ingest cannabis feel many benefits of immunosuppressant, because of cannabinoids in them such as THC and CBD. There are studies that show how regular cannabis can increase the white blood cell count, especially in immunodeficiency disorders like HIV; hence CBD is an immune booster. The CBD benefits are far-reaching when we begin considering the effect that CBD and many cannabinoids have on the endocannabinoid system, which in turn have ties to the immune system.
The point to understand is that we have plenty more to discover about cannabinoids and the effects that it has on our immune system.
The Immune System
The human body is in an environment that is trying to snuff the life out of it. There are infectious diseases, bacteria, and viruses that are all over in the air, water, and the surfaces around, with the sole intention of wreaking havoc in the body. Without a defense system in place to fight off these intruders, we would be cold and hard in a few minutes. This is fortunately where the immune system comes into play. The immune system is the complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that are designed to eliminate and neutralize threats in the body.
The foot soldiers of the immune system are the white blood cells or the leukocytes, which seek out and destroy antigens with military precision. The leukocytes are mainly of two types, one is the lymphocytes (T cells and B cells) which are tasked with destroying antigens and remembering them, while the others are the phagocytes, which absorb the foreign intruders.
Diseases like HIV wipe out the T-cell and make it more difficult for the human body to eradicate antigens. This is why, even a common cold that would pass in a day or two, becomes a fight against life and death for a patient who is diagnosed as HIV-positive.
Our immune system plays the role of detecting ‘bad’ cells and tissues, and prevent them from turning into tumors by the process of apoptosis, or cell death. The killing of cells is an important aspect, and maintaining a delicate balance between death and life is crucial.
The Endocannabinoid System
Optimum immune functioning involves a balance and a constant line of communication between the immune cells and the other cells, tissues, and organs in the body. The endocannabinoid system was the missing link that helped tie in the various elements of this ‘balancing act’ together.
The endocannabinoid system comprises two main G-protein coupled receptors which are the CB1 and the CB2 receptors, proteins that transport endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG), and enzymes that metabolize them in the body. Endocannabinoids don’t perpetually float in the system and are produced on a ‘demand-basis’, and travel from the modulating cell activity and the synapses. It is the ECS or the endocannabinoid system that creates these endocannabinoids, and this is why it is regarded as the guardian of homeostasis; working second after second ensuring that a healthy biological state is maintained.
The ECS is responsible for a host of other psychological and physiological functions, right from inflammation to immune function. As mentioned, CB1 and CB2 receptors can be found on immune cells and the numbers of CB2 receptors are 100 times more than CB1 receptors. The natural endocannabinoids interact with the CB2 receptors in the immune cells. These are the same receptors that create the anti-inflammatory effects.
CBD And The Immune System
CBD and many other cannabinoids interact with the receptors on the ECS, namely the CB1 and the CB2 receptors. These interactions are ditto to the action of natural endocannabinoids that cause an anti-inflammatory effect and acts as an immunosuppressant. This is why those suffering from Crohn’s disease and other such autoimmune diseases find much peace as a result of the reduced inflammation. Autoimmune diseases arise when the guardian angels who are to look after us mistake our otherwise perfectly healthy cells and organs as disease-ridden. The result is constant pain and swelling, at a moment’s notice without any particular triggers. CBD helps such patients reduce the efficiency of the immune system, to cut down the pain and inflammation.