If you have been considering taking CBD for immune system health or an autoimmune condition that you already have, then you MUST read this. CBD oil may have the potential to boost your immunity and manage your immune response. Those with autoimmune diseases may also find cannabidiol to be beneficial. Is it possible that CBD oil can both strengthen and weaken the immune system? See what the research has to say.
Does CBD Have an Effect on Your Immune System?
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The term “immune health” is incredibly broad in the medical world, and it can invoke several different clinical interpretations. Several scientific publications have described the “immunomodulating” properties of active cannabinoids (like CBD) – but what does this mean, exactly?
We know that patients who suffer from autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, frequently use cannabis as adjuvant therapy. But is it useful for healthy individuals? Could it potentially prevent diseases and boost overall immune health?
This article explores some of the most relevant research publications on CBD’s far-reaching influence on the immune system. A greater clinical foundation is necessary to come to any definitive conclusions regarding its specific physiological effects. However, it’s clear that the endocannabinoid system and the immune system are very interrelated.
CBD and the Immune System: Bridged by the Endocannabinoid System
To even scratch the surface in describing CBD’s potential effects on the body’s immune system, we need a basic understanding of how the endocannabinoid system works.
The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a network of cannabinoids and receptors that regulate most functions in the human body. As researchers have described it, one of these functions is its role as an “immuno-cannabinoid” modulator.
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This means that “communicative” molecules in the ECS can work as a signaling mechanism. They provide instructions for the functional machinery involved in the immune response.
Among other things, these “instructions” provide information for the body’s immune system that tells it when to engage its line of defense, where, and how strongly to engage it.
Does CBD Benefit the Immune System?
Additionally, some researchers have even speculated that the ECS may work to “notify” the body of an “incorrect” autoimmune response, wherein the defense cells attack otherwise healthy organs and tissues. This may be why cannabinoids seem to function so well in treating autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
Bear in mind, however, that as of right now, all of this research is still speculative. We require far more in-depth studies to have a more thorough understanding of the exact molecular pathways at work.
However, we know that cannabinoids such as CBD can reduce painful, inflammatory responses in humans when taken at certain levels. This is particularly true among those who suffer from some of the aforementioned autoimmune conditions.
Moreover, we know that compounds that stimulate the endocannabinoid system can promote new nerve cell generation (neurogenesis). They could also reduce nerve cell degeneration (this last part was already seen in animals).
Compounds that stimulate the ECS could reduce nerve cell degeneration.
So, what does this mean? When an individual suffers a serious traumatic event (i.e., has a severe head injury, stroke, etc.), the lack of oxygen and excess inflammation severely damages the nerve cells.
Experts believe that CBD could protect nerve cells because of its efficacy as an antioxidant. Few people know that the U.S. government holds a patent on cannabinoids for this exact purpose.
CBD and the Immune System: Have We Even Scratched the Surface?
Let’s make one thing very clear: there is much about the functioning of the immune system and the body’s immune response that is unknown. Even less is known about the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Not even the world’s leading medical cannabis experts can outwardly claim that CBD has a “such-and-such” effect on the immune system. It’s clear (according to several studies) that cannabinoids have some influence on the overall immune response. However, it’s unclear how we might manipulate it or administer treatments to achieve the most beneficial results possible.
While cannabinoids impact the immune response, experts are not yet sure how to use them effectively.
One thing worth researching more, however, is CBD’s potential ability to “balance” the two major arms of the immune system.
Generally speaking, there are two different ways in which the body’s adaptive immune cells can seek out and “eliminate” dangerous pathogens (foreign agents that can result in disease, infection, etc.):
- Cell-mediated immunity:This involves using T-cells that seek out and destroy foreign antigens on their own by inducing apoptosis, or “programmed cell suicide,” in the foreign antigen.
- Humoral immunity:This occurs when the body’s B-cells produce specific antibodies to seek out and destroy the dangerous pathogens.
In autoimmune diseases, one of these types of immunity becomes overactive and begins to attack and destroy healthy cells and tissues.
