Research from the past several decades has concluded that cannabis offers many therapeutic benefits like relief from stress, anxiety, inflammation, chronic pain, etc. But experts are still unsure how consumption aids our immune system function on the whole.
It may come as a surprise to you that despite many studies conducted on an array of subjects related to cannabis, there is little to none on whether cannabis boosts or weakens our immune systems.
In this blog, we will highlight the limited studies conducted in this particular area of cannabis, talk about its implications on consumption, and how you can ensure safe and healthy use altogether.
The Growing Concern
Some users are becoming reluctant about cannabis consumption today due to the speculation that regular consumption may reduce the performance of their immune systems.
On the other hand, experts are suggesting that while a suppressed immune system may not be healthy, it may be beneficial for some people suffering from autoimmune diseases. These are illnesses where your own immune system begins to attack your body, in which case suppressing this system will enable your bodily functions to operate seamlessly.
Some common examples of autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 7% (approximately 23.5 million) of Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases.
In other words, if cannabis suppresses immune systems, which as per the current (and very limited) data it does, it may be great news for autoimmune disease patients.
The Role of Your Immune System
Before we go into the effects of cannabis on our immune system, you need to understand how this defense system works.
The immune system is one of our body’s most sophisticated systems constructed of endogenous chemicals, specialized cells, organs, and a lot more. Its purpose is to ward off invaders like pathogens to keep the body in perfect condition.
Certain immune system components like the antibodies, the thymus, white blood cells, and the lymphatic system combine to make up our body’s defense system.
Another important system to learn about before understanding how cannabis affects our immunity is the endocannabinoid system, commonly known as the ECS.
ECS is part of the immune system and is responsible for halting alien entries in our bodies. The CB1 and CB2 receptors present in the ECS help regulate the effects of cannabis in our immune system. For instance, consuming a CBD or THC dominant strain directly interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS, which onsets their effects on our bodies.
Effects of Cannabis on Your Immune System
Immune suppression is common for people with disrupted systems. When you consume cannabis, it either alters the response of the entire immune system (a process called immunomodulation), or it changes certain aspects of the immune system (a process called immunosuppression).
A 2017 research suggests that both THC and CBD (two of the most popular cannabinoids in cannabis) lead to the former type (immunomodulation) of response. Furthermore, the research also found out that oral administration of CBD increased its concertation by 250 times as compared to the plasma in the intestinal lymphatic system. Similarly, THC levels rose by 100 times in the same region.
What does this mean?
Such high levels of cannabinoids in your body translate into the following:
If your immune system is not working properly for any reason, high concentrations of cannabinoids will enable it to suppress unhealthy inflammatory immune responses much more effectively. In a case where your immune system is working fine, suppression from cannabis may not be beneficial for you in the first place.
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