Our immune system protects us from bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites and serves to ward off infections. We often take our immune system for granted, but it can also get weak and need special support, especially in challenging times! A weak immune system is more susceptible to diseases. It is reason enough to do something about it.
This article gives you an overview of how the immune system works to better understand the impressive work it does every day. You will also learn what is essential for a strong immune system and how you can improve it and strengthen your body’s defenses with simple tips.
Mental health should not be forgotten here either – the American Psychological Association has released the latest literature on how to strengthen your psychological resistance, which we will discuss in this article. Share the knowledge with family, friends, the elderly and immunocompromised people – this is how we go through challenging times together and stay safe.
Can CBD strengthen the immune system?
CBD has a wide range of effects on the body, many of them on the immune system specifically. This is because the active components of the mother plant, the cannabinoids, are immune modulators, as they penetrate the immune system and alter its functions. However, are these changes really helpful and strengthen this system?
Functions of our Immune System
Our immune system is fascinating. It works continuously and protects us during healthy times, and especially during sick days. The complex system can represent a significant survival advantage. The first observations on immunology were already made 400 years before Christ. Diseases like the plague, cholera, malaria but also the flu or smallpox challenged humanity. Over time, researchers have been able to find out how the sophisticated immune system works and what mechanisms work in the body.
Humans, animals and plants have an immune system. Simply put, the function is to recognize foreign structures and to fend them off.
The human organism constantly acts with its environment. We absorb nutrients and release metabolic products. In the course of this, however, poisonous components get into the body that can make you sick. Our immune system is remarkably intelligent: it detects the attackers early and fights them.
How Infections Really Occur?
The foreign components are called antigens. Antigens are, for example, components of bacteria, viruses or microorganisms. If these are recognized and classified as dangerous, they trigger an immune response. Antibodies are generated in response to contact with antigens. Each antibody fits exactly to an antigen, according to the key lock principle. This means that they are quickly recognized when they come into contact again and trigger a specific immune reaction.
Most of the time, the immune system, consisting of the cells of the non-specific immune defense (natural killer and phagocytes) and the specific immune defense (immune response through antibodies), can deal with pathogens alone. A vital immune system is therefore crucial for health and often makes the difference whether someone has sufficient resistance to environmental influences or not.
Basically, our immune system works as follows:
- Detection of possible harmful, foreign body antigens
- Activation and mobilization of the immune system
- Attack on the antigen
- Control and termination of the attack
The body has different “lines of defense” that help with defense:
- Physical barriers
- White blood cells
- Molecules (e.g. antibodies, complement proteins)
- Lymphatic organs In order to better imagine these lines of defense, let’s briefly look at the individual defense mechanisms:
These include skin, cornea of the eyes and mucous membranes that line the respiratory, digestive and urogenital tracts. In addition, there are secretions containing enzymes, such as sweat or tear fluid, which additionally strengthen these barriers.
White blood cells
These are also known as leukocytes. They circulate in the bloodstream and penetrate the body tissue to look for intruders.
The following molecules are particularly relevant here:
- Complement proteins
These substances are found in body fluids and can promote inflammation to contain the infection. This is to prevent the spread of the infection. Other substances produced by the immune system help the body heal the inflammation. While such infections show symptoms, they are a sign that the immune system is working.
The primary and secondary lymphatic organs also play an important role with regard to the immune system. The primary lymphatic organs affect the bone marrow and thymus, both places where the white blood cells are produced or multiplied.
The secondary lymph organs include the following:
- Lymph nodes
- Palatine tonsils
- Plaques in the appendix
The innumerable components of the immune system interact ideally to protect us from foreign invaders. It is an impressive system that can save us from many diseases. That is why it is extremely important that we take good care of our bodies so that the immune system can do its important work and act as a protective shield.
CBD and the Immune System
In reality, CBD science is still underway and we are yet to find substantial evidence for bold claims. Nonetheless, there are some direct and indirect effects of CBD Oil that we can link to improvement in the overall health and vitality of a person. For instance, preclinical studies have found that CBD has the ability to reduce inflammation.
On certain occasions, the body’s inflammatory response becomes erratic, and it reacts with too many inflammations even when it is not supposed to. This is the case of autoimmune diseases, in which the patient’s immune system attacks his own body. This causes chronic inflammation, which can be extremely detrimental to health.
As a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, CBD oil can be of great use to those with health problems associated with high levels of inflammation. Individuals with a normal inflammatory response may not get sufficient help from a high consumption of the anti-inflammatory cannabinoids. However, more research is needed to determine if consuming this substance is truly helpful for the immune system in the long term.
Effects of CBD on the Immune System
CBD uses the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to interact with the immune system. In the ECS, there are two main types of receivers; CB1 and CB2, with different numbers and locations on the body.
CB1-type receptors predominate in the brain, and are those to which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) more easily couples, the plant’s psychoactive cannabinoid. However, CB2-type receptors are more abundant outside the nervous system, for example the immune system, and cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, tends to target them.
