This article was originally published by Tess Pennington on her website Ready Nutrition.
With the potential for disruptions to our medical system and access to medicines, many people have begun stocking up on over-the-counter medicines and vitamins known to provide support for the body’s immune system including Lomatium, zinc, immune-boosting herbs, and full-spectrum CBD oil.
In recent weeks Ready Nutrition has received a number of inquiries about the immune-boosting properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) and whether its immune-boosting capabilities can provide protection against the novel COVID19 coronavirus.
First and foremost, it is important to note that researchers around the world are actively working on anti-viral treatment options and vaccines to mitigate or cure the effects of this dangerous and highly infectious virus. At this time there are no known traditional, integrated or alternative medicine treatments for COVID19. As of this writing, there is no medical or clinical evidence that indicates CBD can treat, mitigate, cure or prevent COVID19 infections or infections from other strains of Coronavirus.
That being said, with the potential for disruptions to our medical system and access to medicines, many people have begun stocking up on over-the-counter medicines and vitamins known to provide support for the body’s immune system. Lomatium, zinc, immune-boosting herbs and full-spectrum CBD oil are among some of the alternative medicines that have grown in popularity as people concerned with their health and safety shelter in place during home quarantines.
There is a wide body of clinical studies to support the use of these alternative medicines as immune system boosters.
In the case of Cannabidiol (CBD), not only has it been shown to be effective as an immune-boosting therapeutic due to its anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating properties, it is well known for a variety of other health benefits including:
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Better sleep
- Relief of pain and migraines
- and Improved Mood
What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
CBD is one of several key Phyto compounds found in cannabis hemp. But unlike its well-known counterpart tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC), it does not produce a psychoactive effect or feeling of getting “high.”
Cannabidiol’s effects are believed to be the result of how this compound acts directly on receptors and neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, many of which are responsible for everything from stress and pain management to immune-boosting anti-inflammatory effects and gastrointestinal processes.
CBD is extracted directly from hemp in high concentrations, along with several other cannabinoids like Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN) and naturally occurring plant terpenes. All of these compounds working together result in what has been referred to as the “entourage effect,” which is believed to be responsible for many of the health benefits associated with taking CBD oil.
How can CBD boost the body’s immune system?
The body has a variety of internal systems designed to perform specific functions. When ingested or inhaled in vaporizer form, Cannabidiol has been shown to act directly on the endocannabinoid system or ECS.
Within this system, the body produces endocannabinoids, which are essentially the signaling compounds that travel across chemical synapses to modulate cell activity. It is believed that the ECS is a homeostatic regulator that helps the body to maintain biological balance.
It makes sense then, that when you introduce naturally occurring plant-based cannabinoids like CBD into the body, it will have a direct action on the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Some of the physiological processes regulated by the ECS include inflammation and immune function, both of which are closely related. The mechanism of action identified with CBD (Cannabidiol) indicates that it acts directly on a key CB2 receptor within the ECS, which may explain why researchers have identified this Phyto-compound as an anti-inflammatory with immune-boosting benefits.
In one recent clinical study researchers from the University of Quebec’s Heart and Lung Institute found that the endocannabinoid system plays an immunomodulatory role and that the endocannabinoid system’s CB2 receptor was shown to modulate immune cell functions. Researchers concluded that activation of this CB2 receptor “usually decreases inflammatory cell activation” and that “therapeutic strategies aiming at modulating CB2 signaling could be promising for the treatment of various inflammatory conditions.”
Symptoms for many health concerns including pneumonia, HIV, and pain are partly the result of inflammation, and while directly targeting the CB2 receptors in the body may not permanently treat these conditions, it may help to provide some relief to those suffering from their effects.
The mechanism of action for the relief that results from activating CB2 receptors is not yet fully understood, but research scientists have made some headway in recent years. In a study from the University of Michigan, researchers identified several immuno-modulating effects of CBD and showed that its effects on the CB2 receptor resulted in a variety of immune-boosting properties in test subjects, including that CBD possesses immunosuppressive action. In a follow-up study, the research identified that the introduction of CBD into the body affects cytokine production and inhibits T-cell function.
The immune-boosting benefits of CBD are best summed up by Dr. Wai Liu, a London-based researcher:
“I suspect that cannabinoids are having a double-punch effect of one, direct killing, and two, enhancing immunity by suppressing those immune cells that serve to hold back the immune-based killing cells.”
What kind of CBD should I take?
There are several types of CBD oils available, and various methods for introducing CBD into the body.
CBD oil is the most popular because it is ingestible, has a high bio-availability and makes it easy to measure daily dosage levels.
Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Full Spectrum CBD Oil is extracted in such a way that it maintains a complete cannabinoid profile. This means that when taking a full spectrum blend you receive the benefits of all of the additional cannabinoids and plant terpenes from the hemp plant to produce an enhanced “entourage effect” resulting from the synergistic action of these compounds on various receptors and neurotransmitters that are part of the endocannabinoid system.
Of note is that full-spectrum CBD oil contains very small levels of the well-known cannabinoid THC. In the United States, recent changes to CBD laws make it legal for CBD to be shipped and possessed in all 50 states so long as it complies with federal regulations requiring that THC levels are below 0.3% THC.
Pure CBD Isolate (No THC)
A pure CBD isolate blend of CBD oil differs from full-spectrum blends in that the pure isolates are just that: pure CBD. There are no additional cannabinoids or terpenes found in blends made from a pure CBD isolate, as all of those additional compounds have been extracted, leaving only 99% pure CBD.
Researchers are actively studying the many health benefits of CBD and have found some novel applications for this compound in health and medicine, including its immune-boosting properties.
CBD should not be used to treat or cure diseases like Coronavirus COVID19 that target our immune system or other health conditions.
However, like several vitamins, herbs, and nutrients, it does have immune system boosting properties that may be of benefit during cold and flu season, as well as to help relieve the symptoms often associated with immune system-related sickness.