The two most well recognized cannabinoids — cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — have demonstrated in research studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. The two cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system’s CB2 receptors to elicit a physiological response that suppresses the inflammatory response.
Why Does This Matter?
Anti-inflammatory substances are beneficial for maintaining overall good health and can reduce the risk of some serious conditions and diseases.
While inflammation is a necessary process that our white blood cells and other immune system substances use to protect us from dangerous foreign organisms, at times the immune system triggers an inflammatory response when it’s not necessary.
In these chronic inflammation cases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The increased number of cells and inflammatory substances rub against surrounding tissues, eventually wearing it down. This can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, heart disease, lupus, colitis, Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
How Do Cannabinoids Reduce Inflammation?
Cannabinoids have shown that they:
- Reduce the quantity of pro-inflammatory cytokines — immune system proteins that attract white blood cells to sites of infection.
- Increase the quantity of T-regulatory cells (Tregs) – a subpopulation of T cells that prevent autoimmune disease.
- Encourage the death of T cells and dendritic cells – two immune system cells that trigger and play a significant role in the inflammatory response.
- Suppress fatty acid amidohydrolase activity to increase the concentration of the naturally produced anti-inflammatory endocannabinoid, anandamide.
- Increase production of eicosanoids – signaling molecules, or “local hormones,” that promote the resolution of inflammation.
- Contribute to encouraging proper immunoregulation through immunosuppression and improving recovery from immune-caused damage.
The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids have also shown to effectively reduce the pain caused by chronic inflammation diseases.
These effects have led scientists to suggest that cannabinoids could prove to be an effective treatment modality against inflammatory disorders.
Interested in reading the research that has investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids? We’ve collected the available studies and literature reviews on inflammation and made them available here.