The Endocannabinoid & the Immune System

Vogel, Cannabidiol inhibits pathogenic T cells, decreases spinal microglial activation and ameliorates multiple sclerosis-like disease in C57BL/6 mice. Can cbd really do all that? An inflammatory response acts as the body’s defence mechanism in case of infection or damage. For patients with CIDP, cannabis helps the immune system in the following ways: Research on hallucinogens such as psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, and cannabis are aimed at a multitude of therapeutic targets such as depression, PTSD, and palliative care. Given the duration of large-scale cannabis use by young adults in Western societies, the absence of such epidemics makes it unlikely that cannabis smoking produces major impairments in the immune system.

Interpretations of this literature differ. And at the University of South Florida, researchers working with cells in a lab showed that extremely low concentrations of THC could reduce production of beta amyloid, the protein that forms the plaque abundant in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. The ability of cannabinoids to both suppress and bolster immune function lends credence to the idea that the endocannabinoid system is involved in immunomodulation, as Dr. Research on cannabis use and the immune system is lacking and the study suggests further research is needed to understand the immune related effects of different modes of cannabis use. It has an active ingredient called THC that makes you feel high. Large numbers of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) exist on immune cells, and in the digestive tract, nervous system, brain, and cartilage and joint tissues.

Medical cannabis appears to replace the missing natural cannabinoids, helping to restore balance to the immune system.

CBD has been shown to decrease the activation of proapoptotic proteins, such as caspase-3 and Bax,166 and to counteract the effects of EAE on the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, JNK, and p38 MAP kinases in the CNS of EAE mice. J Neurol Sci (2020) 370: 2020 March; 8(1): This is important because when the immune system is overstimulated, autoimmune diseases and dangerous allergic reactions such as food sensitivities, often occur. Campus queries: how does stress affect your immune system?, the volunteers were also assessed using behavioural measures. Melamede said doctors may be able to take advantage of this effect to curb the risk of death from the immune system overdrive that resulted in many of the deaths of young adults during the 1918 influenza pandemic -- a scenario that some worry could occur once more if swine flu were to become more virulent. This seems to be the case with patients that suffer from cancer or AIDS, where cannabis helps them cope with their symptoms and strengthens their bodies’ response to the disease. Among women, regular marijuana use can disrupt the normal monthly menstrual cycle and inhibit the discharge of eggs from the ovaries.

On top of these factors, the HIV/AIDS patients that used marijuana were consistently healthier than the patients who didn’t. Finally, understanding what receptors are affected helps to understand the underlying mechanisms that cause THC and MDMA to suppress the immune system. Other diseases that are more common in people with type 1 diabetes (for parents). Let us consider two examples, the first of which was introduced in the section on cytokines (IFN-γ). The reason why the self-attack switch is turned on is relatively unknown. For example, multiple sclerosis is an example of an autoimmune disease, in which the cell-mediated immune system is hyper-activated against the individual’s own brain and nervous system—as if it were foreign. In general, immunosuppressive therapy is incredibly expensive and not always effective. This is due to the fact that an overstimulated immune system treats even routine things, such as dust or pollen, as dangerous intruders and releases "false alarms" that tell the body to attack the allergen. Uncertainty about the interaction between cannabinoids and the immune system raises doubts regarding the use of medical cannabis during immunotherapy.

Cannabinoids, immune system and cytokine network.

A Study Has Shown That The Total White Blood Cell Count In Cannabis Users Is Higher Among Heavy Users When Compared To Non-users.

Efficacy and safety of cannabinoid oromucosal spray for multiple sclerosis spasticity. Marijuana can be prescribed for medical uses in more than half of US states, where it is used to combat anxiety, aggression and sleeping problems. They have long been used in medical circles to treat symptoms ranging from pain to inflammation. Mast cells, eosinophil and basophil granulocytes contain messenger substances like histamine and heparin that are immediately secreted upon identification of pathogens. Compounds like MDMA and THC differ in many ways but are similar in their depressive action on the immune system.

