The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that serve as our bodies defense system against infectious organisms. It’s also vital to your well-being and ensuring that its functions aren’t compromised is in your best interest. For patients, So how does cannabis affect the immune system?
To understand the question of how cannabis affects the immune system, it’s essential to discuss the basic workings of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system isn’t isolated like other biological systems, as it can be found throughout the body within humans and other animals.
Cannabinoid receptors bind with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD to help our body self-regulate and balance a wide variety of physiological functions. The ECS influences:
- Appetite and metabolism
- Mood and stress
- Nervous system
- Immune system
- and more
Pros and Cons: How Cannabis Affects The Immune System
One of the most profound effects of cannabis is its ability to balance the immune system and reduce the bodies inflammatory response. This can either be good or bad depending on your condition.
How Does Cannabis Affect the Immune System: Pros
Sometimes the immune system will overreact to a perceived internal threat. This can result in a variety of autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Type 1 Diabetes. Cannabis has been shown to be effective in reducing the inflammatory response associated with these conditions and help the immune system return to equilibrium.
In other cases, the immune system will experience reduced effectiveness which is caused by conditions like cancer and HIV/AIDs. Though more research is needed to reach a conclusion, several studies have shown that cannabis actually strengthens the immune system’s response to these conditions.
Cannabis may also modulate neurogenesis and neurodegeneration. The immune system plays a significant role in conditions stemming from abnormalities in these functions. Early animal studies have shown that cannabis could be beneficial for patients of stroke, head injury, cerebral ischemia, and tauopathy.
How Does Cannabis Affect the Immune System: Cons
People that are healthy likely don’t need the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis. Normal inflammation is a natural response for humans and is beneficial for fighting infection by trapping harmful pathogens and isolating damaged parts of the body. Again, more research is needed before the potential long-term effects of cannabis on the immune system can be stated.
The method with which you consume cannabis also plays a role. When you combust cannabis, it makes the immune system work harder. For this reason, it is often recommended that patients eat edibles.