Can CBD Boost Your Immune System?
As we enter the heat of flu season, many of us are wondering how to stay healthy. This year more than ever, it is important to keep your immune health in good shape to avoid contracting a number of infectious diseases that can show symptoms similar to that of COVID-19. In the push to increase our immune health, one question keeps rising more often: can CBD boost your immune system?
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
To understand how CBD interacts with your immune system, you must first understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system, discovered in 1992, is a biological system comprised of endocannabinoids, which are lipid-based neurotransmitters, and the cannabinoid receptors they interact with.
Researchers have found two cannabinoid receptors in humans (and mammalian species). CB1, largely present in the nervous system and organs; and CB2, predominantly found in the immune system. Altogether, the body’s ECS has been found to regulate several communications between cells, including our immune system, appetite, metabolism, memory, mood, pain, and more.
How Can CBD Boost Your Immune System?
Once believed that CBD attached directly to CB2 receptors, scientists now know CBD doesn’t attach to either receptor directly. Instead, CBD instructs the body to use more of its own cannabinoids and impacts these receptors indirectly. However, just because the interaction is indirect doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful.
As early as 2010, one study showed that CBD includes anti-inflammatory properties and can work as an immunomodulator. Now, you might be familiar with CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, but what does immunomodulator mean? Simply put, immunomodulators are supplements that help regulate or normalize the immune system.
Specifically, immunomodulators are classified as immunosuppressants or immunostimulants. CBD is an immunosuppressant. This may intuitively sound bad but is not to be feared. Why would you want to suppress the immune system? You’re not; immunosuppressants suppress the secretion of cytokines. These are large groups of proteins produced by your body’s immune system. The body is better able to regulate inflammation, immunity, and the production of white blood cells when cytokines are suppressed. This is all crucial in making sure your immune system works efficiently to keep you healthy.
Other Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Although CBD offers benefits, it’s also important to take care of your body in other ways. Making a plan to stop smoking is one of the biggest ways you can increase your immune system’s health in the long-term. According to Harvard, even social (or light) smokers are at a severely increased risk of developing complicating health issues.
Similar things can be said about the impact of sleep on your immune health. Studies show that consistently getting less than 7 hours of sleep can drastically weaken your immune system. For tips on how to achieve healthier sleep, check out our past blog 5 Tips for a Better Night of Sleep.
Lastly, proactively taking steps to avoid infection can help greatly reduce your risk of becoming ill. Most people think only of personal hygiene and while that is important, there are a number of other precautions to keep in mind. For example, making sure to follow proper food preparation and handling standards can limit your risk.
When it comes to improving your immune health there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. CBD can supplement your immune system by keeping white blood cell counts high, but remember not to neglect other forms of prevention. Living a well-balanced lifestyle is the best way to avoid sickness during times of the year when infections increase.