  • Inhibition of fatty acid binding proteins elevates brain anandamide levels and produces analgesia.
  • 5 million people in the USA have an autoimmune disease, while cancer affects 13 million in the country.
  • Cannabidiol is particularly potent in this regard.
  • Thus, the concepts to positively modulate eCB tone, to activate CB 2 receptor and to administer certain pCBs has already been suggested in, e.
  • In view of the immunosuppressive effect of THC, the possibility that regular marijuana use could enhance progression of HIV infection itself needs to be considered, although this possibility remains unexplored to date.


CDC twenty four seven. With respect to the “classical” pCBs, beneficial effects of Sativex® (a buccal spray, which contains THC and CBD in a 1: )This inability to perform apoptosis allows the cancer cells to spread rapidly across our body without any resistance from our natural defenses. Our immune system also plays a key role in detecting malfunctioning cells inside our bodies, and, through the process of apoptosis or cell death, ensures that these cells do not continue to grow and become tumors. Given the large number of cannabinoid effects to which tolerance has been shown to develop, it would not be surprising if this were also true of its immunological effects. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry (2020) 87: This causes many painful and debilitating symptoms to occur, including: CD4 cells are a subtype of T-cells, which are the immune system’s killer cells in charge of locating and eliminating pathogens and other malicious microorganisms, including HIV.

146 Taken together with the data described in innate cells above, it is clear that CBD's action in inflammation and immune function involves suppression of cytokine production from many different cell types. These products include edibles, beverages, lozenges, tinctures, skin patches, and topical creams. Yet, despite many exciting discoveries, we still know relatively little, especially when it comes to the interplay between cannabis and the immune system. The activity of the immune system was then evaluated, taking into consideration several important measurements, such as the ability of leukocytes to produce cytokines to mount an antibody response to vaccination or the capacity of macrophage to phagocyte particles. In some people, marijuana can cause anxiety.

119,120 Using peritoneal macrophages from diabetic mice stimulated ex vivo with LPS revealed that macrophages isolated from CBD-treated mice did not produce as much TNF-α or IL-6 as macrophages isolated from vehicle-treated mice. With certain autoimmune disorders, an overactive (or weakened) immune system is often at the root. Another mechanism by which CBD acts is through inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH),65–67 suggesting that some of CBD's effects are mediated by anandamide elevation since FAAH is responsible for the breakdown of anandamide. Cannabinoids and cytochrome P450 interactions. Dysregulation of B lymphocytes can lead to the development of autoimmune disorders, where the immune system improperly attacks targets (Wallace et al. )In fact, many important and widely-used drugs to treat autoimmune diseases suppress immune function, so are a benefit to those with disease, but potentially detrimental if taken by those without disease. Each method might have different effects on immunosuppression due to their THC content.

Cannabis Use And The Immune System

Lou Z-Y, Chen C, He Q, Zhao C-B, Xiao B-G. Thus, an appropriate immune response requires a regulated balance between robust reactions against non-self, but limited or no reactions against self. CBD is popular for its effectiveness as a pain reliever, mostly due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Cannabinoids play a role in suppressing unwanted immune cell activity, and in reducing inflammation that occurs when immune cells respond to an injury. In animal trials, cannabinoids have alleviated symptoms of stroke and traumatic head injuries. The cannabinoid system and immune modulation. Even as early as 2020, statistics indicated that over 27 percent of AIDS/HIV patients were regularly using cannabis to counteract their symptoms. Heteromerization of GPR55 and cannabinoid CB2 receptors modulates signalling.

Anticancer effects of phytocannabinoids used with chemotherapy in leukaemia cells can be improved by altering the sequence of their administration. Nearly all parts of the plant make up marijuana, including the leaves, stem, flowers, and seeds. Innate immunity consists of those responses to foreign substances that do not require sensitisation from previous exposure, such as the ingestion of bacteria by macrophages, and the killing of tumour cells by natural killer cells. Lupus can manifest in the skin, digestive system, joints, and the brain.

