Does CBD oil affect the immune system?

Some studies show that CBD oil might fight inflammation and suppress an overactive immune system. However, there is not enough evidence to prove that the cannabinoid can modulate the immune system. This article looks at the effects of CBD oil on the immune system.

Although CBD studies are limited, initial research suggests that the cannabinoid can suppress an overly active immune system and fight inflammation affecting it. Although people look at CBD as an immunomodulator, there is not enough evidence to prove that it can stimulate the system. People with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis may benefit from the immunosuppressant properties of CBD oil. However, they should not drop their medications to use CBD oil for the immune system, as there is not enough evidence to prove that it can help with compromised immunity.

Understanding CBD

Although many people are into CBD products, not everyone understands it well. According to Massi et al. (2006), CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid in hemp and other cannabis plants. Such plants have active chemical substances called cannabinoids, CBD being one of them. According to Watt & Karl (2017), CBD is therapeutic, all the more why it is many people’s favorite pick. There are many CBD products in gas stations, CBD dispensaries, outlets, and health food stores.

CBD Oil and Types

Since CBD is not directly absorbed by blood cells, it is combined with other carriers to give it a base and allow it to be absorbed into the body. The combination of CBD and such compounds makes CBD deliverable methods like tinctures, oils, topicals, edibles, vapes, and capsules. The JustCBD store CBD oil is an example of a CBD deliverable method that many opt for to benefit from the therapeutic effects of the cannabinoid. Whichever CBD deliverable method you choose, you have the following three formulations to enjoy, based on the types of CBD;

  1. Isolate-based CBD; has CBD without terpenes, flavonoids, and additional cannabinoids. It mostly compromises 99% pure CBD and many like it when starting out a CBD regime.
  2. Broad-spectrum CBD; if you want to enjoy CBD with the whole range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids but without THC, broad-spectrum formulated products meet your needs.
  3. Full-spectrum CBD; like broad-spectrum CBD, full-spectrum CBD has terpenes, flavonoids, and additional cannabinoids, and also has THC. VanDolah et al. (2019) stated that the multiple compounds in this type of CBD give it a full entourage effect but more studies are needed to prove this.

How CBD Oil Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

This article examines the effect of CBD oil on the immune system but one needs to understand how the cannabinoid interacts with the cells to result in any of the claimed effects. According to Mechoulam & Parker (2013), the human body is made of an endocannabinoid system (ECS), comprising endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid receptors, and enzymes that keep producing the endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoid receptors are located all over the body and in critical organs and the endocannabinoids keep binding on them. However, the endocannabinoids can be damaged, and when this happens, the critical processes like reproduction, emotional balance, sleep, and other critical aspects that rely on the ECS are interrupted. This is where external cannabinoids like CBD and THC come in handy, they act like the endocannabinoids, binding on the receptors and helping to offset the imbalance in the critical processes. Eskander et al. (2020) stated that while THC might bind on receptors, it is unclear how CBD interacts with the body and immune cells, but chances are high that its operation is critical to the body’s processes.

CBD Oil as an Immunosuppressant

An immunosuppressant is a substance that can slow down an overly active immune system. The immune cells and the system need to stay in a state of equilibrium for all processes to run as intended. However, when the system is overly active, inflammation of the cells may take place, jeopardizing critical processes. Immunosuppressants are used to slow down the activities of an overly active immune system, and you may wonder if CBD oil can suppress the immune system. According to Hammell et al. (2016) and Schuelert & McDougall (2011), CBD oil can fight inflammation. Thus, many standpoints look at the cannabinoid as an immunosuppressant, although more research is needed to confirm this role.

Benefits of the Immunosuppressant Roles of CBD Oil

Autoimmune diseases are one class of common diseases. It comprises diseases that attack the immune cells and worsen over time. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition affecting the joints, causing pain, inflammation, and reduced mobility. According to Hammell et al. (2016), CBD oil can fight inflammation, depicting its immunosuppressant roles. The same study looked at the role of CBD oil in rats with arthritis and concluded that the cannabinoid might be helpful for autoimmune conditions. Still, it is worth noting that CBD studies are in the infancy stages and even when buying the JustCBD store’s CBD tincture, you should not replace your autoimmune condition medication with CBD oil. The cannabinoid seems to have great potential but until studies confirm this, we cannot recommend it for treating any condition. Besides, if you have to take it, consult your doctor since Meissner & Cascella (2021) stated that it can interact with some medications, particularly blood thinners in a dose-effect manner.

CBD Oil as an Immunomodulator

An immunomodulator is a substance that can hype a less sensitive immune system and suppress an overactive one. While immunosuppressants look at one angle. i.e., suppressing a system that is way too active, an immunomodulator cuts on both ends, even hyping a less active system. Is CBD oil an immunomodulator? Not certainly. The two studies quoted in the preceding paragraph support the immunosuppressant role f CBD oil, but there is not enough evidence to show that it can hype a less active system.


Some studies show that CBD oil can fight inflammation in cells to display its immunosuppressant roles. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to show that t can hype an inactive immune system. Therefore, it is not yet an immunomodulator. People with autoimmune conditions can benefit from CBD oil’s immunosuppressant roles. Still, one should not replace its medication with CBD oil since its studies are in infancy.


Eskander, J. P., Spall, J., Spall, A., Shah, R. V., & Kaye, A. D. (2020). Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment of acute and chronic back pain: A case series and literature review. J Opioid Manag, 16(3), 215-8.

Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948.

Massi, P., Vaccani, A., Bianchessi, S., Costa, B., Macchi, P., & Parolaro, D. (2006). The non-psychoactive cannabidiol triggers caspase activation and oxidative stress in human glioma cells. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS, 63(17), 2057-2066.

Mechoulam, R., & Parker, L. A. (2013). The endocannabinoid system and the brain. Annual review of psychology, 64, 21-47.

Meissner, H., & Cascella, M. (2021). Cannabidiol (CBD). In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

Schuelert, N., & McDougall, J. J. (2011). The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55. Neuroscience letters, 500(1), 72–76.

VanDolah, H. J., Bauer, B. A., & Mauck, K. F. (2019, September). Clinicians’ guide to cannabidiol and hemp oils. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 94, No. 9, pp. 1840-1851). Elsevier.

Watt, G., & Karl, T. (2017). In vivo evidence for therapeutic properties of cannabidiol (CBD) for Alzheimer’s disease. Frontiers in pharmacology, 8, 20.


Barbara Santini
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