Furthermore, endocannabinoids, like anandamide, are the natural substances that the body produces to bind to these receptors. One of its many functions is, in fact, to regulate the body’s inflammatory response to an infection. When this occurs, the cells of the strong immune system detect the pathogen and release various molecules that attack the infection, producing an inflammatory response.
In addition to these types of molecules, the body releases endocannabinoids to control and ensure that the inflammatory response is not excessive. CBD could help those people whose endocannabinoid level is not sufficient, since CBD, when coupled to CB2-type receptors, stimulates the production of these substances in the body.
So, is CBD good for immune health?
It is important not to jump to conclusions about cannabis and the immune system. Several studies have verified that the plant has the ability to modulate the immune system, but whether it is better or worse depends on the situation and research on it is still in its infancy.
Chronic inflammation is detrimental to health, and those with autoimmune diseases like allergy or asthma could benefit from these properties of CBD. There is already empirical evidence that the plant has helped fight the disease of a weak immune system with HIV/AIDS and cancer, and may in the future be widely used as a treatment against them.
Until more research is done, it is important to listen to our body and be accompanied by a trusted doctor, in order to decide whether using CBD can benefit our body.
Tips for Strengthening the Immune System
In times like these, a strong immune system is more important than ever.
We have taken a closer look at the most important and most effective tips for you:
- Adequate sleep
- movement and sport
- Sunlight and fresh air
- Reduce stress
- Balanced nutrition
- Drink enough
Adequate sleep – CBD Oil Helps you Zzz… Better
Studies show that sleep and the circadian system play a major role in immunological processes. This is where My Insomnia Fix’s exclusive CBD Oil formulations can help you sleep better. Insufficient sleep leads to a stress reaction in the body and promotes the production of inflammatory cytokines. This leads to an immune deficiency, which can have a negative impact on health. Therefore, make sure you sleep well and give your body enough rest to regenerate itself.
Data show that there is a connection between health-promoting training and the general risk of disease. Moderate exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect. Adequate exercise can thus improve defense activity and the immune system. Together with an effective nutritional strategy, exercise is therefore an instrument to support the immune system. However, it should also be mentioned that too intensive training, for example during competitions, can increase the risk of illness.
The good news for the sportsmen among us: it is not necessary to be an athlete or to run a marathon. Even short walks can have a beneficial effect on the immune system. In order to promote and maintain health, at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity exercise are recommended per week.
Sunlight and Fresh Air
Vitamin D, also known as our “sun vitamin”, is produced under the sun’s rays. With insufficient sun exposure and at the same time insufficient intake of vitamin D through food, a deficiency can occur. Studies show that vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune response. Furthermore, researchers recognize a connection between a vitamin D deficiency and an increased susceptibility to infections.
Therefore, especially during the winter months, you must care to get enough vitamin D in the diet. Since the occurrence of fat-soluble vitamin D in foods is extremely limited, it is advisable to take targeted supplements in the cold season, because the sun is not high enough in the sky during this time to provide us with the vitamin D formation to supply necessary sun rays.
Reduce Stress – Say Bubye to Stress and Anxiety with CBD Oil
Studies indicate a link between stress and a weakened immune system. In this way, increased stress can increase the risk of illness and exacerbate existing conditions. CBD Oil is especially known for its magical effects of helping you with anxiety and stress. The immune system is particularly susceptible to negative stress and current stressful situations. Stress hormones are released, the organism is in full swing, but the immune system is on the back burner.
If the immune system is already weakened or you don’t feel fully fit, it is advisable to shift down a gear and reduce the stress as much as possible. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can also be helpful here.
Nutrition is one of the most important pillars in terms of strengthening the immune system. Many sufferers have an increased lack of nutrients. With the help of a balanced diet, we can supply our immune system with important components that are necessary for an efficient immune response.
Researchers were able to confirm the assumption that vitamins, minerals and trace elements play a key role in maintaining immune competence. Antioxidants also protect the immune cells from oxidative stress and help maintain their function. Therefore, pay attention to a balanced diet with sufficient macro and micronutrients.
In general, it is important to have a balanced diet. This means above all a coordinated intake of macronutrients:
- 15 – 29% protein: grab dairy products, legumes, eggs and meat here.
- Maximum 30% fats: polyunsaturated fatty acids are recommended here. You will find this mainly in vegetable oils.
- 50-60% carbohydrates: Use whole grains, vegetables and fruits here.
Basically, all vitamins have an impact on our immune system. However, the following primarily contribute to a functioning defense system:
Vitamin A – Vitamin C – Vitamin D – Vitamin E
Vitamin A keeps skin and mucous membranes healthy and helps to maintain the barrier to protect against bacteria and pathogens. Vitamin A also increases the number and efficiency of the immune cells.
