Does Cannabis Affect Your Immune System?

By Isabella Wilson

Have you ever stopped to consider what cannabis does to your immune system? You might find the answer intriguing. We’ve written this article, and others like it, so you can know more about the effects of cannabis and get rid of the common misconceptions about marijuana.

The Endocannabinoid System

The sites in the brain and body where cannabis is absorbed are called cannabinoid receptors. When you link all of them together, it’s what is known as the cannabinoid system, or the ECS for short. Research suggests that cannabinoids can help the ECS function at optimal levels.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Simply put, cannabinoids are the chemical compounds of the cannabis plant. They have been used extensively to treat symptoms such as pain and inflammation. They are gaining notoriety for their positive effects on the immune system.

Cannabinoid receptors have a specific function in the brain and body. They can help regulate your moods, appetite, memory and overall health. More importantly, they can also affect the overall function of the immune system. This is often referred by scientists as “immuno-cannabinoid” modulation.

Medical Cannabis has been shown to be effective for combating many symptoms

Medical Cannabis has been shown to be effective for combating many symptoms

Cannabis and the Immune System

The active components of cannabis are known to be immune-modulators. They can tap into the immune system and alter its effects. For example, when you get a cut or strain a muscle, the immune system causes swelling to the area. Cannabis can suppress this system and basically tell it to calm down.

Inflammation and the Immune System

You see, when our bodies get infected by a virus or bacteria, the body’s natural response is inflammation. This helps trap and isolate the damaged parts of the body. It also prevents the spread of infection.

However, sometimes the response goes crazy and becomes too inflamed. Recent research indicates that chronic inflammation is the source of:

●      Depression

●      Anxiety

●      Asthma

●      Arthritis

●      Allergies

●      Obesity

As a powerful anti-inflammatory, cannabis has been found to be useful for those suffering from health problems related to high levels of inflammation.

Autoimmune Disease

This is when inflammation prompts the body to attack itself. In these disorders, the immune system strikes the body’s organs, causes pain and can even lead to death.  These affect up to 50 million Americans and there over 80 varieties of them. Some of them are:

●      Type 1 diabetes

●      Rheumatoid arthritis

●      Systemic lupus erythematosus

●      Celiac disease (sprue)

●      Inflammatory bowel diseases

Cannabis Boosts Immune Function

Research has found that the targeted use of cannabinoids can help boost the immune system.

●      Cannabis vs Inflammation - Recent research suggests that cannabis can help reduce inflammatory responses in patients. It has also been shown to play a critical role in helping conditions such as strokes and head injury.

●      Cannabis vs Cancer - Early studies indicate that cannabis compounds can help kill off cancer cells. It triggers the self-destruct part of the immune response that tells a diseased cell to live or die.

●      Cannabis vs AIDS/HIV - These autoimmune diseases hijack the immune system and suppress it. This means that the body can’t fight off infection anymore. Preliminary research indicates that cannabis may actually improve immune function in patients with this disease.

●      Cannabis vs Diabetes Type 2 - The properties of cannabis can help improve the body’s metabolism and support insulin activity.

●      Cannabis Vs Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) -  Recent research suggests that cannabis helps support healthy gut activity.

●      Cannabis vs Fibromyalgia - Patients using cannabis experienced a reduction in pain after using CBD-rich cannabis.

●      Cannabis vs Celiac Disease - The compound THC helps to slow down the digestion and movement of food in the digestive tract while CBD helps against autoimmune attacks on the small intestine caused by gluten.

Purchase Cannabis Legally

From state to state and between Canada and the United States purchasing cannabis legally differs, be sure to check out local laws.

From state to state and between Canada and the United States purchasing cannabis legally differs, be sure to check out local laws.

There are many variables to take into consideration when using cannabis to treat the immune system. Each strain has its own different properties and effects. Each delivery method has its own pros and cons.

This is why it’s so important to obtain your cannabis from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries (alternatively in Canada patients can opt to purchase from a federally Licensed Producer)! They will have advisors on hand who can advise you on the right strain to use, what dose to take and how to consume it.


We hope you found this article useful. Did you know about all of the effects of cannabis on the immune system? Are there any that we missed or you’d like to know more about?  Let us know in the comments!

Oh, and don’t keep this information to yourself. Be sure to share this with your family and friends!

About the Author

Isabella Wilson is a marketing specialist at Essence Cannabis Dispensary with a primary focus on development and implementation of marketing ideas. Her main talking points are medical and recreational marijuana, marijuana marketing and advertising.