The impact of cannabis on the immune and inflammatory response is a controversial topic. Some say it weakens immune function while others claim it boosts it.
It’s a debate that has been going on for years. However, recent studies indicate that frequent cannabis use does not necessarily weaken the immune system.
Suppresses the Immune System
The immune system is an amazing defense mechanism that keeps us healthy, but it can also cause problems if it overreacts to certain things. This is where cannabis comes in, as it can reduce inflammation and balance the immune system.
Inflammation is the body’s response to a wide range of factors, including infection, trauma, aging, and even poor diet and exercise. It’s a natural process that protects the body from disease, but when it starts to interfere with our ability to heal, the result can be extreme pain and debilitating conditions like cancer or autoimmune diseases.
But the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis aren’t just good news for chronic pain sufferers and those with autoimmune diseases. The herb can also improve the lives of those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, as it has been shown to boost their immune response.
Studies conducted at the beginning of the century had suggested that cannabis is an immunosuppressive agent, but in 2011 researchers published a paper that for the first time argued against this. The study found that THC increases the production of T-cells killer cells, which are crucial to fighting infections. It also suppresses cytokines and chemokines, which are the proteins that cause inflammation.
Research suggests that the body’s own endocannabinoid system, through CB1 and CB2 receptors, is responsible for these effects. Moreover, the two major cannabinoids in cannabis, CBD and THC, have different effects on the immune system.
The endocannabinoid system is considered a key gatekeeper for the immune system, regulating the activity of the many different types of immune cells. These include T-cells, B-cells and natural killer cells (NK).
A review from 2020 found that CBD suppresses some inflammatory responses in the immune system and induces cellular death in other immune cells. This anti-inflammatory effect is beneficial, as it can control cytokine storms that are common in people with COVID-19 or those with autoimmune disease.
However, regular cannabis use over a long period of time is associated with decreased white blood cell functionality and may negatively affect immune system health. Additionally, it can decrease levels of natural killer cells that help limit the spread of tumors and microbial infections.
Increases Lung and Respiratory Infections
Inhaled cannabis can increase your risk of respiratory infections by suppressing the immune system, reducing lung function, and increasing your susceptibility to infection. This can happen if you have a weakened immune system or have a chronic condition that reduces your body’s ability to fight off infections, or if you are taking medicines that suppress your immune system (such as chemotherapy).
Inhaling marijuana smoke can also increase the likelihood of developing bronchitis and pneumonia in people who smoke cannabis frequently. This is because the smoke is full of toxins that can damage airways and make them more difficult to breathe. The risk of developing these conditions depends on how often you smoke and the quality of your weed.
Smoking a small amount of marijuana does not cause significant changes to the large airways, but smoking more than a few joints can be detrimental to your health. This is because marijuana smoke contains more than just toxins; it also introduces mold to your airways that can increase your risk of developing respiratory problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
It’s important to remember that these risks can be reduced if you choose to smoke a strain with low levels of THC and other harmful substances. It’s also important to choose a strain that is cultivated properly so that it does not contain any harmful by-products such as mold or pesticides.
Many people find that using a vaporizer to smoke cannabis is safer than smoking tobacco. This is because vaping does not distribute toxins as much as smoking cigarettes or other flammable materials, which means that your lung health is less likely to be affected by toxic chemicals when you use a vaporizer.
But while a vaporizer is less harmful than cigarette smoking, it still introduces toxins to the lungs, including nicotine and tar. It can be especially dangerous for people with asthma, chronic bronchitis, or other respiratory issues.
Inhaled cannabis can increase your risk of bacterial pneumonia because it weakens your immune system and decreases the number of white blood cells that are responsible for fighting off infections. It can also increase the number of bacteria that cause pneumonia, such as pneumococci. In addition, it can increase your risk of ear and sinus infections, which can also be caused by pneumonia.
Suppresses the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of chemicals that regulate the body’s internal functions. These include sleep, hunger, pain, anxiety, nausea and energy metabolism. In addition, it regulates immune function and balances many other bodily processes.
The ECS is made up of a series of endocannabinoids that are produced by your body and two types of receptors that respond to those endocannabinoids. These receptors are found throughout your body, including the brain, organs, connective tissue, glands and immune cells.
Scientists have discovered that the endocannabinoid system is essential to homeostasis, a biological term meaning the tendency of the body to maintain a stable condition of equilibrium within itself even in response to external changes. As a result, a number of health conditions are linked to an endocannabinoid deficiency, which is why it is crucial to have a strong endocannabinoid system.
One of the most prominent functions of the endocannabinoid and cannabinoid systems is the ability to regulate your body’s inflammatory responses. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or disease, but it can also be harmful if left unchecked.
Specifically, endocannabinoids, which include 2-AG and anandamide, inhibit inflammatory responses by regulating your immune system’s production of certain molecules. These can include tumor necrosis factor-
When these endocannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors, the ECS activates the cellular pathways that are responsible for a range of physiological effects, including pain relief. The endocannabinoids then release their effects via enzymes that break them down once they have completed their job.
The enzymes that break down endocannabinoids include fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol acid lipase. The fatty acid amide hydrolase breaks down AEA, while the monoacylglycerol acid lipase breaks down 2-AG.
In addition to regulating your inflammatory response, the endocannabinoid systems of the body play an important role in your energy levels and mood. It also helps regulate your digestion and sleep patterns.
While a healthy endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in your health, the good news is that you can help improve its performance by consuming a diet that contains a moderate amount of omega-3 fatty acids and reducing your intake of omega-6 fatty acids. In particular, eating a variety of unprocessed animal foods, seafood, and omega-3-enriched eggs can strengthen the endocannabinoid function of your body. Additionally, a regular intake of tea, such as Camellia sinensis, can further increase your endocannabinoid level.
In most cases, inflammation is a protective mechanism that helps our bodies fight off foreign invaders. However, some diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease do it in an exaggerated manner, and this can be bad news.
The good old fashioned immune system does a fine job of fighting off pathogens, but it’s also responsible for detecting and destroying dead or abnormal cells. In this respect, the immune system is a bit like the brakes on a car.
Fortunately, cannabis can help keep your system running smoothly. Specifically, the drug interacts with your immune system’s CB2 receptor, a major player in the battle to control immune response and inflammation. Activating the CB2 molecule has some exciting therapeutic implications, and it is the most important of all the cannabinoids your body produces.
There are several ways to go about this, from smoking it to taking it sublingually. The most popular is the latter, and the benefits are numerous. Some of the main benefits include reducing inflammation, relieving pain and alleviating stress. The most common side effects are drowsiness, nausea and a loss of appetite.
The best way to determine which type of marijuana will suit you best is to consult a doctor or pharmacist who can recommend the right strain and dosage for your needs.