For CBD and the immune system, this article covers four ways in which CBD oil may support immune health
The endocannabinoid system is known to play an important role in regulating immunity and scientists consider it to be one of the “gatekeepers” of the immune system.1 The endocannabinoid system includes receptors known as cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) as well as the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and enzymes that influence the production of these endocannabinoids.
There’s scientific evidence that cells of the immune system express both CB1 and CB2, although CB2 concentrations are higher than CB1.2
How CBD and the immune system interact
Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of Cannabis sativa, is a phytocannabinoid that acts on the endocannabinoid system and may have the ability to maintain a balanced and healthy immune system.*
Transient receptor potential vanilloid 2 (TRPV2), a protein that facilitates the communication of cells with their extracellular environment, plays an important role in healthy immune system function.3 CBD activates TRPV2 and also influences other transient receptor potential (TRP) channels involved in supporting immunity.3*
Hemp-based CBD oil may have both direct and indirect mechanisms for maintaining immunity.* This article covers four ways in which pairing CBD and the immune system may support immune health.
Increasing natural killer cells*
In animal studies investigating autoimmune health, CBD oil from hemp has been shown to balance the immune system by reducing the activity of T cells, B cells, and both T helper and T cytotoxic lymphocyte subsets.4* However, outside of an autoimmune arena, CBD supports the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell.4*
NK cells are a major player in the body’s response to the presence of viruses.* CBD also supports the activity of natural killer T cells, which share properties of both NK cells and T cells.* In vitro studies have shown CBD has actions of interest to people who want to maintain immune health in the liver.5*
Supporting a healthy inflammatory response*
CBD is well known for its ability to maintain a healthy inflammatory response.* In animals, CBD supports a healthy inflammatory response in the lungs.6* It also improves lung function in mice exposed to a lung irritant.*
In one study, CBD enhanced markers of healthy lungs such as decreased total lung resistance and elastance, leukocyte migration into the lungs, myeloperoxidase activity in the lung tissue, and protein concentration as well as maintenance of healthy levels of cytokines (TNF and IL-6) and chemokines (MCP-1 and MIP-2).* This could potentially assist with respiratory function.*
Maintaining a healthy gut microbiota*
A large proportion of the immune system is located in the GI tract, where there are large numbers of organized lymphoid tissue and scattered innate and adaptive effector cells.7
The gut microbiota, the collection of organisms — good and bad — found in the intestines play an important role in helping the body have a balanced immune response.8
Excessive inflammation in the gut can lead to intestinal permeability, gut microbiota dysbiosis, and an impaired intestinal immune response.9,10 One way the body counteracts this is through the endocannabinoid system. 9,10
Like endogenous cannabinoids, CBD also has been found to support a healthy intestinal inflammatory response in human trials.11* The key message here is that keeping the gut healthy supports overall immunity.*
A calming effect during everyday mild stress and frustration*
Ongoing psychological stress is linked to a decline in immunity.12 CBD is involved in a healthy stress response.*
Unlike endogenous cannabinoids, which work on the CB1 receptor, CBD supplementation leads to direct activation of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor.*13,14 CBD stress-relieving properties are also related to its ability to modulate cerebral blood flow in brain regions involved in anxiety including the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus and cingulate cortex.15*
In human trials, CBD was found to reduce mild stress in people giving a speech.* For example, researchers observed the effects of different doses of CBD and placebo in 57 healthy male participants performing a simulated public speaking test.16* In this double-blind study, subjects were given oral CBD at doses of 150 mg, 300 mg, or 600 mg or a placebo prior to the public speaking test. Compared with the placebo, 300 mg of CBD led to the subjects being more calm and relaxed during the speech.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
CHRIS D. MELETIS, ND, is an educator, international author and lecturer. His mission is “Changing World’s Health, One Person at a Time.” He believes that when people become educated about their bodies is the moment positive change begins. He is widely recognized as a world-renowned expert on the science of CBD and has authored 16 books and over 200 national scientific articles in such journals and magazines as Natural Health, Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Life Extension and The Journal of Restorative Medicine. He served as dean of naturopathic medicine and chief medical officer for seven years at NUNM, the oldest naturopathic medical school in North America. He has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Physician of the Year Award by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians; Excellence Award for his work in treating and advocating for the medically underserved; and most recently, the NUNM Hall of Fame Award. He represents TruGen3 and can be contacted at DrMeletis.com. “TruEase® is an ideal choice for people searching for a phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil. It’s encapsulated in VESIsorb®’s patented delivery system to optimize absorption. It uses a proprietary extraction process that eliminates solvents and impurities to produce non-detectible THC content. Clinically, I depend on bioavailability for my patients, and per a 2019 article, VESIsorb® CBD after a single oral administration of the SEDDS CBD led to 4.4-fold higher blood plasma levels of CBD compared to the control CBD formula.”17
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- Booz GW. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Sep 1;51(5):1054-61.
- Pumroy RA, Samanta A, Liu Y, et al. Molecular mechanism of TRPV2 channel modulation by cannabidiol. Elife. 2019 Sep 30;8. pii: e48792.
- Ignatowska-Jankowska B, Jankowski M, Glac W, Swiergel AH. Cannabidiol-induced lymphopenia does not involve NKT and NK cells. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Oct;60 Suppl 3:99-103.
- Lowe HI, Toyang NJ, McLaughlin W. Potential of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. Pharmacognosy Res. 2017 Jan-Mar;9(1):116-8.
- Ribeiro A, Almeida VI, Costola-de-Souza C, et al. Cannabidiol improves lung function and inflammation in mice submitted to LPS-induced acute lung injury. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2015 Feb;37(1):35-41.
- Mowat, A., Agace, W. Regional specialization within the intestinal immune system. Nat Rev Immunol 14, 667-685 (2014).
- Wu HJ, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012 Jan 1; 3(1): 4-14.
- Hornby PJ, Prouty SM. Involvement of cannabinoid receptors in gut motility and visceral perception. Br J Pharmacol. 2004 Apr;141(8):1335-45.
- Cani PD, Plovier H, Van Hul M, et al. Endocannabinoids–at the crossroads between the gut microbiota and host metabolism. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2016 Mar;12(3):133-43.
- Irving PM, Iqbal T, Nwokolo C, et al. A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Parallel-group, Pilot Study of Cannabidiol-rich Botanical Extract in the Symptomatic Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2018 Mar 19;24(4):714-24.
- Segerstrom SC, Miller GE. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004 Jul;130(4):601-30.
- Crippa JA, Derenusson GN, Ferrari TB, et al. Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. J Psychopharmacol. 2011 Jan;25(1):121-30.
- Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016 Fall;20(4):16-005.
- Soares VP, Campos AC. Evidences for the Anti-panic Actions of Cannabidiol. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2017;15(2):291-9.
- Linares IM, Zuardi-AW, Pereira LC, et al. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. Braz J Psychiatry. 2019 Jan-Feb;41(1):9-14.
- Knaub K, et al. A Novel Self-Emulsifying Drug Delivery System (SEDDS) Based on VESIsorb® Formulation Technology Improving the Oral Bioavailability of Cannabidiol in Healthy Subjects. Molecules. 2019 Aug 16;24(16):pii: E2967.