CBD for the Immune System

It's no surprise that the past two years have heightened global awareness of health and wellness.  A major focus has been on measures that can be undertaken to protect us from illness, including prevention and treatment opportunities.  One potential alternative that shows promise is Cannabidiol or CBD.  But does CBD suppress the immune system?  Can it boost a weakened immune system?  Or maybe both?  And while it's too early to say whether CBD might offer hope as a preventative or treatment therapy for COVID-19 or other immune challenges, emerging data shows much promise for this natural therapeutic option.  Before exploring ways in which CBD may offer benefits, however, we must start from a basic understanding of the immune system and desirable immune health.

What is the immune system?

The immune system is a large and complex network of organs, white blood cells, proteins (antibodies) and chemicals. The components of this system work together to protect from foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, chemicals, toxins) that may cause infection, illness, and disease.

Many agents and conditions can affect and/or disrupt optimal functioning of the immune system, including medications, disease, disorders, stress, allergies, diet, and exercise.  While more studies are needed, there exists growing evidence that CBD may be immune-modulating, meaning that it can bring an over-reacting or under-reacting immune system back into balance, calming a hyperactive immune system in instances of autoimmune disorders, as well as strengthening a compromised immune system under attack by invaders such as viruses, stress, and toxins. [1]

But how does CBD work? 

CBD (cannabidiol) is one of at least 100 chemical compounds unique to the cannabis sativa or hemp plant.  These compounds are referred to as cannabinoids. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid most commonly associated with marijuana.  However, unlike THC, CBD is non psychoactive and has been shown to offer a myriad of wellness benefits without the "high" effect of THC.  An ever-increasing number of health studies and growing experiential evidence show that CBD may be helpful in promoting calm, relieving inflammation, and supporting the musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, nervous, and immune systems, among other useful applications.  Adding to these benefits, CBD is considered to be non habit-forming and well tolerated, making it a desirable supplement choice.

The Endocannabinoid System

Cannabinoids are naturally effective in our bodies because, throughout our evolutionary development, we have been hardwired to gain the benefits of the cannabis sativa plant through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex signaling network within the mammalian body that functions as a lock and key mechanism when cannabinoids are present or introduced into the bloodstream. These receptors exist throughout the body -- nervous, musculoskeletal, digestive, immune, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, and other systems -- and are the reason why cannabinoids can have such diverse and profound effects. [2]  All mammals, including humans and companion animals, have an ECS, and the body produces "endo" (internal) cannabinoids (naturally occurring substances such as anandamide) that operate to keep the body's systems in balance. [3] However, when an external force such as injury, illness, or stress is introduced, our body's own endocannabinoids may be depleted, resulting in an interruption to homeostasis that can manifest as anxiety, pain, inflammation, sleep disturbance, compromised immune function, and more.  CBD and related "phyto" (plant) cannabinoids are natural compounds that can supplement the body's own cannabinoids and lock into our cannabinoid receptors to address the imbalance and restore homeostasis. [4]  In addition, research suggests that CBD may also interact in potentially beneficial ways with other neurotransmitter systems and receptors that address stress and support normal levels of other "feel good" brain chemicals such as serotonin. [5] [6].  One additional important way that CBD may support immune health is its ability to maintain a healthy inflammatory response, thereby providing an essential boost to the respiratory and digestive systems. [7] [8]

CBD and the Immune System

In a recently published article entitled "Immune Responses Regulated by Cannabidiol", the authors reviewed the science relating to the effects and mechanisms of CBD in the immune system, specifically in autoimmune models.

"Considering all the studies on immune responses and inflammation, the data overwhelmingly demonstrates that CBD is immune suppressive and anti-inflammatory. . .The immunosuppressive and neuroprotective mechanism of CBD make it an ideal therapeutic candidate for MS, a neurodegenerative autoimmune disease of the CNS that affects approximately 2.5 million people worldwide." [9]

The authors go on to state that, while much of the data support the fact that CBD is immune suppressive and anti-inflammatory, there have been reports over the years that CBD has produced immune enhancing effects.  Calling for increased studies on the effects of CBD in human and veterinary immune responses, the authors recommend well-controlled studies considering differences with administration routes, dosages, and pharmacokinetics.

What about CBD and COVID-19?

(The following is excerpted from a recently published article entitled "Opportunities, Challenges and Pitfalls of Using Cannabidiol as an Adjuvant Drug in COVID-19".) [10]

"This article presents a review of a number of studies (pre-clinical and clinical) regarding advantages and disadvantages of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-toxicating phytocannabinoid from the cannabis plant, as a potential agent for the treatment of COVID-19.

Numerous pre-clinical findings and reviews regarding the potential use of CBD in COVID-19 treatment suggest that CBD has beneficial anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects, which can be expected to improve the systemic symptoms that are characteristic of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Additional benefits may be expected due to the neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anti-emetic, anti-convulsant, antinociceptive (analgesic), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties noted with CBD."

Read entire article [HERE]

Again, the authors stressed the importance of further clinical studies to clarify and substantiate beneficial observations and to broaden our understanding of the true therapeutic potential of CBD against COVID-19.  One of the studies relating to CBD and COVID-19 examined by the authors is summarized below.

"Cannabidiol inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication through induction of the host ER stress and innate immune responses [11]

CBD has a number of advantages as a potential preventative agent against SARS-CoV-2. CBD as a food additive with THC content less than 0.3% is widely available without restricted access. With proper formulation, quality control, and delivery, CBD could be used prophylactically in contrast to recent antiviral drugs. Multiple means of CBD ingestion are possible, including potential for inhalation and nasal delivery. CBD blocks viral replication after entry into cells and thus is likely to be effective against viral variants with mutant spike proteins. Unlike drugs such as remdesivir or antiviral antibodies, CBD administration does not require injection in hospital settings. Last, CBD is associated with only minor side effects.

