We’re all aware of the coronavirus headlines by now. It has civilians on every continent (with the exception of Antarctica) at a crossroads — should we worry or not? Some call it a “global pandemic” while others say it’s a slightly worse case of the flu. Regardless of the coronavirus’ severity, it’s crucial not to panic. Easier said than done, however.
With no readily-available vaccine or treatment, and with so many unknown variables due to the coronavirus’ newness, we’re left with more questions than answers. Now, people are scrambling to find any possible remedy or secret ways to boost their immune system to fight off COVID-19. This begs the question of cannabis’ effect on our immune system. Does regular use make us healthier or more at risk?
Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System
Amazon, Facebook, and other advertising platforms are on a mission to remove ads for fake coronavirus treatments. Please, do not waste your time and money on supposed “cures” with no medical evidence to back them up. Instead, boost your immune system with these all-natural methods.
- Reduce stress levels
- Eat more vegetables
- Hold off on alcohol
- Get enough sleep
- Find time to workout
We often rush for over-the-counter pills and medications when we sense a cold or flu coming on. But really, we need to stop and remind ourselves that a good night’s sleep and a plate of fruits and vegetables can be just as — if not more — effective. Get your sweat on, soak up Vitamin D, and look for an added immunity boost in natural herbs and supplements.
Speaking of supplements, what about cannabis?
Cannabis On The Immune System
The immune system is far more complex than you can imagine. And since we’re not doctors, we’re not going to feed you overly complex medical mumbo jumbo. What we need during this already-anxious time is simplicity, rationality, and logic. The impact of cannabis on the immune systems falls somewhere in the middle with both pros and cons.
The Good News
When a foreign substance enters the immune system, our bodies often overreact and flood the system to fight off the intruder as quickly and powerfully as possible. In turn, this may lead to autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Type 1 Diabetes. Our body tries so hard to do good that it can back-fire in certain individuals. As most of us know by now, cannabis can temporarily reserve this damage as it features anti-inflammatory properties. Cannabis can help the body return to equilibrium.
On the other side of the spectrum, some people experience a reduced bodily reaction to foreign substances. This may eventually lead to HIV/AIDS and a higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19. Though more research is needed, medical professionals believe cannabis can strengthen the immune system by heightening a body’s response to an intruder.
The Not-So-Good News
In most cases, healthy individuals don’t require the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis. Inflammation is actually a positive bodily response “and is beneficial for fighting infection by trapping harmful pathogens and isolating damaged parts of the body,” according to Finding Haven. Many healthy (relative term) individuals have nothing to gain for cannabis when it comes to the coronavirus. It won’t help. It won’t hurt.
According to one study published by Live Science, cannabis increases the production of immune system cells, called myeloid-derived suppressor cells. “While most immune system cells are protective — fighting infections and cancers to keep a person healthy — these cells suppress the immune system, keeping it in check.”
Who Benefits From Cannabis?
There’s not much cannabis can help with if you do not suffer from any underlying diseases or medical conditions. But for those with inflammatory issues, cannabis can be quite effective. At the time of publishing, COVID-19 is linked to 27 US deaths. 90% of these individuals previously suffered from underlying diseases, such as diabetes, and fell into the 60-90 age group. According to The Sun, there are eight underlying health issues that make individuals most vulnerable to COVID-19.
- Heart disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Primary Immunodeficiency
Cannabis And The Lungs
Because COVID-19 falls under the “respiratory disease” category, people with weakened lungs are naturally more vulnerable. Cannabis, in the long run, does have a negative impact on the lungs — but not nearly as severe as cigarettes and nicotine. Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist at the Honor Health medical group in Arizona, says that “since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and often causes pneumonia, having a history of smoking could increase the risk of more severe respiratory distress or pneumonia.”
The Final Note
Even though cannabis may not be the most effective way to ward off COVID-19, there are plenty of other everyday practices you can incorporate to stay as healthy as possible. Stay hydrated, get your sweat on, go to bed at a decent hour, eat your fruits and veggies, and try to keep calm. Stress has a direct impact on your immune system.