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Although, many open questions await to be answered, pharmacological modulation of the (endo)cannabinoid signaling, and restoration of the homeostatic eCB tone of the tissues augur to be very promising future directions in the management of several pathological inflammation-accompanied diseases. Marijuana can also cause more health problems if you have a condition like liver disease, low blood pressure, or diabetes. The endocannabinoid system is home to a vast network of cells that have cannabinoid receptors on them.

The observational nature of the study constrained causal inferences.

By Sarah Russo

Zumbrun EE, Sido JM, Nagarkatti PS, Nagarkatti M. Weak immune system? malaria doesn't care, to prepare people for such a transplant, they must undergo chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy. Sivak KV, Vasin AV, Egorov VV, Tsevtkov VB, Kuzmich NN, Savina VA, et al. Based on research, it looks as if the most promising application of cannabis in regard to the immune system is in helping to treat autoimmune disorders. Epidiolex, a purified form of cannabidiol, is intended to treat seizures and is being tested in an international clinical trial led by the University of California, San Francisco, Epilepsy Center. Importantly, it has been proven that BIA 10-2474 was a very unspecific, promiscuous lipase inhibitor, and that fatal side effects most probably developed due to a complex metabolic dysregulation in the CNS caused by the inhibition of some of its off-targets, which underscores the importance of rigorous preclinical testing of any drug candidates which are planned to be applied in human studies.

128 Interestingly, in the pulmonary inflammation studies with LPS, neutrophil cell counts in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid were also decreased by CBD compared to LPS. Although the effects of the ECS on the human immune system warrant far more study, scientists currently know that targeted cannabinoids are a promising treatment for certain autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, lupus and arthritis. Simplified overview of the endocannabinoid system. Giacoppo S, Pollastro F, Grassi G, Bramanti P, Mazzon E. Gao W, Xiong Y, Li Q, Yang H. For example, people with epilepsy, cancer and HIV frequently use cannabis. THC and CBD should be used together for most disorders treatable by cannabis because they interact with each other and terpenes, maximizing their therapeutic potential in what’s colloquially known as the entourage effect.

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With respect to other infections, it is noteworthy that CBD was recently suggested to be explored as a treatment for individuals suffering from post-Ebola syndrome (159). The sole function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain balance within the numerous different systems that make up an organism. The findings presented in the article were overwhelmingly positive. When you come down from the high, you may feel tired or a bit depressed. Molina,Angela M. While cannabidiol, or CBD, has gained traction as a legitimate alternative medicine in the UK, the psychoactive THC is still outlawed. This is what Dr. CBD (1–16 μM) was shown to induce apoptosis in mouse thymocytes and EL-4 T cells.

This suggests that THC is immunosuppressant. Hollister (1992) has expressed a sceptical attitude towards the human health implications of the literature on the immunological effects of cannabis, arguing that: Cell-specific STORM super-resolution imaging reveals nanoscale organization of cannabinoid signaling. The study was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. Early test-tube studies pointed to this effect, and so has one clinical trial published last October.

Appendino G, Gibbons S, Giana A, Pagani A, Grassi G, Stavri M, et al. (Dax et al, 1989). Gertsch J, Leonti M, Raduner S, Racz I, Chen J-Z, Xie X-Q, et al. Cannabis medicine may also treat symptoms of specific autoimmune diseases like ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's, fibromyalgia, Huntington disease, multiple sclerosis, and others. As outlined above, in the T cell section, in vitro CBD treatment of MOG 35–55 -specific T cells co-cultured with APCs with CBD suppressed IL-17A and IL-6 production, suggesting CBD suppressed TH17 development; however, production of Il10 mRNA was potentiated with CBD treatment, suggesting that CBD may have multiple suppressive mechanisms.

How Might Cannabis Strengthen The Immune System?

