Cannabis’ medical benefits range from the psychological to the physical. Patients report relief from ailments as different as depression and lower back pain. Did you know that cannabis can also act on the body’s own immune system response? This could possibly even work against painful autoimmune conditions!
Let’s learn about cannabis and the immune system to get a better understanding of how this potent medicine interacts with the body’s natural defenses.
What Is the Immune System?
The immune system is what allows humans to move through the world without succumbing to infection. It consists of cells and tissues that communicate with one another to identify and control foreign bodies that might enter the body.
The visible portion of the immune system is called the innate defense system. This includes the skin as well as the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, ears, and mouth. These frontline defenders block and filter out pathogens and damaging bacteria.
Less visible is the adaptive defense system. This a more specialized portion that goes after threats that have worked their way into the body. Organs in the adaptive immune system include the spleen (in the abdomen) and the thymus (in the chest, just in front of the heart). Both of these produce disease-fighting white blood cells. Marrow, the tissue inside bones, also plays an important role in generating these cells.
You know the feverish, ache-y feeling you can develop when you first catch a cold? That’s the adaptive immune system at work, raising the body’s temperature to kill off foreign bodies as white blood cells get to work at the site of infection.
For the most part, these uncomfortable side effects of an immune response are a small price to pay in exchange for the defense they provide. In some cases, though, the immune system may be unable to distinguish between external dangers and the body’s own cells and processes.
Such reactions result in what we call “autoimmune” diseases. These include sickle cell disease, lupus, and intestinal disorders like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Now, let’s take a look at how cannabis and the immune system interact with one another — and how THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids might offer some hope.
Cannabis and the Immune System
The endocannabinoid system (or ECS) is the network of neuroreceptors that process the chemical compounds in cannabis. They ultimately causing the consumer to feel “high,” relaxed, hungry, or sleepy.
It may also regulate immune response.
The cannabinoids in whole-plant cannabis can decrease immune-related inflammatory responses by suppressing signaling proteins called cytokines. This can help minimize discomfort due to a triggered immune system. Suppressing these cytokines may also reduce dangerous neurological inflammation that the immune system may introduce in the case of a stroke.
Not all cannabinoids come from cannabis. Anandaminde, the “bliss molecule,” occurs naturally in the human body. There is evidence to suggest that it can heal irritated tissue in the stomachs of mice. This may hold some promise for those afflicted by digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
Whether you’re looking for cannabis to boost your immune system or to simply incorporate into your wellness regiment, come visit our Oakland dispensary. Our in-store Experience Guides are eager to help! Already know what you want? Use our online dispensary menu to order now!