By Hannah Laing, Op-Ed Blogger
What can we do?
I’m sure I don’t have to explain why there is unnerving electricity in the air as we all venture into these uncharted territories together. Pandemics aside, although there are many circumstances beyond our control, there are some things within our realm of power. That’s where we should focus.
What does that have to do with CBD?
I’m sure when thinking about COVID-19 “hemp” is not the first word to come to your mind, but it’s one of mine. With a boom of CBD in the market, there is a plethora of misinformation out there. Hemp based products are not the magical potions that some ads would lead you to believe, but I do think that there are some relevant and less widely discussed potential benefits. What I find to be one of the most impactful reasons that I take 50mgs of the Endoca Raw tincture every morning is how cannabinoids can potentially aid our immune system.
If you haven’t had the chance to meet me you may not know that I, despite my young age, have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. Having an autoimmune disorder, especially with the current global climate, is concerning at best but these are not new concerns. Autoimmune diseases, if you’re unfamiliar with the term (lucky duck) are diseases where your body’s normal defense system triggers abnormal inflammation. This leads to a compromised immune system as well as some good old fashioned chronic pain.
Before my time here at Green Wellness, I used to work at a daycare and all of those snot-nosed kids (I say lovingly, I assure you) tended to get me sick. I was all too aware of my compromised immune system. I wouldn’t just catch a cold from holding Timmy, I would fall gravely ill and often have to sleep through several days to begin to recover. Luckily, I found my home here at Green Wellness and have added a CBD supplement to my routine to avoid those disastrous colds.
How CBD Impacts Your Immune System
It may just be me, but I have a hard time visualizing how taking a pill or swallowing some oil will impact something head to toe, like an immune system. There is a complex cell-signaling system called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that is responsible for the translation of CBD to potential symptom relief. If you have read any of our past blogs, you will know that your CB1 receptors are expressed on cells in the nervous system and our CB2 receptors are expressed on cells in our immune system. Our CB1 and CB2 receptors are what is known as endocannabinoid receptors and they are responsible for the physical processes. Although there is limited research into these two receptors, we know that there is a relationship between cannabinoids, which regulate neurons in the brain and nervous system, and CB2 receptors in the brain impacting one’s immune function. However, both CB1 and CB2 receptors can be found on immune cells. As contradictory as that sounds, there are just a lot more CB2 receptors present and the cannabinoids act on immune cells through the CB2 receptor.
What Really Is Your Immune System?
Before we get into all the ways cannabidiol can benefit your immune system I think it helps to start from the bottom up. Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs intended to keep us safe against bacteria and viruses (antigens). Just like with any group of people, there are some key players that take on more of a leadership role to accomplish the goal. One of those notable players in your immune system is the white blood cells, also known as leukocytes, which function to find and destroy unwanted visitors in your body.
There are two different types of leukocytes in your body: lymphocytes and phagocytes. Lymphocytes, or B cells and T cells, destroy antigens and remind the body of previous attackers. Phagocytes actually absorb and neutralize unwanted foreign invaders.
Our immune system doesn’t just practice stranger danger, it also detects malfunctioning cells inside our bodies and kills them through a process called apoptosis. This is a pretty important job that our immune system performs because if left unharmed, these malfunctioning cells can grow and become tumors, malignant or cancerous. The activation of a CB2 receptor by a cannabinoid can actually trigger the apoptosis of cells. The balance between cell growth and cell death is quintessential to a healthy, happy, and functioning immune system.
Does CBD Aid In That Balance?
That’s the goal, at least. Cannabinoids, in general, act as neutralizers and attempt to bring your body back to homeostasis. That’s why when a CB2 receptor is activated and the malfunctioning cells die, that can create an anti-inflammatory effect. To maintain tissue homeostasis requires both the removal of invaded microbial pathogens as well as the removal of dying cells. Apoptosis is a tool your body uses to kill invaders and dying cells and allows the recycling of those old cell parts. Maintaining a balance for this process that can be immensely beneficial for those with autoimmune disorders. When your body’s defense system is functioning properly, more energy and resources can be allocated to actually fighting antigens and not triggering excessive inflammatory cells. That’s why, according to Project CBD, a new wave of research is starting to point towards cannabinoids as having an adaptive immunomodulating effect, rather than just suppressing overactive immune activity.
I Can’t Stop Stressing
It’s understandable that all of us are under a lot more stress than is typical in early springtime and it’s no secret that stress doesn’t exactly promote good health. There is evidence to show that stress actually obstructs your immune system’s ability to function properly. Luckily for us, CBD may help reduce stress and anxiety. CBD isolate, meaning just the cannabidiol compound, can actually cross the blood-brain barrier to potentially offer mood stabilization and/or anxiety relief. Quinton, one of our bloggers, wrote a whole blog about how you can use CBD to potentially relieve stress if you want to delve deeper into that process and what products we carry that can help. Nonetheless, by reducing strain on your immune system your body is able to more effectively keep you safe and healthy.
I hope that after learning a little bit more about how hemp can potentially be a useful addition to your defense against bacteria and viruses, you have a little more peace of mind. I know that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed and a little too helpless for comfort by our circumstances. From the news to social media to the strangers on the street, the COVID-19 buzz is loud and quite scary for those of us with compromised immune systems. Including CBD into your routine is in no way a substitute for washing your hands, social distancing, and all of the other necessary precautions suggested by the CDC right now. Nevertheless, taking my CBD every morning before I leave the house is one thing I do to protect myself and feel prepared to take on the world that day. Hopefully, Green Wellness can be a part of your defense, too!