Final Thoughts on CBD and the Immune System
Are you considering taking CBD for immune system health or an autoimmune condition that you already have? If so, please note that there are dozens of high-quality CBD oils and tinctures available for sale online. Most companies can ship to all 50 U.S. states due to their manufacturing guidelines under the 2018 Farm Bill.
Whenever possible, however, try to speak with a physician or other clinical professional regarding the use of CBD oil for immune health. We have recently published an article relating to specific CBD dosing guidelines. However, we must reiterate the fact that we are not health professionals. Therefore, none of the information on this site should be interpreted as clinical advice.
Also, the FDA does not yet recognize CBD as a medicine. This means CBD sellers are legally obliged to market their CBD tinctures as “nutritional supplements” rather than actual medicinal drugs.
And finally, make sure you perform thorough research on your own and use CBD under your judgment. We make no outward claims or guarantees that it will be effective or therapeutic for you and your condition, regardless of data that’s available in scientific studies.
CBD and the Immune System: Can Hemp Oil Boost Your Immunity?
Some suggest that CBD possesses immunomodulating properties, but what does this mean? What we do know is that individuals suffering from autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis often use cannabis as an alternative form of therapy.
Is using cannabis, specifically CBD, useful for decreasing inflammation in the body? Is it something generally healthy individuals could also benefit from? Is there a way it could potentially boost our overall immune health?
It’s no secret that the endocannabinoid system and the immune system are interrelated. Let’s explore some of the links between cannabidiol and immunity.
CBD For The Immune System
Before we dive deeper into the benefits of using CBD oil for the immune system, let’s get a good understanding of how our endocannabinoid system operates.
Our endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a network of receptors and cannabinoids that regulate many functions of the human body. One of the functions being its role as an “immuno-cannabinoid” modulator.
Communicative molecules in the ECS work as a signaling mechanism, which provides instructions for the immune response. These instructions provide information regarding the body’s immune system that tells it when to engage in defense, how strongly to engage, and where to engage.
Can CBD Boost Your Immune System?
Your body is exposed daily to hundreds of thousands of diseases, infections, viruses, and bacteria. If we had no immune system, even the common cold could become fatal. The cells, tissues, and organs that make up our immune system work together to eliminate foreign particles and invaders.
It’s responsible for keeping you healthy, and when you do fall ill, it helps you recover quickly if it’s working properly. This complex system is also tasked with identifying cells that are not functioning properly and eliminating them from your body. If your immune system wasn’t working, these undesirable cells could multiply.
CBD & Autoimmunity
Some suggest that the endocannabinoid system may also work to notify the body of incorrect autoimmune responses, where defense cells end up attacking otherwise healthy organs and tissues. This may be the reason why cannabinoids function so well when used for autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus.
Although cannabidiol shows promise regarding its part in helping the immune system function better, research is still speculative. We will require many more in-depth studies to have a more solid and thorough understanding of how they interact.
CBD & Inflammation
We know that cannabinoids may also be able to reduce painful inflammatory responses when taken in certain doses. This is especially true for anyone suffering from the autoimmune disorders we previously mentioned. We also know that compounds that stimulate our ECS can promote new nerve cell generation or neurogenesis. They may even be able to reduce cell degeneration. Something previously witnessed in animal studies.
If an individual were to suffer a serious traumatic event, such as a head injury, heart attack, or stroke, the lack of oxygen and the high levels of inflammation could severely damage nerve cells.
Some experts suggest that CBD could protect nerve cells and reduce neuropathic pain because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties .
The United States government holds a patent on cannabinoids for their many potential health benefits.
Symptoms of a Weakened Immune System
The following infections may recur with a high frequency. Common infections found in individuals with weak immune systems include:
- skin infections
You may also have a higher risk of experiencing the following if you have a weak immune system:
- autoimmune disorders
- inflammation of internal organs
- blood disorders and abnormalities, like anemia
- digestive problems, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping
- growth or developmental delays in infants or children
A doctor can do a blood test to identify whether or not a person has a weak immune system. The test simply shows if an individual has antibodies in the normal range.