Interestingly, the ECS and cannabinoids have been shown to play a key role in “balancing” the various arms and components of the immune system. CBD can induce myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), a type of regulatory cell, in the liver, and this effect is lost in TRPV1 knockout mice. Because they inhibit glutamate, they may also prevent toxic effects that occur after brain trauma, when neurons can get overstimulated by the neurotransmitter. What is the evidence for the role of TRP channels in inflammatory and immune cells?

CBD has been found to modulate the immune system instead of suppressing it. Updated on January 5, 2020. In addition, the celebrated pharmacological properties of cannabis have led thirty-six states to permit its use as a therapeutic drug for, among others, those suffering from AIDS; various painful, incurable and debilitating illnesses; the harmful side effects of cancer chemotherapy, and glaucoma. Cannabis is a plant that can have many different effects on our bodies, depending on our mood or the strain that you consume. There’s another essential factor for a fully functional treatment with cannabis. For example, recent studies in this laboratory have shown that marijuana and its components are markedly immunomodulatory (Blanchard et al. )

Lung Health and Marijuana Smoke

When it comes to using marijuana, new research, involving mice and published in the October 2020 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, suggests that just because you can do it, doesn't mean that you should. That’s the adaptive immune system at work, raising the body’s temperature to kill off foreign bodies and inflaming the mucous membranes as white blood cells get to work at the site of infection. If cannabinoids can help balance the immune system for optimal functionality, it stands to reason that the rates of these adverse affects would be drastically decreased. Considering the above described complexity of the system, it is not surprising that, at least some parts of, the ECS is present in virtually every cell type of the human body, and it was shown to be involved in the regulation of a plethora of physiological processes. However, the little research that has been conducted has been very promising. Unlike the instances of suppressing our organism’s defenses, there are cases where cannabinoids can do the exact opposite—strengthen our immune system. Conventional medicine ideology believes that the immune system cannot be controlled and once the autoimmunity switch has been triggered, it is impossible to revert back to the body's normal state.

Inflammation helps trap and isolate damaged parts of the body, preventing the spread of infection.

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83 Together, these data suggest that TRPV1 is a critical receptor through which CBD acts in the immune system. First, tobacco smoking suppresses both the humoral and cell-mediated immune systems. A number of the earliest studies suggested that T-cells from chronic cannabis users showed a decreased responsiveness to such stimulation, but later studies, including laboratory studies of chronic heavy dosing in humans (e. )Someone with an autoimmune disease may consider cannabinoid therapies for their ability to decrease inflammation, modulate the immune system, and help to bring the system back into balance. As a treatment, cannabinoids can often serve to reduce inflammatory response and provide increased comfort for affected patients. Indeed, eCB signaling was shown to be an important orchestrator of both the innate and adaptive immune responses. Glia (2020) 58: Fortunately, keeping CB 1 modulators out from the CNS can relatively easily be solved by designing peripherally restricted molecules, which cannot penetrate through the blood-brain barrier.

Despite a scarcity of specific human based studies, patients with autoimmune disorders have been able to improve their situation by integrating cannabis medicine into their lifestyle. It is now understood that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce various effects. ‘Studies with repeated measures are needed to study immunomodulatory changes in cannabis users, and whether the mode of cannabis use can differentially affect immune responses. 690-702 (2020). If you’re a long-time user, you can have physical withdrawal symptoms -- like cravings, irritability, sleeplessness, and less appetite -- when you stop. 4 However, it rarely causes problems in people with healthy immune systems. The regulation of B lymphocytes in the immune system is needed for preventing the destruction of tissues, inhibiting of T-reg cells, and signaling to other immune response cells (Sido et al. )

HIV patients participating in this study had higher CD4-cell numbers. Its presence there interests scientists because the immune system triggers inflammation, and studies show marijuana can have an anti-inflammatory effect. 133,134 While these studies are focused primarily on THC and other CB 2 agonists, CBD was also used (1–10 μM) and did not affect IFN-α production. (Acomplia and Zimulti), which was applied as a potent anorexigenic agent for a few years in Europe, but was then retracted from the market (180). Researchers say phytocannabinoids in the plant could postively stimulate the brain, immune system and hormone system to fight back against tumours. As of 2020, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana to some extent. These responses are known as the adaptive and innate immune response mechanisms. Fernandez-Ruiz J, et al.