Sources of vitamin A: egg yolk, spinach, sweet potato, apricots, and to a small extent also found in milk products and meat
The antioxidant inactivates harmful oxygen radicals and is essential for the metabolism of the immune cells. Even a small vitamin C deficiency leads to reduced antibody production. Smokers in particular need two to three times more vitamin C than non-smokers. This is due to the additional requirement for ascorbic acid, which is required for detoxification.
Sources of vitamin C: Almost all types of fruit and vegetables contain vitamin C. The content is particularly high in the following foods: kiwi, passion fruit, citrus, berries, pomegranate, broccoli, green and cauliflower, tomatoes, spinach and hot peppers.
Vitamin C is extremely sensitive to heat and light. Frozen vegetables therefore often have a higher vitamin content than freshly stored foods.
Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin D plays a particularly important role in strengthening the immune system. Over the winter months in particular, the skin’s own production in daylight is usually not sufficient, which is why you must ingest enough vitamin D through food or vitamin D supplements.
Sources of vitamin D: fatty fish, veal, butter, milk products, eggs, mushrooms, avocados and cheese. However, food is a rather bad source, which is why supplementation is recommended, especially in winter.
Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to lower the bad cholesterol that calcifies the vessels and is necessary for the normal course of the immune response.
Minerals and trace elements
Here too, all trace elements and minerals are important. However, the following are particularly important:
Zinc – Iron – Selenium – Copper – Calcium
Zinc is involved in many metabolic processes relevant to our immune system, protects against oxidative stress and ensures that the number of immune cells remains constant. If zinc is missing, the immunological performance is dampened. Older people and pregnant women in particular, as well as people who are very stressed, usually have a zinc deficiency. But vegetarians and vegans should also pay attention to an adequate zinc intake, since the bioavailability of zinc is particularly high in animal foods.
Sources of zinc: poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, oysters, liver, seafood, beef and veal, nuts, dairy products (cheese)
Iron is essential for blood formation as well as for cell growth and energy supply. The anemia caused by deficiency symptoms promotes an increased susceptibility to infections.
Sources of iron: beef, fish, poultry, cereals, grains, eggs, cabbage, citrus, tomatoes, milk
The antioxidative and cell-protecting properties of selenium are also important for strengthening our immune system. Selenium also helps detoxify toxic heavy metals and harmonizes the immune system. A selenium deficiency favors an impaired immune response.
Sources of selenium: meat, fish, eggs, cereals, peas, lentils, asparagus soy, sunflower seeds, nuts (especially Brazil nuts)
Copper plays an important role in blood and neurotransmitter formation. A deficit in red and white blood cells indicates a deficiency.
Sources of copper: nuts, seeds, legumes, meat and cereal products
Calcium is closely related to the immunologically valuable vitamin C and is relevant for body cells and bone metabolism.
Sources of calcium: dairy products, figs, lentils, cabbage, parsley, beans, broccoli, spinach
A sufficient supply of phytochemicals and fiber is also recommended.
The following foods are particularly health-promoting due to the secondary plant substances they contain:
- Green tea
- Coffee (in moderation)
- Lactic acid food
- Olive oil
- Red wine (in measure)
You should also make sure you drink enough and provide your body with enough fluid. Prefer teas and water instead of lemonades or high-sugar drinks.
In challenging times, mental health is more important than ever. Blows of fate, unfamiliar situations or crises are difficult to process for many people. Psycho-hygiene is therefore particularly important in difficult times in order to strengthen our “psychological immune system”.
Resilience, strength and robustness determine how well people can deal with trauma or critical life events, such as job loss, sickness and global pandemics.
The term resilience describes the psychological resilience that helps us to cope with crises. This resilience goes back to social and personal resources, but can also be learned. These protective factors have protective functions in both childhood and adulthood and enable us to cope with stressful experiences without damage to health.
Guidelines by American Psychological Association
Numerous worldwide crises triggered research on resilience. These tried to clarify why some people are able to deal with difficult times better than others. The American Psychological Association therefore describes the following 10 ways to strengthen resilience, which you should rely on in difficult times:
- Strive for social contacts
- Think of crises as insurmountable problems
- Accept that change is part of life
- Strive to achieve your goals
- Decide to act
- Look for ways to find yourself
- Promote a positive self-image
- Take a neutral look at the current situation
- Keep an optimistic expectation
- Take care of yourself
Keep in touch with close friends and family members. Thanks to digital media, this is already possible regardless of location. Social contacts strengthen resilience. The feeling of support and belonging feels good.
Crises and stressful events cannot be changed, but the reaction to them can. Try to look beyond the present and look positively into the future. Acceptance can also help to focus on essential aspects again.
Set new, realistic goals instead of focusing on unattainable or currently impossible goals.
Crises can help you grow within yourself. Especially after difficult situations, people report a strengthened self-esteem. Don’t let the critical events get the upper hand. Stay optimistic, take care of your needs and feelings and take them seriously.
So especially in difficult times, do not forget about sufficient self-care, self-love and joys of life. Together we can do everything!
The information presented in this article is intended for useful and informative purposes. It should not be used as a recommendation or medical treatment.