The Cannigma reports…
Cannabis interacts directly with a system in our body that helps regulate our immune responses and we know that it can be helpful in treating auto-immune diseases. It is not necessarily as helpful when it comes to fending off viruses and other pathogens, however.
What cannabis does to the body
Chemicals in the cannabis plant like THC and CBD, called, cannabinoids, interact directly with the body’s endocannabinoid system. These chemicals mimic natural chemicals the body produces, all of which can trigger a wide variety of effects on functions like sleep, hunger, pain and mood.
Part of the endocannabinoid system’s role is to maintain homeostasis or balance of the immune system. While the literature contains some contradictions on how exactly that works, it is generally considered a “gate-keeper” of the immune system — preventing it from causing overwhelming inflammatory responses.
Suppressing the immune system may make cannabinoids helpful in conditions where immune responses turn against the patient’s own body. Indeed, many autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes, have already been tied to dysregulation in the endocannabinoid system.
Still, in cases of infection from pathogens, researchers warn that these immunosuppressive effects could be problematic — suppressing the body’s natural and needed immune responses.
Research on cannabis for immune health
While our theoretical understanding of the endocannabinoid system suggests that cannabis could suppress important immune responses, thereby increasing our susceptibility to infectious diseases, the research actually presents a more complex picture.
Beyond treating autoimmune conditions, suppressing immune responses can in some other situations be desirable when dealing with certain infections. When under attack from an infection our bodies sometimes go into sepsis — producing a systemic inflammatory response that can lead to death. Reducing this response could be live-saving.