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Autoimmune disorders are a malfunction of the body’s natural immune system that cause the body to attack its own tissues. The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, acts as a messenger system within the human body. This system is involved in immune system regulation and neuroprotection. There is significant evidence that biosynthesis, uptake, and degradation of endocannabinoids occurs in the cells of our blood and immune system. Autoimmune disorders can disrupt the balance of the ECS causing it to send signals which trigger inflammatory and arthritic responses.
Cannabis and its extracts have long been used to treat the pain associated with many autoimmune disorders, but recent studies suggest that it can potentially slow the progression or even stop autoimmune conditions from taking over. The exact mechanisms of how that happens are still to be discovered, but it is thought that CBD acts on the ECS and changes the way it signals our body to regulate our immune response.
One of the classic signs of an autoimmune disorder is inflammation. CBD has shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to promote neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons), which may help in lessening the progression of autoimmune disease.
Cannabis treatments have been shown to effectively block the progression of arthritis in animal trials and have demonstrated the ability to protect and potentially even reverse joint damage. CBD appears to suppress immune responses in classical auto-immune disorders, and preliminary studies indicate that it is able to stop experimental allergic encephalomyelitis and inflammatory bowel disease in mice. CBD has also been shown to work as a treatment for the symptoms of multiple sclerosis or MS, most notably in reducing spasticity and neuropathic pain. CBD is thought to provoke neurogenesis and act as a neuroprotective agent, which may help in slowing the neurodegeneration associated with MS.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by a degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, resulting in dysfunctional motor functions, such as the classic shaking seen in Parkinson’s patients. The antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, along with the neurogenesis caused by CBD are thought to present potential in slowing the progression of this disease. CBD has already been found to improve the quality of life measures in some PD patients. CBD is also being used to help manage the psychosis in PD patients, and is so far proving to be effective, safe, and well tolerated. The potential for CBD to slow or stop neurodegenerative processes in the brain are leading researchers to further investigate the use of cannabis extracts for a whole host of autoimmune disorders. The anti-inflammatory and immune suppressing properties of CBD could be the key to stopping the progression of auto-immune symptomology.