03–64 μM CBD).


Cancer cells essentially ignore this process and keep growing. Attention, memory and learning are impaired among heavy marijuana users, even after users discontinued its use for at least 24 hours. However, it will take more research to determine once and for all whether or not cannabis consumption causes detrimental effects to the immune system in the long term. Cannabis oil, fresh cannabis flower, and a pink ribbon on a white background. So if you feel a cold coming on this winter, it might not be wise to take this particular medicine. Exogenous stress from work, school, anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression are all sources of chronic stress that can lead to weakened immunity (Liu et al. )

Cannabis & HIV

Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol impairs the inflammatory response to influenza infection: Marijuana-Derived Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol Suppresses Th1/ Th17 Cell-Mediated Delayed-Type Hypersensitivity through microRNA Regulation. 150,151 CBD-induced apoptosis (1–16 μM CBD) in human monocytes was due to a cascade of intracellular events, including opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane potential, oxidation of a lipid in the mitochondrial inner membrane, and mitochondrial ROS generation, leading to cytochrome C release. It is more difficult to exclude the possibility that chronic heavy cannabis use produces minor impairments in immunity. For example, oral THC can cause nausea and vomiting because of the way it’s processed in your liver. Goldstein encourages patients to try various CBD/THC ratios, and to experiment with raw cannabinoids such as THCA and CBDA.

CB2 receptors can be found in numerous parts of the body related to the immune system, including bone marrow, thymus, tonsils and spleen. The review will include an evaluation of the role for various receptors through which CBD acts in the immune system. Not only did marijuna help HIV/AIDS patients gain weight, it also had a positive effect on their immune systems over the course of 21 days. Last year a study discovered certain cannabinoids that enhance the immunogenicity of tumour cells, rendering them more susceptible to recognition by the immune system. The better survival was accompanied by a marked reduction of inflammation in the CNS of THC-treated animals (116).

Many ancient civilizations – from the Chinese to the Greeks – included cannabis in their pharmacopoeia. No matter how you use marijuana, the drug can cause immediate and long-term effects, such as changes in perception and increased heart rate. Whether the response will have a positive or negative impact on our organism depends on several important factors. But recent research takes THC’s role even further, suggesting that it can actually upregulate the immune system, potentially improving patient outcomes.


One study found that marijuana directly affects a type of cell called myeloid-derived suppressor cells, which suppress the immune system’s response in certain situations. An inflammatory response acts as the body’s defence mechanism in case of infection or damage. The concentrated cannabis lozenge was an idea pioneered by Steve Kubby, who, up until two weeks ago, was himself the president and CEO of Cannabis Science. The effects of cannabinoids on hematopoiesis, and immune cell proliferation using animal and cell based models has been widely demonstrated and a number of studies have examined the association of cannabis use and white blood cell counts in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Moreover, another study showed that, besides THC, CBD may also represent a promising novel treatment modality in organ transplantation (63), and administration of certain pCBs appeared to be promising in GVHD, too. Endocannabinoid signaling in innate and adaptive immunity. There is a very small animal, and almost no human, literature on which to make such a decision.

The eyes look red because marijuana causes blood vessels in the eyes to expand. Third, there have been very few epidemiological studies of immune system functioning and disease susceptibility in heavy chronic cannabis users. Mehrez got funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for her research. Bronchitis - Marijuana users may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers have, such as chronic bronchitis and inflamed sinuses. A nutrient rich diet: Grasping the complex interaction between the immune system and cannabis might be complicated at first.