How Does Weed Affect Your Immune System?

By . Reviewed by Dr Shatha Atiya | June 21, 2022 | ConditionsHealth & Relief

Today, many patients ailing from various health conditions are using weed to alleviate the symptoms of their illness. And most are finding relief in areas where traditional medication failed. Still, while you may not doubt the therapeutic benefits of marijuana, you may be concerned about how weed affects your immune system.

how does weed affect the immune system-does it boost it or weaken it

So, how does weed affect your immune system? Scientific data on the topic is scarce. But, the available data shows that using weed can be a mixed blessing for your immune system. In a nutshell, weed contains chemicals that can modulate the immune system to weaken and boost its function.

This post aims to answer all the lingering questions and paint a clearer picture of how weed affects your immune system.

How does your immune system work without weed?

Before diving into the effects of weed on your immune system, let us take a minute to understand how your immune system works on its own.

Your immune system is a complex and fascinating network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect your body from infection. When an invader, such as a virus, or bacteria, enters your body, your immune system springs into action.

Your white blood cells will help identify the invader and release chemical signals that alert other immune cells to the threat. In response, these cells then spring into action, releasing substances that destroy the invader.

In some cases, the immune system will even produce memory cells that remember the invader in case it tries to attack your body again in the future. This way, your immune system is constantly working to prevent and respond to potential threats.

Marijuana and the immune system

When you consume marijuana, it affects your immune system through a complex cell-signaling structure called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system plays a role in maintaining the balance in your body. And it is involved in many processes such as memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperature, and immune response.

The main compounds in marijuana, THC, and CBD, bind to endocannabinoid receptors, mainly CB1 and CB2, to influence your immune system. The CB2 receptors, in particular, are prevalent in the immune system. Simply put, these endocannabinoid receptors are the bridge connecting marijuana to your immune system.

So, does marijuana lower or strengthen your immune system? A 2021 study by Sanjay B. Maggirwar associated marijuana use with an adverse effect on immune function. Suggesting that it may increase the risk of acquiring or transmitting infections.

However, the same study also noted that THC and CBD could benefit patients affected with diseases that suppress the body’s immune system. Most importantly, the study acknowledged the need for further studies on the effects of marijuana on the immune system. 

Let’s take a closer look at how the cannabinoids CBD and THC affect the immune system.

What does CBD do to your immune system–Does it boost or weaken it?

CBD oil, does it boost or weaken the immune system?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in cannabis plants. And unlike THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects. Proponents of CBD claim that it can help with many health issues, including anxiety, pain, and inflammation. Some people also believe that CBD can boost the immune system. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims.

In truth, existing studies heavily support the notion that CBD suppresses or weakens the immune response. Still, weakening immune response can be beneficial, for example, in reducing inflammation from autoimmune diseases. 

Additionally, CBD appears to inhibit the production of cytokines, which are proteins that play a notable role in the inflammatory response. As a result, CBD may help to reduce the severity of conditions characterized by inflammation.

It is unclear whether the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD translate into a strengthened immune response. And as more research on CBD continues, we may learn more about its effects on the immune system. Most importantly, it is best to consult a doctor before taking CBD, especially if you have a weakened immune system.

Does CBD oil affect the immune system?

CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil. Some people use CBD oil to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Research on humans is still limited, but some studies suggest that CBD may help with anxiety, insomnia, and pain. CBD oil affects the immune system the same way CBD does–by suppressing it.

What is the effect of THC on the immune system?

THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana, and it may have several effects on the immune system. One way that THC affects the immune system is by binding to cannabinoid receptors. When THC binds to these receptors, it can alter how the immune system responds to infections and other threats. For example, THC may suppress the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses or bacteria. Additionally, THC may reduce inflammation and help to control pain. While some of these effects may be beneficial, others may increase susceptibility to infections or other health problems. Therefore, while THC may benefit the immune system, seeking expert advice is necessary.

Cannabis for autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. The most common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. Some patients with autoimmune disorders have found cannabis beneficial in treating symptoms such as pain, inflammation, nausea, and fatigue. Additionally, cannabis can improve sleep and lift mood, which can be helpful for people dealing with the chronic stress of an autoimmune disease.

weed buds in a jar, what are the best strains for autoimmune disease?

