The immune system is the most important line of defense of the human body. The complex system of many cells, tissues, and organs is responsible for protecting the health of the human body. Throughout our lives, our body is subjected to a variety of ‘attacks’ by bacteria, viruses and by other pathogens. In the fight against them, the role of the immune system is crucial. The word ‘immunity’ means defense. With the help of the immune system, the human body can distinguish between its own and the intruder substances. The ‘alien’ substances are attacked by the immune system and destroyed over time. The following article highlights the importance of the immune system and its protection, support, you can read about the types of immunity, and the effects of CBD (cannabidiol) on the immune system.
Types of Immunity
There are two main types of immunity: innate immunity and acquired immunity. There are significant differences between the two. Innate immunity develops during the fetal stage. These genetically determined abilities include the phagocytic ability of white blood cells, the ability pf gastric juice to kill the bacteria, the mucous membranes of the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary tract and the respiratory tract, and the presence of bacterial chemicals in saliva. Unlike the acquired immunity, they do not require learning to develop, the body does not meet the pathogen to acquire protection.
The acquired immunity can be of two kinds: natural and artificial. Natural immunity develops upon encounter with a specific pathogen, in which case the immune system is activated and instantly attacks the intruder. If it manages to overcome the disease, the immune system remembers the pathogen and the attacking antibody, so in the case of recurrence, the illness will be almost asymptomatic. Artificially acquired immunity plays a prominent role. Certain illnesses can trick the immune system, or because of their severity, the human body is unable to overcome them. This is the case when it comes to vaccinations. At the time of vaccination, a weakened pathogen gets into the body, which is easily defeated by the immune system, and can effectively protect itself against the pathogen in the event of subsequent infection.
The Support of the Immune System
The immune system is a very complex and well-functioning system, but like any other, it also needs support sometimes. We can do a lot to contribute to the proper functioning of our immune system with various immune-support dietary supplements. According to the latest research, a Hungarian researcher may find out how the immune system can be activated: if Máté Manczinger succeeds, he can even get a Nobel Prize for the discovery, but more importantly, we will be able to get rid of all illnesses.
The so-called MHC molecules play an important role in the functioning of the immune system, which bind and present the molecules that characterize us to the immune system. This step is essential to overcome pathogens and overcome autoimmune diseases. Researchers can classify MHC molecules into two groups: there are those that can bind a few molecules (specialist), while others can bind a large number of different molecules (generalist). Interestingly, generalist MHC molecules occur in areas where many infectious diseases are present. These molecules bind several molecules of pathogens; therefore, they can be more effective against several diseases.
CBD and the Immune System
At first, it is not easy to understand the complex relationship between the immune system and cannabis, but after getting to know some important facts, it becomes crystal clear. To understand the effect of CBD on the immune system, we first need to examine the mechanism of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which we have described in detail in another article.
Cannabinoids affect the immune system in a complex way: they can suppress and strengthen it. The suppression of the immune system is achieved by reducing inflammation (1). Although inflammation is a perfectly normal bodily reaction, if the body meets the pathogen, there are cases where suppression of the immune response is essential for healing. These include – among others – migraine headache, anxiety, mood swings, arthritis, sleep disorder, and gum inflammation.
However, there are also examples when cannabinoids do not suppress but rather strengthen the immune system. This effect is mainly observed in cancer and HIV infected patients. Chemical compounds derived from cannabis are capable of inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells (2). HIV attacks the immune system and limits its function, so the body is unable to withstand various infections. According to a study in 2015, the proportion of virus in patients taking cannabis was much lower than those who did not use cannabis as an additional treatment (3).
The consumption of CBD products can undoubtedly help to overcome many diseases that attack the immune system, but it is important to take into account that each person’s body reacts differently, and therefore the therapy varies from person to person.
(1) Prakash Nagarkatti, Rupal Pandey, Sadiye Amcaoglu Rieder, Venkatesh L Hegde, and Mitzi Nagarkatti; Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs; October 2009; 1333–1349
(2) Daniel J. Hermanson and Lawrence J. Marnett; Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids and Cancer; December 2011; 599–612
(3) April D. Thames, Zanjbeel Mahmood, Alison C. Burggren, Ahoo Karimian, Taylor Kuhn; Combined Effects of HIV and Marijuana Use on Neurocognitive Functioning and Immune Status; May 2016; 628–632
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