CBD and the Immune System
We rarely pay attention to it, or only when it shows signs of weakness, yet the immune system is the guardian of our health. It defends our body against external attacks: microbes, bacteria, and other pathogens, but also against abnormal cells, even cancerous cells. The immune system plays an essential role in our health. So how to boost your immune system ? And how can CBD help you ?
The immune system
The immune system is a set of surveillance and defense mechanisms that our body puts in place to fight viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc. It works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The immune system is made up of several organs and immune cells :
- Lymph nodes are small pea-sized balls found throughout the body, which contain powerful immune cells, the lymphocytes.
- The spleen is located just below the diaphragm, to the left of the stomach, and also stores lymphocytes, but also monocytes, cells that ensure our defense. In case of infection, it will release all these cells into the bloodstream in response to the aggression of a virus or other pathogens.
- Mucous membranes are the tissues that cover the inner walls of the nose, ears, mouth, intestines, etc. They are the link between the environment and the body. They form the junction between the external and internal environments of the human body. They are a protective barrier between these two environments.
- The bone marrow produces, among other things, the precious white blood cells (leukocytes) that are so important for good immunity.
How is the immune system built ?
When a baby is born, his or her immune system is functioning, but is not yet mature. It will develop in contact with its environment, and its pathogenic elements, such as viruses and bacteria. Several important factors contribute to the strengthening of the immune system:
- At birth, if the delivery takes place by vaginal delivery, the baby will come into contact with the bacteria and viruses that line the mucous membranes of the mother. This event will contribute to the settlement of the newborn's intestine, and therefore to the development of his microbiota.
- Breastfeeding also helps to strengthen the immune system, because breast milk provides antibodies in large numbers.During the diversification of food, when the baby starts to absorb other foods than breast milk, a strong immune reaction occurs. In addition, the microbiota of the intestine will be enriched by these new foods.
- Vaccination will stimulate the immune system, and allow it to fight more easily against certain pathologies.
- The little hurts and illnesses that the child encounters in the first few months of his life will build his immune system. His organism will keep in memory the good answer to bring in case of recontamination.
How to support the immune system ?
The immune system allows you to stay healthy, always alert, it watches over you constantly. But are you watching over it ? Sometimes certain behaviors or habits can have the effect of lowering our defenses, and make us vulnerable to diseases. But some reflexes applied every day can strengthen your immune response :
- Get enough sleep : lack of rest can have a devastating effect on your immunity, and make you vulnerable to infection. Research shows that an adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Eat well : To perform well, you need a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. The industrial food ultra processed is very poor from a nutritional point of view. By eating a variety of unprocessed foods, you put all the chances on your side.
- Be active, even a little : your body is made to move. Studies have shown that a lack of physical activity can contribute to a lowered immune system and an increase in illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Doctors recommend a 30-minute walk every day.
What is CBD ?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a molecule very popular in recent years. It owes its popularity to its numerous therapeutic virtues. Used for thousands of years, it comes from hemp (Cannabis Sativa), and is part of the cannabinoid family. And even if this name is a bit barbaric for most of us, cannabinoids may not be totally unknown to you. Have you ever heard of THC by any chance? THC is in the same family as CBD, and its use is banned in most countries due to its psychotropic effects. THC also comes from cannabis, but not from the same plant. In fact, cannabis represents a family of plants:
- Cannabis Sativa, or industrial hemp, from which CBD oil is made. The CBD (cannabidiol) is found in the flowers of the plant.
- Cannabis Indica : it is cultivated illegally for its richness in THC.
- Cannabis Ruderalis : low in CBD and THC, this plant does not interest many people.
As you can see, cannabis in general suffers unfairly from the recreational use of THC. CBD products are made from hemp (Cannabis Sativa), and do not contain THC, as required by law.
CBD and the endocannabinoid system
Discovered a few years ago, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is present in all mammals. It is a complex system, with a large network of receptors scattered throughout the body. Recent research has shown that it plays a major role in homeostasis. It is therefore involved in the regulation of our various internal systems such as the nervous system, heart, lungs, etc. The SEC, in order to transmit certain signals and regulate our homeostasis, such as our sleep, our mood, our appetite or our production of hormones, will use cannabinoids. Thus, membrane receptors, sensitive to these molecules, have been discovered on the surface of cells. Cannabinoids will cause the emission of biological signals that will lead to effects in the body. Studies have discovered the existence of two types of cannabinoid receptors with significantly different actions:
- CB1 receptors are mainly found in the nervous system, but they are also found in the heart, bones, eyes, muscles, etc.
- The CB2 receptors are largely present in the immune system, and to a lesser extent in the central nervous system. From discovery to discovery, studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system participates in embryonic brain development. But also that it regulates several important functions such as sleep, pain, inflammation, appetite, immunity, stress response, and many others. The endocannabinoid system is now considered by the scientific community to be one of the most important biological systems for human health, as it is responsible for the homeostasis of our body.
So what happens if the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids ?
Dr. Ethan Russo, a renowned neurologist, is one of the world's leading experts on EDC. He is the first to have elaborated the idea that a possible chronic deficiency in endocannabinoids could be the cause of many diseases. Former president of the "International Cannabinoid Research Association", former president of the "International Cannabinoid Medicines Association", and former editor of the "Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics". He is now Medical Director at PHYTECS. He has worked for many years in the medical treatment of chronic pain through the effects of cannabis.
"Researchers believe that the underlying cause of many diseases, particularly those related to the immune system and inflammation, may be a disorder called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency."
Dr. Ethan Russo
So what could be the role of CBD ?
CBD has the unique ability to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. By acting on the SEC, CBD actively participates in the maintenance of homeostasis. By promoting this general balance, it acts favorably on the performance of the immune system. CBD is consumed for its effects:
- Anti-inflammatory : CBD is effective in treating inflammation problems, as shown by several in vivo researches (MECHA, et al. 2013, KOZELA et al. 2013, BUCCELLATO et al. 2011, RIBEIRO et al. 2012). This is why it is very popular with people suffering from inflammation such as patients with certain diseases, or athletes.
- Analgesics : CBD is a natural analgesic, studies have shown that CBD was as effective as a conventional painkiller to relieve pain in the short term.
- Anxiolytics : CBD has anxiolytic effects, and helps combat stress and anxiety. In 2013, a study of 48 patients with anxiety disorders highlighted the anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol, even at low doses.
- Sleep improvement : several researches have shown the ability of CBD to improve sleep, and more exactly its action on the increase of sleep duration and its depth. (2013 CHAGAS et al.)