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Hemp and the immune system – hemp compounds exert an interesting impact on the immune system. Though we aren’t sure exactly how hemp compounds affect the immune system, we know it has to do with the way the endocannabinoid system (ECS) controls cellular communication.
To be clear, the ECS consists of a series of cannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Healthy bodies produce endogenous cannabinoids on demand when the body experiences physical or emotional stress. Of course, to maintain balance this way, the ECS must influence many different body systems, including the immune system.
Unfortunately, bodies cannot always produce or metabolize endocannabinoids at an appropriate rate. As such, some experts speculate that consuming phytocannabinoids like CBD could help correct this imbalance. In doing, CBD may help modulate the immune system by regulating inflammation and other immune responses.
How the Immune System Functions
The immune system includes a network of organs, cells, and tissues working together to protect the body from foreign substances. This vital system works tirelessly to ward off viruses, bacteria, disease, and infection to help maintain health and longevity. It is also responsible for inducing apoptosis, or cell death, to prevent defective cells from multiplying and spreading.
Notably, the immune system may also attack foreign substances like transplant organs, or even healthy cells in the case of autoimmune diseases. Fortunately, as an immune system modulator, CBD may be able to address these issues, as well.
How CBD Affects the Immune System
There are five ways CBD may help boost immune system functioning: by increasing natural killer cells, improving gut health, minimizing inflammation, lowering stress levels, and modulating immune system activity. These combined qualities suggest that CBD can both activate the immune system and dull it depending on what the body needs at any given moment.
CBD and Natural Killer Cells
Natural killer cells are those that attack and kill foreign or dysfunctional cells. People with autoimmune disorders often have overactive killer cells, which prompt the body to attack and expel healthy cells. Interestingly, research suggests that CBD may help tame overactive killer cells in people with autoimmune disorders. On the other hand, CBD may also stimulate killer cell activity in people without autoimmune disorders. Essentially, CBD seems to regulate both over-and under-active immune responses as it works to maintain balance within the body.
CBD for Gut Health
The gastrointestinal system plays a major role in one’s overall health. Most people know that the GI system controls metabolism, but may not realize that it also produces neurotransmitters and regulates physiological and cognitive functions, as well. It does all of this thanks to a collection of microbes, or a collection of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live in the GI tract. An imbalance in microbes, which is called dysbiosis, can cause significant health problems.
Fortunately, CBD may help improve gut health and regulate microbiome levels. Essentially, CBD may reduce inflammation caused by an imbalanced microbiome, thereby improving the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
CBD and Inflammation
Inflammation occurs throughout the entire body, not just the GI tract. For example, one study found that CBD reduces lung inflammation in rats, while another study found that CBD reduced arthritis-related inflammation. In doing, CBD may help reduce inflammation-related pain and improve lung functions.
CBD for Stress
Persistent stress can dampen immune system functioning. Specifically, chronic stress can cause the body to produce excessive levels of cortisol, which reduces natural anti-inflammatory actions. Fortunately, CBD might help reduce stress and subdue panic responses in some situations.
CBD as an Immunosuppressive
Autoimmune diseases are those in which an overactive immune system attacks healthy cells, organs, and tissues. This can cause certain body parts to weaken, which may be life-threatening in some cases. The most common autoimmune disorders include Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Interestingly, some research suggests that CBD may help tame an overactive immune system through its proposed anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive qualities.
Closing Thoughts on Hemp and the Immune System
CBD is a fascinating element, and we are only beginning to understand its potential. Though research is still young, we are learning that CBD may help promote a healthy immune system by regulating its functions and easing inflammatory responses.
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