Flu Season Is Here — Does CBD Help Your Immune System Cope?
by Deb Powers
Can CBD help your body in getting through the virus season? As flu season rolls around, many people turn to CBD products for immune support. Here’s what we know about how CBD may interact with the immune system.
When Is Flu Season?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flu season in the United States roughly coincides with the fall and winter months. While flu viruses spread year-round, the number of cases usually begins to rise in October, peaking between December and February, and begins to decrease in the spring, though there is often some flu activity as late as May.
The flu can take a major toll on your body. Each year, the fall and winter months are accompanied by an increase in reported cases of “the flu,” an umbrella term used to describe contagious respiratory illnesses that are caused by one of the influenza viruses.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends an annual flu vaccine to help prevent the worst symptoms of the flu, as well as taking precautions to help prevent the spread of flu. In addition, taking steps to strengthen your immune system may help you fight off the flu and other seasonal illnesses.
How Does CBD Influence Immunity?
Before you can understand how CBD has the potential to support your immune system, it’s important to understand what the immune system is, what it does, and how it works.
How the Immune System Works
Unlike the body’s other systems, which are usually associated with one or more major organs — the lungs to the respiratory system, for example, and the heart to the circulatory system — much of your immune system is scattered throughout your body. It encompasses a group of organs and cells that work together to protect our bodies from infection by identifying, targeting, and destroying cells and organisms that pose a threat to our health.
In simple terms, when your immune system detects something in your body that doesn’t belong there — bacteria, a virus, a foreign body — it triggers a series of responses that help isolate and destroy the intruder. Many of these responses are facilitated and managed by the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system that is dispersed throughout your brain and body. The role of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis — the proper balance of conditions in your cells. It plays an important part in many bodily functions, including the way your body reacts to infection and cell damage.
The study of the ECS is still a relatively young field — it was only discovered in the 1990s — so the research into how it actually works is still evolving. However, we do know that the body produces chemicals, enzymes and neurotransmitters that are very similar to the major cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, including cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD. Because of the similarity, the body tends to react to the presence of plant-based cannabinoids — phytocannabinoids — the same way it does to the endocannabinoids that the body itself produces.
CBD and Your Immune System
Scientists are still unlocking exactly how CBD can help the immune system, but they have learned that through the balancing role of the endocannabinoid system, CBD may both suppress your body’s response to illness and activate it when it’s not active enough.
Response to Infections and CBD
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to infection. It happens when the immune system signals the need for certain enzymes to isolate and fight infection. Ideally, once the infection is neutralized, the ECS sends a signal to switch off production of those enzymes and destroy them. If that doesn’t happen, the immune system can become overactive, resulting in a situation where inflammation taxes your immune system and damages your body. CBD as with other cannabinoids may help shift your body back into balance, supporting your body’s natural immune response.
CBD Immune Boost Potential
A healthy immune system is vital to helping you get through flu season, but everyday life takes a toll on your immune system. Stress, pain, and lack of sleep all can reduce your body’s ability to fight off illness. A healthy diet, good hygiene, reducing stress and getting enough sleep can help strengthen your immunity. In addition, CBD may give your body that added boost to ward off those bad germs. Full- spectrum CBD products that contain potent antioxidants and vitamins can be an important part of your toolkit to strengthen your immune system, not only during flu season, but year-round.
Have additional questions?
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Deb Powers is a freelance writer who has been writing about cannabis and general wellness topics for nearly two decades. Her work has appeared in Civilized.Life, and on various industry websites and publications.
- Frontiers in Immunology – Cannabinoids as Key Regulators of Inflammasome Signaling: A Current Perspective
- Centers for Disease Control – Flu Season
- Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research – Immune Responses Regulated by Cannabidiol
- Immunotargets and Therapy – Cannabidiol as a Novel Therapeutic for Immune Modulation