The notion of ‘health is wealth’ has never been as valued as it is now. After the pandemic hit, people have become more aware of physical and mental well-being. Boosting the immune system is one of the vital measures taken toward improving health. A plethora of wellness trends and products are mushrooming overnight. Many declarations are turning sour, but a few are there proving their points. Cannabis is one of them. But are the health claims by this herb supported by facts? Before delving, let’s find out about the immune system.
The immune system is a web of cells, tissues, and organs that collectively fight diseases. When antigens like viruses, bacteria, or chemicals and pollens enter the body, they multiply and cause infections. As the immune system of the body does not recognize these substances, they attack it. By doing this, it saves the body from any threats posed by the foreign agents. The immune system is also responsible for developing antibodies that monitor, weaken, and destroy the infected cells. This quality of resisting diseases and providing protection to the body is called immunity.
Details on Cannabis
Cannabis is a plant that is composed of beneficial cannabinoids. People are using this herb for centuries for medicinal and recreational purposes. Out of almost 100 cannabinoids, the two most notable are CBD and THC. CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol that is non-psychoactive and can have several therapeutic benefits. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the primary psychoactive compound that produces intoxication. Lower doses of THC has the potential to treat many psychological illnesses. Together, these active ingredients show entourage effects and are beneficial for many health problems, including pain, anxiety, cancer, epilepsy, and infections.
Cannabis and Immunity
Cannabis may have a lasting impact on the immune system due to its interactivity with the endocannabinoid system. ECS binds to the natural cannabinoid receptors present in the body to provide homeostasis. Cannabinoid-1 (CB1) is found throughout the body and especially in the brain and spinal cord. It can regulate metabolism and emotional response. Cannabinoid-2 (CB2) receptors exist in the immune and gastrointestinal system. It can manage organ function, muscle movement and play a role in the immune response. As CB receptors are abundantly present in the immune system, and cannabis can interact with them, this herb can help treat symptoms of various autoimmune diseases.
To draw its benefits, users can consume, vape, and inhale cannabis leaves and flowers as extracts and add edibles. Also, there are various products readily available in the market, including oils, lotions, and balms. Some experts claim eating seeds provide much nutrition. All you have to remember is to purchase the best cannabis seeds of 2020 to get a quality and effective product.
How Cannabis Help Building Immunity?
Here is a brief overview of the effectiveness of marijuana to build immunity.
Cannabis May Increase The Total Count Of White Blood Cells.
WBCs (white blood cells) are found in the bone marrow and blood tissues, and they function as the immune cells. An animal study shows cannabinoids’ linking to the production of lymphocytes. These cells activate to secrete specific cytokines that mediate the immune response. In a broader sense, these are primarily responsible for fighting diseases. Another study reveals that cannabis can reduce the number of infected cells by 30 to 60 percent.
Cannabinoids may enhance the ability to provoke tumor cells’ immune response, making them more susceptible to getting recognized. Amplifying the recognition of infected cells can improve their elimination. Thus, by eliminating infected cells and increasing WBCs, marijuana may help build immunity.
It Can Reduce Inflammation.
The immune cells travel to the site of injury or infection and cause inflammation. This way, it signals the immune system to cure and mend the impaired tissues and protect the body from foreign agents. Sometimes, inflammation persists for a long time and attacks the body even if there is no foreign agent. In these cases, inflammation acts against the body, triggering redness, swelling, pain, heat, and loss of function.
Chronic inflammation can also occur due to autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. In some cases, excessive cytokines release to activate more immune cells, causing hyperinflammation.
Studies reveal that cannabinoids can regulate cytokine storms and result in suppressing the immune response. These can induce apoptosis, which is the elimination of the cancerous cells or any other antigen-infected cells. In various autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, colitis, hepatitis, or arthritis, cannabis can produce many anti-inflammatory pathways that protect the body from developing the disease. Cannabinoids can thus support the immune system by subduing inflammation and managing free radicals.