Best strains for autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a frustratingly complex issue, and finding the best strains can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. The best strains for autoimmune diseases should help reduce inflammation, improve joint function, and increase energy levels. Some of the best-known strains that do this include:

  1. Ginger Ale
  2. CBD Blue Shark
  3. ACDC
  4. Harlequin
  5. Charlotte’s Web
  6. Grape God
  7. Sour Diesel
  8. Cannatonic

Also, it is worth noting that smoking weed may not be the best method of consumption if you are ailing from a debilitating condition.

Benefits of not smoking weed

someone lighting a weed joint; what are the benefits of not smoking weed?

There are some benefits to smoking weed, but there are also several potential drawbacks. For instance, smoking can damage the lungs and respiratory system plus weaken the immune system. 

If you’re worried about the potential risks of smoking weed, there are other safer ways to consume it. For example, you can eat edibles or drink marijuana-infused tea. You can also use a vaporizer to inhale the active ingredients in cannabis without dealing with the harmful effects of smoke. 

Weigh the pros and cons of smoking weed vs edibles.

Get your medical marijuana card

Throughout this post, we have stressed the importance of consulting with an expert medical marijuana doctor before starting a cannabis regimen to improve your health. An MMJ doctor will not only advise you on whether medicinal cannabis could be beneficial for your health, but they can also certify you for a medical marijuana card in your state.

With a med card, you can lawfully buy high-quality medicinal cannabis. And in some states, an MMJ card lets you grow cannabis for personal use. As a result, you can grow high-yield autoflowering seeds at home for improved quick harvests and cut your dispensary costs.

Quick Med Cards links patients to caring, knowledgeable, and experienced medical marijuana doctors in the following states at a pocket-friendly cost. Additionally, we facilitate online consultations via video calls meaning you can get your med card from the comfort of your home.

Common questions about how weed affects your immune system

Below are answers to common questions you may have on how weed affects your immune system.

Can smoking weed cause swollen lymph nodes?

While there is little evidence to suggest that smoking weed can cause swollen lymph nodes, it is not uncommon. Lymph nodes are small, round pockets of tissue found throughout the body. They help to filter out toxins and fight infection. When they become swollen, it is usually a sign that the body is fighting something off, such as an infection. 

Smoking weed can irritate your lungs and cause inflammation, thus leading to swollen lymph nodes. It may be a reach, but if you consistently notice swollen lymph nodes after smoking weed, it is best to see a doctor to rule out any other potential causes.

Can you be immune to edibles?

For first-time users of edibles, it can be a confusing and even frustrating experience. Edibles can take a while to kick in, and many people think they are immune to the effects when they don’t feel anything immediately. However, the outcome of edibles can be very different from other forms of marijuana. They can last much longer and be more intense, so it’s essential to be patient and wait for the full effects to kick in. If you consume too much too soon, you may experience an overwhelming feeling that can be pretty unpleasant. So take your time, start with a small dose, and enjoy the ride.

Does CBD help with the flu?

While there is still much research to be done, some small studies suggest that CBD may help alleviate the severity of flu symptoms. This assumption is based on the ability of CBD to reduce inflammation and improve lung function. Still, there are no well-documented cases of people using CBD oil to treat the flu.

Does weed help with colds?

There is no concrete evidence that weed helps with colds, but some people believe it does. Some think it can help thin mucus, making it easier to cough up, while others claim it can reduce inflammation in the airways. Others believe that weed can boost the immune system and make it easier to fight off a cold. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, smoking weed may make cold symptoms worse by irritating the lungs and increasing mucus production. So, if you’re wondering whether weed helps with colds, the answer is probably not.

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Cortney Bennett

Cortney Bennett is a pharmacist at I49 Seed Bank, with 5+ years in the pharmacy field regarding cannabis. Cortney constantly upgrades her knowledge and skills in the weed industry. She has learned the characteristics of the different marijuana types and their effects on the human body in detail. Her constant thirst for knowledge allows her to stay up to date with all the latest research and discoveries in the cannabis field.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.