However, several issues require close examination before CBD can be considered further or even explored as a therapeutic lead for COVID-19 (12). Although many CBD and CBD-containing products are available on the market, they vary vastly in quality, CBD content, and their pharmacokinetic properties after oral administration, which are mostly unknown. 

Future studies to explore the optimal means of CBD delivery to patients along with clinical trials will be needed to further evaluate the promise of CBD as a therapeutic to block SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our animal studies provide preclinical support for evaluation of CBD as an anti–SARS-CoV-2 therapeutic agent in clinical trials. We advocate carefully designed placebo-controlled clinical trials with known concentrations and highly characterized formulations to define CBD’s role in preventing and treating early SARS-CoV-2 infection. The necessary human in vivo concentration and optimal route and formulation remain to be defined. We strongly caution against the temptation to take CBD in presently available formulations including edibles, inhalants, or topicals as a preventative or treatment therapy at this time, especially without the knowledge of a rigorous randomized clinical trial with this natural product."

Conclusions About CBD and the Immune System

What seems to be emerging is a growing awareness that CBD may play a significant therapeutic role in regulating and supporting the immune system.  What is also clear is that CBD is not yet proven to be a preventative or treatment therapy for COVID-19 or other specific immune challenges.  More clinical studies are necessary, and many are underway.  Notwithstanding that data gap, the growing body of evidence offering scientific support for CBD's anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, neuroprotective, and immunomodulating properties is encouraging and underscores the importance of CBD for overall health and wellness.

What CBD product should I choose?

In an industry that’s largely unregulated, many prominent companies have taken it upon themselves to self-impose quality control and testing standards.  Most companies that take this step will be happy to share their Certificates of Analysis (CoA) with consumers.  If an online manufacturer or a retail store doesn’t have the information, or refuses to share it, it is best to avoid that product and the retailer.

At Trove, we are proud of what goes into our CBD hemp products.  So we offer full transparency of our analytics process.  We test every batch of our CBD for potency, purity, and quality.  This ensures our final products do not contain any detectable amount of THC.  Additionally, we screen for the presence of any undesirable cannabinoids, bacteria, yeast, mold, residual solvents (VOC), pesticides, and heavy metals.  Dose accuracy is vital to the efficacy of any health supplement. We perform regular lot testing on our entire product line to verify cannabinoid content and concentration so that you know exactly what you are buying.

To take this process a step further and close the gap between manufacturer and consumer, Trove places a label with a QR code on the bottom of every CBD product they make.  This code can be scanned with any smartphone and will link directly to Trove’s website where we’ve made the CoA from every batch we’ve produced available to the public. 

Why is this important?  Due to the nature of the industry boom that has taken place with CBD, it’s hard to know who the legitimate manufacturers are.  And without packaging and labeling standards, it may be difficult to know how much, if any, CBD is really in your product.  Furthermore, the product you may be looking at online or on the retailer’s shelf may contain trace amounts of THC, which is still a controlled substance and may bring unwanted effects or compromise a drug test.  It is important to know that the products you purchase are safe and legal.

For immune support as well as overall improved health and wellness, choose a product with demonstrated transparency and testing, known ingredients, concentrations, and dosage/administration instructions.  We suggest:

Trove CBD Oil 750 taken under the tongue or on food or beverage once or twice daily helps provide systemic relief from inflammation and stress, supporting the immune, musculoskeletal, digestive, and nervous systems.

  • Infused with THC-free hemp-derived CBD in organic MCT coconut oil in choice of natural or with essential oil of lemon or peppermint to enhance therapeutic benefits and deliver exceptional flavor
  • 25 mg CBD per 1 mL dropper (750 mg CBD per 30 mL bottle)
  • THC free, non GMO, gluten free

Trove CBD Capsules 25 one capsule taken once or twice daily helps provide systemic relief from inflammation and stress, supporting the immune, musculoskeletal, digestive, and nervous systems.

  • Contains THC-free hemp-derived CBD plus organic MCT powder in a convenient capsule form
  • 25 mg CBD per capsule
  • THC free, non GMO, gluten free


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Carter All rights reserved

[1]          https://doi.org/10.2147/ITT.S263690/

[2]          Lutz, B et al.  The endocannabinoid system in guarding against fear, anxiety and stress. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015;16(12): 705-718.

[3]          Hillard, CJ. Stress regulates endocannabinoid-CB1 receptor signaling. Seminars in immunology,     26(5), 2014, 380-388.

[4]          Bluet, RJ et al. Central anandamide deficiency predicts stress-induced anxiety: behavioral          reversal through endocannabinoid augmentation. Translational Psychiatry (2014) vol 4, e408.

[5]          Bedse, Guarav et al. Therapeutic endocannabinoid augmentation for mood and anxiety disorders: comparative profiling of FAAH, MAGI, and dual inhibitors. Translational Psychiatry        (2018) vol 8, 1 92.

[6]          https//:www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6161644/

[7]          Almeida VI, Costola-de-Souza C, et al.  Cannabidiol improves lung function and inflammation in               mice submitted to LPS-induced acute lung injury.  Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 2015 Feb;371 (1):35-41.

[8]          Irving PM, Iqbal T, Nwokolo C et al.  A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Parallel-       group, Pilot Study of Cannabidiol-rich Botanical Extract in the Symptomatic Treatment of          Ulcerative Colitis.  Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2018 Mar 19;24(4):714-24.

[9]          https://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7173676

[10]        https://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7922403

[11]        https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abi6110