There are many things we know about how marijuana affects the body. But there are many things we do not. For instance, how cannabis interacts with our immune system is one area that researchers have not explored in too much detail. But that doesn’t mean we know nothing about it.
Here are five ways marijuana affects the immune system:
Marijuana is often touted for its anti-inflammatory properties. And while this is good for relieving pain, it’s not necessarily good for your immune system. Your body’s inflammatory response is meant to prevent infection or further damage to the body. So stopping that process could lead to those things happening. However chronic inflammation can also lead to negative problems, such as arthritis. So marijuana’s anti-inflammatory properties can be good or bad.
2. It Can Help or Hurt Your Immune System
If you have a perfectly healthy immune system with no problems, using marijuana will probably suppress your immune system slightly. However, if you have a condition that weakens your immune system (like HIV or AIDS) research has shown that using cannabis can actually strengthen your immune response slightly. There’s probably more research that needs to be done on this particular reaction.
Apoptosis is the process by which the immune system tells diseased cells they should die. Cancer cells essentially ignore this process and keep growing. Some preliminary research has shown that marijuana can increases certain types of apoptosis, and certain types of cancer are more susceptible to cannabinoid-induced apoptosis than others. This isn’t to suggest that smoking marijuana can cure cancer, as some have said. But obviously it’s something that should be studied in greater detail.
We mentioned it earlier, but there’s significant research showing cannabis can help people with HIV and AIDS. Multiple studies have shown HIV or AIDS patients who use marijuana have slightly higher amounts of T-cells, which help fight harmful pathogens in the body. Usually cannabis is given to HIV/AIDS to help treat their pain or stimulate their appetites, but it appears it may help them in other ways too.
5. We Just Don’t Know
Ultimately, there’s simply not a lot we know about marijuana’s affects on the immune system. There simply isn’t enough research dedicated to this area of study. So while it may help it in certain ways, it may hurt it in others. If more researchers devoted time to this, we’d perhaps have a better understanding.