I am so excited for you to read my brand new book, The Inflammation Spectrum. You will discover how inflammation is at the core of most common health woes and exists on a continuum: from mild symptoms such as weight gain and fatigue on one end, to hormone imbalance and autoimmune conditions on the other. How you feel is constantly and dynamically being influenced by every meal. Every food you eat is either feeding inflammation or fighting it. Because no one else is you, the foods that work well for someone else may not be right for your body. At heart, The Inflammation Spectrum is about learning to love your body enough to nourish it with delicious, healing foods. Its insightful quizzes and empowering advice will put you on a path toward food freedom and overall healing. Learn more here.
Your body is brilliantly designed to withstand all types of challenges, including injury, stress, pain, and even foreign invaders in the form of germs and microbes. One of the most impressive systems in the body is the inflammatory system, which works with the immune system to prevent small injuries—such as a cut or bruise—from becoming a bigger problem. It does this by producing something called inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation gets a bad rap in the wellness world. But really, inflammation is a lifesaving mechanism that directs healing immune cells and other substances to specific areas of the body. There, it produces symptoms like pain, redness, and swelling that help the body protect itself while it heals. Once the threat has passed, inflammation subsides.
Inflammation becomes damaging when it hangs around too long, becoming chronic. And unfortunately, many aspects of our modern lives—such as the low-nutrient standard American diet, high-stress levels, and lack of sleep—can cause exactly that. This type of constant, low-grade inflammation is one of the uniting factors in just about every health problem in the world, including depression and anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a range of autoimmune diseases. Knowing this, you won’t be surprised to learn that researchers are constantly searching for new therapies that target chronic inflammation and bring the immune system back to a state of balance. I go into a deep dive of inflammation and all the science-backed ways to calm it in my book The Inflammation Spectrum.
Enter: Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the main compounds found in the Cannabis sativa (the scientific name for both marijuana and hemp) plant. CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it won’t get you “high” like other compounds in the cannabis plant—like THC—and displays anti-inflammatory properties that have a lot of people excited and intrigued.
The endocannabinoid system and inflammation
You’ve probably already heard chatter about CBD and it’s many benefits. It’s all the rage in the wellness world and people across the globe are using CBD oil for inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, arthritis, and IBS with a considerable amount of success.
So how are CBD and inflammation connected? It all comes back to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a large system with the main job of maintaining homeostasis, also referred to as “balance,” in the body. The ECS is intricately involved in the stress response, pain response, and—you guessed it—the inflammatory response as well.
Studies have shown that when there’s chronic inflammation in the body, the signaling of the endocannabinoid system affected. In addition, compounds in the ECS, called endocannabinoids, work to maintain a healthy inflammatory response by inhibiting cell proliferation and suppressing cytokine production and eicosanoid signaling, which are all complex processes in the body that contribute to inflammation. (1)
CBD and inflammation
A fair amount of research has posed CBD as a possible treatment for inflammatory conditions as well. In fact, the authors of one review article titled, “Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs” even wrote: “Manipulation of endocannabinoids and/or use of exogenous cannabinoids in vivo can constitute a potent treatment modality against inflammatory disorders.” (2)
If you’re wondering how CBD seems to tackle chronic inflammation, you’re not alone. Researchers are also trying to figure that out at this very moment. One of the main theories is that CBD can induce T-reg cells, the immune cells responsible for finding and eliminating bacteria, viruses, and other outside invaders. (3) When inflammation is at its worst, T-reg cells lose the ability to distinguish between these invaders and the body itself, which leads to an immune system that attacks its own tissues. This causes autoimmune disease, of which there are more than 100 different kinds. (4)
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties also explain why it appears to be so helpful for anxiety. It’s easy to assume that mental and physical health are separate entities, but there’s actually an entire theory, called the “cytokine model of cognitive function,” founded on the idea that inflammation in the brain is really the culprit behind anxiety disorders. In just one example, a study was able to link lower levels of NFkB—a popular measure of inflammation—to lower rates of anxiety. (5) CBD may reduce anxiety by way of reducing inflammation.
How to use CBD to fight chronic inflammation
Because of the many legal barriers to studying CBD in humans, there’s still a lot we don’ know about CBD as a potential anti-inflammatory therapy. Hopefully, in the coming years, we’ll learn more and CBD can become a useful tool in this scenario. This is especially important when you considering the fact that steroids, the current go-to treatment for inflammation-related conditions, often come with a bunch of negative and unwanted side effects.
If you’re wanting to try CBD for inflammation, always pair it with other anti-inflammatory lifestyle habits such as eating an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising regularly, sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night, and making mindfulness practices part of your daily routine. Tackling inflammation requires a full lifestyle approach; you can’t supplement your way out of less-than-healthy habits.
Finally, make sure you’re buying your CBD oil from a company that’s third-party lab testing its products for potency and purity. Cannabis is a bioaccumulator, which means it absorbs toxins from the soil, so you want to make sure you’re not ingesting any chemicals—that might actually contribute to inflammation—along with your CBD. I recommend starting with 20 mg of CBD twice a day for one month and paying close attention to how you feel along the way.
With these diet and lifestyle changes, you can get your stress in check and support better adrenal health. If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer webcam as well as in-person consultations for people across the country and around the world.
- Kaplan, Barbara L F et al. “The profile of immune modulation by cannabidiol (CBD) involves deregulation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT).” Biochemical pharmacology vol. 76,6 (2008): 726-37. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2008.06.022 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748879/
- Nagarkatti, Prakash, Rupal Pandey, Sadiye Amcaoglu Rieder, Venkatesh L Hegde, and Mitzi Nagarkatti. “Cannabinoids as Novel Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.” Future Medicinal Chemistry 1, no. 7 (October 2009): 1333–49. https://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20191092
- Dhital, Saphala et al. “Cannabidiol (CBD) induces functional Tregs in response to low-level T cell activation.” Cellular immunology vol. 312 (2017): 25-34. doi:10.1016/j.cellimm.2016.11.006 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5327652/
- The American Autoimmune Disease Related Association https://www.aarda.org/diseaselist/
- Kassed, Cheryl A., and Miles Herkenham. “NF-kappaB p50-Deficient Mice Show Reduced Anxiety-like Behaviors in Tests of Exploratory Drive and Anxiety.” Behavioural Brain Research 154, no. 2 (October 5, 2004): 577–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2004.03.026/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15313047
- “Mead, Alice. “The Legal Status of Cannabis (marijuana) and Cannabidiol (CBD) under U.S. Law.” Epilepsy & Behavior: E&B 70, no. Pt B (2017): 288–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2016.11.021.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1525505016305856
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