As cannabis grows in popularity, scientists are expanding the amount of research conducted to analyze the effects of cannabis on the body to increase our knowledge and understanding of the subject. In fact, the National Institutes of Health has funded research on the medical benefits of both CBD and THC. Even though cannabis is legal in many states, the research is a long and slow process due to the federal prohibition of the drug.
While scientists are continuing to learn, cannabis can affect the human body in many ways. In terms of how cannabis effects your immune system, the relationship is complicated, and comes with both pros and cons.
With the research that has been conducted, researchers have found that cannabis can suppress your immune system response. However, for those living with autoimmune conditions who struggle with an overactive immune system, this may be an extreme benefit.
The Endocannabinoid System and the Immune System
The job of the immune system in your body is to fight off any infections or diseases. This collection of white blood cells and organs are responsible for maintaining health and homeostasis in the body. To assist with this, the endocannabinoid system is a complex nerve cell signaling system that monitors the central nervous system’s function and helps maintain homeostasis.
In the endocannabinoid system, the CB1 and CB2 receptors interact with CBD and THC within the body and can affect the functioning of these cells. As a matter of fact, there is evidence that CBD and THC actually diminish inflammation responses in these immune cells and may lead to the death of immune cells. However, this is a normal part of the cell life cycle.
The Effect of Cannabis
According to research published in 2017, Scientists have described the effects of THC and CBD on the immune system as immunomodulatory or immunosuppressive. An immunomodulatory effect just means that cannabis alters the immune system. An immunosuppressive effect means that cannabis reduces the immune system response.
For individuals who have a dysregulated immune system that needs suppression, this can be extremely beneficial. On the other hand, in a healthy and functioning immune system, consistent cannabis use can reduce functioning and leads to fewer proinflammatory cells and more anti-inflammatory cells which reduces the functionality of the white blood cells.
As scientists continue to conduct more and more research, our understanding of the effects of cannabis on the immune system will keep growing.