The bottom line is that CBD may be able to help boost your immune system. Some research has revealed its anti-inflammatory properties and that it can work as an immunosuppressant and an immunomodulator.
Inflammation is one of the most important processes managed by your immune system. This response helps isolate and target areas that are infected and prevent toxic components from spreading to other areas in the body. Cannabidiol may also be able to reduce your immune system’s inflammatory response.
How Does CBD Interact with the Immune System?
Cannabinoids have some degree of an influence on our immune response. However, we still are not completely sure how to manipulate or administer treatment to achieve the best result possible yet.
What we are aware of is that cannabidiol possesses some potential when it comes to balancing the two major elements of the immune system.
CB2 reception in the ECS is usually found in your immune system. CB1 receptors can also be found in your immune system; however, there are 10-100x more CB2 receptors than CB1 receptors in the immune system. CBD has also been found to work as an immunosuppressant and immunomodulator. Immunosuppressants are agents that can suppress the immune response. They can treat lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease as well.
Immunomodulators are agents which are used to regulate or normalize your immune system. Data is also overwhelmingly in favor of the notion that cannabidiol is an immune system regulator .
Immunosuppressants suppress the body’s immune system and ability to fight infections and other diseases. Immunosuppression may be deliberately induced in preparation for bone marrow or other organ transplants to ensure the prevention of rejection of the donor tissue.
Cannabidiol has also been shown to help modulate or suppress the secretion and functioning of cytokines .
These large groups of proteins are secreted in our body’s immune system. It helps regulate inflammation, immunity, and also the production of white blood cells. This allows your immune system to work smarter and keep you happy and healthy.
CBD can also effectively suppress chemokine production .
A chemokine is a group of cytokines that act as a chemoattractant, which works by inducing an organism or cell to migrate towards it. Chemokines are used to lead immune cells to an infected area; this way, white blood cells can destroy microbes that are invading the infected area.
CBD can suppress T-Cell function and production in addition to chemokines. This encourages suppression of the immune system’s ability to remember invaders.
CBD vs. Autoimmune Disease
Cannabidiol may have potential as a treatment for some autoimmune diseases. When it comes to autoimmune diseases, immunity becomes overactive and will begin attacking and trying to destroy healthy tissues, organs, and cells.
This can occur virtually anywhere in the body and may result in particular body functions weakening or failing, and sometimes in life-threatening conditions.
Three of the most common autoimmune diseases include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic skin conditions like psoriasis. Other autoimmune conditions include endometriosis (disorder in the womb’s lining), lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes.
Many users with these conditions have found success in using CBD. Inflammation plays a key role in autoimmune diseases, and as a potential anti-inflammatory, cannabidiol might be able to help your body manage the symptoms of the disease.
CBD’s immunosuppressive nature may also be able to help those with hyperactive immune systems that attack themselves instead of functioning properly.
Final Thoughts on CBD & the Immune System
If you have a compromised immune system or simply want to add something that will support your overall health, CBD could provide some much-needed relief.
When it comes to using CBD oil for boosting immunity or managing the immune response, the best method of ingestion is tinctures, taken sublingually.
Capsules are another option for using CBD for your immune system, as they are easy to take, bring with you, and they are discrete. This is great for anyone who travels a lot or who doesn’t want to taste the flavor of the oil.
If you currently have any serious health conditions or are taking certain medications, you should always speak to your doctor or physician first. You are also encouraged to do your research on the use, dosage, and different methods of ingestion.
- Ewa Kozela, Ana Juknat, Nathali Kaushansky, Neta Rimmerman, Avraham Ben-Nun, Zvi Vogel. Cannabinoids Decrease the Th17 Inflammatory Autoimmune Phenotype . Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology , 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s11481-013-9493-1 
- Katz, D., Katz, I., Porat‐Katz, B. S., & Shoenfeld, Y. (2017). Medical cannabis: Another piece in the mosaic of autoimmunity?. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 101(2), 230-238.
- Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem . 2009;1(7):1333-1349. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93 
- Nichols, J. M., & Kaplan, B. L. (2020). Immune responses are regulated by cannabidiol. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 5(1), 12-31. 
- Tong-Rong Jan, Shu-Ting Su, Hsin-Ying Wu, Mei-Hsiu Liao, Suppressive effects of cannabidiol on antigen-specific antibody production and functional activity of splenocytes in ovalbumin-sensitized BALB/c mice, International Immunopharmacology, Volume 7, Issue 6, 2007, Pages 773-780, ISSN 1567-5769,
- Hongbo Li, Weimin Kong, Christina R. Chambers, Daohai Yu, Doina Ganea, Ronald F. Tuma, Sara Jane Ward, The non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) attenuates pro-inflammatory mediators, T cell infiltration, and thermal sensitivity following spinal cord injury in mice, Cellular Immunology, Volume 329, 2018, Pages 1-9, ISSN 0008-8749
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
Immunity and CBD Oil: Does Cannabidiol Help or Hurt the Immune System?
One of the most complicated things to understand about cannabidiol (CBD) oil is its impact on the immune system. Is it positive or negative? Will CBD oil strengthen or weaken your immune system?
There really is no simple answer to this because technically it can do both, depending on the autoimmune condition in question.
Here’s what you need to know to understand whether CBD oil could help or hurt your immune system.
Effects of CBD Oil On The Immune System
To understand whether or not CBD oil can strengthen or weaken the immune system, it is important to understand the basics.
Cannabinoids like CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays a significant role in regulating a wide range of bodily functions and systems, including the immune system.
The immune system, when functioning properly, is what keeps humans healthy and enables the body to fight disease and infection. In healthy immune systems, inflammation is a normal and effective response to bodily threats. In individuals with poorly functioning immune systems, an inflammatory response is triggered far too readily and strongly, which can result in persistent inflammation that often leads to chronic pain in some conditions. Current research points to chronic inflammation as being a common factor in many diseases.
CBD oil may be able to alleviate inflammation, allowing your immune system to function better for you to feel better.
How Does CBD Oil Affect the Human Immune System?
Within the ECS, the cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptor plays a key role in regulating inflammatory immune responses. CBD oil inhibits CB2, which helps regulate inflammation in the body. Additionally, CBD has several indirect anti-inflammatory impacts on the central nervous system, which amplify its therapeutic effects.
For example, cytokines are proteins released by immune cells when the body experiences stress or trauma. These proteins play a role in the initiation and continuation of inflammation in the body. Research has shown that cannabinoids like CBD can disrupt the release of cytokines so effectively that CBD oil may even prevent inflammation before it starts.
CBD oil can also affect the immune system by inhibiting the reuptake of the neurotransmitter adenosine. Through this action, the amount of adenosine in the brain is increased, acting on the A2A adenosine receptors to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
So at this point, it may seem like all the benefits of CBD oil are the result of CBD’s ability to suppress the immune system. However, it isn’t quite that simple: there is evidence that CBD oil can, in some instances, do the opposite and strengthen the immune system to produce other benefits.
Whether CBD oil will strengthen or weaken your immune system will depend heavily on your personal health. Let’s break it down.
How CBD Oil Can Suppress the Immune System
CBD oil may play an integral role in managing autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases include conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, HIV/AIDS, and even Parkinson’s disease. While these diseases are varied in their effects and symptoms, they all have one thing in common: a hyperactive immune system.
Autoimmune diseases are characterized by the immune system overreacting to non-threatening internal events, leading to an attack on perfectly healthy cells within the body. The inflammation that results can cause stiffness, pain, and in some cases, internal organ and tissue damage.
In MS for example, the immune system erroneously targets the central nervous system, causing the body to attack the material that coats nerve fibers, which then creates layers of scar tissue. Eventually, the scar tissue disrupts the ability of these nerves to send and receive signals, resulting in loss of motor function and ultimately paralysis. CBD oil has been shown to improve the experience of MS sufferers, reducing inflammation, stiffness, muscle spasticity, and pain.
