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19 Mar

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Can a Healthy Endocannabinoid System Boost your Immunity?

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and The Immune System

Supporting a healthy immune system is fundamental to deter sickness. While some ailments are hard to avoid, like a cold or the flu, a strong immune system can curb the impact symptoms may have in your body, making it more manageable to handle.

Maintaining a strong immunity should be a priority in our daily living. Exercising regularly, having adequate sleep, staying hydrated, eating fresh fruits and vegetables and frequently washing your hands are all beneficial for strengthening the immune system.

Can a strong and healthy ECS help a strong and healthy immunity? Maybe. Here is why.

The Basics of Immunity

Before going into the Endocannabinoid System in detail and how it might help the immune function, it’s important to have a basic understanding of immunity itself.

One of the major roles of the immune system is to evaluate what’s “good” and what’s “bad” coming into the body. If something “bad” does happen make its way in, the immune system works to destroy whatever it is before it can do lasting damage.

When the immune system is healthy, nasty intruders are kept at bay or repelled before they can truly take a toll. A not-so-healthy immune system doesn’t have the defenses to keep these toxins out nor the strength to fight them off. This is why individuals with a compromised immune system are more at higher risk with the flu and other illnesses

How Does the ECS Support Immune Function?

The ECS is potentially responsible for multiple functions such as mood, memory, sleep, metabolism, appetite, immune function and more.

While research shows that the main functions of the ECS are to support homeostasis, emotional response and mood, cognition and motor function, it’s also suggested that it’s an important modulator of immune function.

Research suggests that Endocannabinoids can modulate the function of a variety of immune cells through the signaling of cannabinoid receptors.

A 2009 study suggests that the effects of cannabinoids on various immune functions tend to be temporary, allowing one to overcome the inhibiting effects of infection when the immune system requires activation.

Researchers suggest that the downregulation of cannabinoid receptor expression when immune cells are activated supports this.

Although the function of cannabinoid receptors on the immune system isn’t completely understood, it’s assumed that endocannabinoid signaling in lymphoid tissues could help control immune cell activation.

What Are the Effects of Endocannabinoids on Immune Function?

Endocannabinoids are thought to be important in maintaining the “fine-tuning” of immune balance and play a key role in immune functions. How exactly?

To start, endocannabinoids modulate the growth and death of certain lymphocytes, which are white blood cells, and also one of the body’s main types of immune cells that work together to defend against viruses and bacteria.

They also modulate inflammatory cytokine production. Cytokines are signaling molecules that are secreted from immune cells and play an integral role in the natural immune response. Interleukins are a type of cytokine responsible for inducing fever, particularly interleukin-1.

Mary Clifton is a New York City cannabis researcher and internal medicine doctor who suggests cannabinoids like CBD should be used regularly to maintain sound health and avoid the symptoms of colds and flu. She says CBD can affect the number of interleukins the body creates.

Considering that endocannabinoids have shown to modulate cytokine production, it makes sense.

A 2003 study highlights that cannabinoids have shown to modulate several immune cell functions in both humans and animals, noting that the endocannabinoid system “might be exploited in future therapies for chronic diseases and immune deficiency.”

Can Supporting the Endocannabinoid System Support Immunity?

It’s clear that the ECS plays a large role in immune function. Does this mean that supporting the ECS can help boost your immunity? It might, but so far there isn’t enough research to say so.

While the way the ECS functions with the immune system isn’t completely understood, the ECS has shown to regulate cytokine production and inhibit immune system overactivity.

With what is known about the ECS and Immunity, maintaining healthy ECS function certainly couldn’t hurt in the pursuit of a stronger immune system.

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