Does CBD Regulate Immunity?

Can CBD help boost the immune system? If that were to be the case, it would mean that CBD has the potentiality to prevent disease and contribute to overall health and well-being. Various forms of Cannabis Sativa have been used for thousands of years as overall healing agents, but does modern science also support the claim that CBD has a boosting effect on the immune system?

Recent scientific research suggests that one of the nervous system’s cannabinoid receptors, known as cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) plays an important role in regulating the immune system. According to a study titled Unraveling the complexities of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) immune regulation in health and disease1, “[i]t has become clear that the endocannabinoid system is a potent regulator of immune responses, with the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) as the key component due to its high expression by all immune subtypes.” The authors go on to relate the significance of proper regulation of the immune system by stating that “the extent of immune cell proliferation needs to be tightly regulated since over expansion of cells can contribute to chronic inflammation and autoimmunity, while too few immune cells results in immunodeficiency.”

Many internet sources make the claim that the largely non-psychoactive nature of CBD causes this cannabinoid to have a minimal effect on CB2 receptors. However, according to another study, titled The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin2, it may rather be the case that we just do not fully understand the effect of CBD on CB2 receptors. Early research into CBD found that it did not have a direct binding effect with CB2 receptors, but, according to this study, CBD may simply have a more complex effect on CB2 receptors than just binding with them. According to the study, CBD may have an ‘inverse agonism’ effect on CB2 receptors. I have to admit that I don’t quite understand what that means, but if CBD has a beneficial effect on CB2 receptors, and if CB2 receptors are in fact key to regulating proper functioning of the immune system, there is certainly plenty of room for further study of this subject.

Now that we are clear that, while it appears that CBD may have a beneficial effect on the immune system via the CB2 receptors, that there is a lack of concrete knowledge regarding the relationship between CBD and CB2 receptors, it is worth noting some of the scientific evidence regarding the effects of cannabinoids in general on the healthy functioning of the immune system. While the jury is still out, so to speak, on exactly how CBD affects CB2 receptors, it appears widely recognized within the medical science field that CB2 receptors do play an important role in immune regulation. Just to be clear, it is highly evidenced that CBD does have an effect on the healthy functioning of the immune system in general, it is just not quite clear whether this effect is a result of interaction with CB2 receptors.

A scientific article on the beneficial effects of cannabinoids in general titled Cannabinoids in health and disease3 goes into some detail on the subject. To give an idea of the full spectrum of potential health benefits of CBD, the author states that “[n]umerous diseases, such as anorexia, emesis, pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disorders (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease), epilepsy, glaucoma, osteoporosis, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, obesity, and metabolic syndrome-related disorders, to name just a few, are being treated or have the potential to be treated by cannabinoid agonists/antagonists/cannabinoid-related compounds.” That’s quite an impressive list!

A study titled Effects of Cannabinoids on T-cell Function and Resistance to Infection4 has this to say on the effects of cannabinoids on the immune system: “An emerging area of investigation that is reviewed is evidence to support the conclusion that CB2 selective agonists are a new class of immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory compounds that may have exceptional beneficial effects in a variety of conditions, such as autoimmune diseases and graft rejection, where it is desirable to dampen the immune response without psychoactive effects.” Cannabinoids may help prevent graft rejection? Fascinating. I didn’t know that before reading this study.

It is a generally accepted fact in contemporary medical science that stress has a negative effect on immunity. Therefore, in pursuing our question of “does CBD boost the immune system?”, it would make sense to take a moment to consider the stress-fighting aspects of CBD as indicated by scientific study.

The first study pertinent to this line of inquiry is titled Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders5. In this study, the researchers investigated the potential effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on reducing stress and anxiety. The authors found that “[o]verall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.”

It certainly appears that there is at least some credibility to the notion that CBD can reduce stress and anxiety. But how exactly is stress tied to the functioning of the immune system? In a study titled Psychoneuroimmunology: stress effects on pathogenesis and immunity during infection6, the authors focused exclusively on the relationship between stress and immunity and came up with the following intriguing conclusion: “The function of the immune system is critical in the mammalian response to infectious disease. A growing body of evidence identifies stress as a cofactor in infectious disease susceptibility and outcomes. It has been suggested that effects of stress on the immune system may mediate the relationship between stress and infectious disease.”

The two studies together compellingly suggest that, by reducing stress, CBD may have the potential to boost the immune system and help protect against disease.

While we still do not understand everything in regards to how, specifically, CBD helps regulate and boost the immune system, it appears clear according to the scientific data that CBD does improve overall health and well-being by reducing stress and providing other beneficial effects which allow the immune system to operate with greater functionality, protecting us from disease. The literature again and again points to CBD’s profound anti-inflammatory effects, which, whether the issue in question is arthritis, or anxiety, or anything in-between, help mitigate disadvantageous conditions in the body and promote general well-being. While the mechanics of how exactly CBD accomplishes this are indeed fascinating, it is important to not lose sight of the bigger picture, which is that, regardless of the specific mechanics, CBD appears to have an overall beneficial effect on health no matter what it is being used for. Based on the evidence, it would appear safe to say that CBD has something to offer for everybody, regardless of whether they are chronic pain sufferers, cancer patients, or simply want to boost their health. At Liberty Lotion, we will continue to do our best to stay abreast of the research as it emerges, and provide you with the highest quality CBD information and highest quality CBD products available.