Anecdotally, individuals with MS have been using the cannabis plant to manage symptoms. Moreover, recently, Sativex, an oral spray pharmaceutical consisting of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, has been approved in Canada, the United Kingdom, and a handful of European nations, to treat nerve pain and spasticity in MS patients.
Traditionally, medications used to treat autoimmune conditions are immunosuppressive and synthetically created; essentially they work to shut down the immune system. Unfortunately, shutting off the immune system can create additional problems because it leaves individuals more susceptible to infection and illness.
CBD oil, on the other hand, could be a great middle-of-the-road option for those with autoimmune conditions, because it suppresses very specific parts of the immune system without completely turning it off. Also, CBD is naturally occurring and similar to the endocannabinoids produced in the body, making it a gentler treatment option than certain prescription pharmaceuticals. With little to no proven side effects, CBD oil could be something to try if you’re looking to manage the symptoms of an autoimmune disease. Just remember to consult your doctor before trying it out.
How CBD Oil Can Strengthen the Immune System
In contrast to a hyperactive immune system, a weakened immune system is not able to adequately defend the body and fend off infection as it should.
As mentioned above, CBD oil has been found to work as an effective immune suppressor, which is why it’s used to treat inflammation. So how exactly can CBD oil both suppress and strengthen the immune system? While the answer to this question is still being researched, promising progress has been made.
In studies examining CBD’s effect in cancer patients, for whom the immune system is greatly weakened due to the disease as well as treatments for it, results have shown that individuals are better able to fight infection when taking CBD.
In one study, it was found that cannabinoids taken in high doses prompted the body to kill cancer cells through a process known as apoptosis. In a healthy immune system, apoptosis is naturally triggered when infectious cells are detected in the body. The study’s findings are huge considering cancer cells are defined by their ability to avoid apoptosis, which allows them to multiply and spread throughout the body. While the specifics of how cannabinoids elicit this reaction are still being researched, it’s encouraging to know CBD oil may be able to deter cancerous cells when the immune system cannot.
According to the research so far, CBD can address autoimmune disorders by calming a hyperactive immune system, and strengthening a compromised one. Ultimately, CBD oil may help your body find the balance it needs to function optimally.
Best CBD Oils for the Immune System
What you determine to be the best CBD oil for your immune system will depend on a handful of factors like where you live, the condition you are hoping to treat, and your personal preferences.
Before you make any type of cannabis-related purchase, it’s important to know what is legal in your state. If you live in a state where medicinal and recreational cannabis is legal, you may be able to get a full-spectrum CBD oil that contains THC. THC has its own range of potential health benefits that may be able to help with specific autoimmune diseases, but can also cause mind-altering, intoxicating effects. If you live in a more cannabis-restrictive state, you may still be able to use a hemp-derived product without THC, or a CBD isolate.
How you choose to take CBD oil will depend on your preferences and needs. For an autoimmune disease that causes localized chronic pain, like arthritis, a CBD oil topical or transdermal patch will provide targeted, long-lasting relief. If you’re prone to sudden stiffness, cramping, or spasticity, vaping CBD oil will offer the quickest relief.
CBD oil capsules or tinctures/drops are the most common ways to take CBD oil. These products are easy to work into a daily routine, and allow you to feel the benefits of CBD on a consistent, daily basis.
When looking to find the best quality CBD oil, consider brands that test their products in a third-party lab and post the resulting Certificate of Analysis (COA) on their website. If a brand does not post certificates, you should reach out and ask to see them before spending any money. COAs will allow you to understand exactly what is in your CBD oil, giving you a better understanding of the product’s potency and safety.
It is also a good idea to look for an organic product. CBD oil derived from organically grown hemp plants will reduce the likelihood that harmful chemicals or pesticides will end up in the final product. If you’re living with an autoimmune disease, choosing the cleanest CBD products is a must.
And finally, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you start supplementing with CBD oil. While CBD oil has little to no known side effects, it can interact with some commonly prescribed medications. You may wish to consult a specialist cannabis doctor who has an in-depth understanding of CBD oil for medicinal use.