COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, and scientists have yet to develop a cure. One of the best ways to protect yourself against it and many other diseases is to maintain a healthy immune system.
Now experts are looking into cannabidiol (CBD) as a potential remedy that can promote immunity.
Immune boosters against coronavirus
People alike are stocking up on over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and vitamins that support the body’s immune system. This includes vitamin C and zinc supplements, immune-boosting herbs and full-spectrum CBD oil.
These natural medicines have become more popular as the public is now more concerned with their health and immunity, especially since a strong immune system is one the best defenses against the infection.
Several studies suggest that these natural cures are effective at promoting immunity.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids in marijuana (Cannabis sativa).
Research has found that CBD is an effective immune-boosting therapeutic agent due to its anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating properties.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, can make you feel “high.” THC is often associated with marijuana, but unlike the former, CBD is not psychoactive, which makes it a popular choice for patients who want to naturally relieve pain and other symptoms of certain conditions without the mind-altering effects of marijuana or other pharmaceutical drugs.
Experts posit that CBD’s effects are due to how the compound acts directly on receptors and neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, most of which control bodily processes such as stress and pain management, and gastrointestinal processes.
CBD is extracted from hemp, together with several other cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) and naturally occurring plant terpenes. These compounds work together to provide the “entourage effect,” which is said to be responsible for many of the health benefits of CBD oil. (Related: 6 Natural ways to strengthen the immune system amid the coronavirus outbreak.)
CBD for the immune system
The body has several internal systems with specific functions, and ingesting or inhaling CBD in vaporized form acts directly on the endocannabinoid system or ECS.
Within the ECS, your body produces endocannabinoids, which signal compounds that travel across chemical synapses to modulate cell activity. ECS is said to function as a homeostatic regulator that helps your body maintain biological balance.
This implies that introducing naturally occurring plant-based cannabinoids like CBD into your body could directly affect the ECS.
The ECS regulates physiological processes such as inflammation and immune function, which are closely related. The mechanism of action identified with CBD suggests that it acts directly on a key CB2 receptor within the ECS, which may explain why scientists believe this phytochemical has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits.
According to a clinical study conducted by researchers from the University of Quebec’s Heart and Lung Institute, the endocannabinoid system has an immunomodulatory role and that the ECS’ CB2 receptor helps modulate immune cell functions.
The scientists noted that activation of this CB2 receptor decreases inflammatory cell activation and that “therapeutic strategies aiming at modulating CB2 signaling could be promising for the treatment of various inflammatory conditions.”
The symptoms of several conditions such as pneumonia and HIV are partly due to inflammation. While directly targeting the CB2 receptors in the body won’t permanently treat these health problems, it can offer patients some much-needed relief from these debilitating symptoms.
Researchers are still looking into the mechanism of action for the relief that comes from activating CB2 receptors, but studies have made some relevant discoveries in the last couple of years.
To illustrate, a study conducted by scientists from the University of Michigan established some of the immuno-modulating effects of CBD. Results showed that its effects on the CB2 receptor offer several immune-boosting properties in test subjects, such as CBD having immunosuppressive action.
According to a follow-up study, introducing CBD into the body can influence cytokine production and inhibit T-cell function.
Dr. Wai Liu, a London-based researcher discussed some of the immune-boosting benefits of CBD. Liu noted that cannabinoids have “a double-punch effect” of direct killing and enhancing immunity by suppressing the immune cells that hold back the immune-based killing cells.
Should you take CBD?
There are different types of CBD oils available and several methods for introducing CBD into the body.
CBD oil is common and is ingestible, with a high bioavailability that makes it easy to measure daily dosage levels.
Full-spectrum CBD oil
This means that if you take a full-spectrum blend, you reap the benefits of all the additional cannabinoids and plant terpenes from the hemp plant. You receive an enhanced “entourage effect” because of the synergistic action of these compounds on various receptors and neurotransmitters in your ECS.
It is worth noting that full-spectrum CBD oil contains traces of the cannabinoid THC. In America, recent changes to CBD laws make it legal for CBD to be shipped and possessed in all 50 states if it complies with federal regulations that require THC levels to be below 0.3 percent THC.
Pure CBD isolate (No THC)
Since there are no additional cannabinoids or terpenes in blends made from a pure CBD isolate, this type of CBD only has 99 percent pure CBD. A pure CBD isolate blend is THC-free.
Many studies have looked into the potential uses of CBD as a natural cure for various conditions and the symptoms of health problems like chronic pain and HIV.
While these studies often touch on the immune-boosting properties of CBD, the compound shouldn’t be used as a cure-all for diseases like coronavirus that target your immune system.
But like with natural supplementation, CBD does possess beneficial immune-boosting properties that you can take advantage of during the cold and flu season. You can also use CBD to address the symptoms caused by immune system-related sickness.