Cannabis Can Improve Immune Function.
Marijuana has shown a promising outcome in a few studies related to immune system improvement. Researchers observed the effect of cannabis on AIDS patients. If it improves immunity in an autoimmune disease, it can positively affect the normal immune functioning.
AIDS is a chronic condition that arises from the immunodeficiency virus, HIV. The virus can cause pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, and many more problems. Wasting syndrome is one of them. AIDS wasting syndrome means an involuntary weight loss of almost 10kgs, which is quite fatal. Further, infections, mouth ulcers, and diarrhea reduce nutrient intake and absorption, contributing to severe weight loss.
Research reveals cannabis reduces neuropathic pain and burning sensation on the skin that is common in HIV infections. Further, marijuana can help reduce nausea, vomiting and increase diet intake. Out of both the derivatives, THC is the cannabinoid that can stimulate appetite, counteract wasting, and help people maintain weight. Researchers have found that THC with other forms of medication and physical therapies can increase the patient’s lean tissues. Moreover, cannabis derivatives can relieve anxiety, uplift the mood, and promote relaxation, improving the patients’ overall quality.
It May Relieve Anxiety and Stress.
Anxiety and stress can adversely affect your immunity. In general, anxiety can release hormones such as adrenaline into your body that can respond to the situation. There may be an increase in pulse and breathing so that the brain gets more active. By this, the immune system gets an immediate boost for a short time. As soon as the stress levels are back to normalcy, the body functioning also gets normal. But the problem arises when anxiousness stays. The body does not get a signal to return to normal conditions weakening immunity. This condition leaves you more susceptible to illnesses.
Studies show that CBD is an efficient anxiolytic that can treat various anxiety disorders like generalized and social anxieties. An oral dose of CBD can control anxiety levels without affecting the baseline. It also lessens the symptoms associated with disorders like post-traumatic stress and OCD. CBD activates the 5HT1 receptors to regulate anxiety and exhibiting anti-compulsive actions. It can control the fear responses and fear extinction in an animal model, blocking the persistent memories of fear common in PTSD.
A clinical study has also found that inhaling high CBD and very low THC content cannabis can reduce stress and depression. The research team revealed that one puff of cannabis was enough to reduce depression symptoms, two to reduce symptoms of anxiety, and ten or more were optimal to reduce acute stress. The same study shows that high CBD content can be a potential treatment for depression. Moreover, all research indicates that cannabis is one of the safest alternatives to other anti-anxiety prescription drugs and antidepressants that often show adverse effects on prolonged use.
Cannabis Can Aid Sleep
Sleep is correlated to your immune system. The less you sleep, the weaker your immunity. During sleep, your body releases protective cytokines that can combat physical and psychological illnesses. Sleep deprivation can hamper the production of these cytokines. Besides, there are shortages of antibodies that can help fight off diseases. Many studies have found that getting less sleep makes you susceptible to various illnesses. Also, sleep can affect how fast you recover from sickness. Prolonged sleeplessness can result in insomnia. The main factors contributing to it are stress, medications, trauma, anxiety-disorders, medications, pain, and certain diseases.
Research finds that CBD has a therapeutic potential to treat insomnia, and THC reduces sleep latency. For instance, CBD can treat underlying conditions like anxiety, pain, and inflammation that can obstruct sleep. THC can also reduce the amount of REM sleep and PTSD-related nightmares leading to quality sleep. Both compounds can let you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for more hours, improving the sleep cycle, and boosting the immune system.
Cannabis is a powerful herb, and tapping its full potential is still at large. Every ongoing research is revealing some distinct benefits of the same. Cannabis’ contribution to the immune system is one of them. Undoubtedly, it has shown some promising effects on improving immunity, but in-depth research is still going on. If you still want to try it to boost your immunity, taking cannabis as a health supplement is not a bad idea till you consult your doctor.