May 10, 2017 9 min read
CBD for Inflammation
Our body’s first line of defense against any form of irritation, injury, or infection is inflammation.
But did you know that sometimes what should have been our body’s natural defense is also what makes our health problems worse?
The Good and the Bad of Inflammation
Whenever there is any injury to the tissues, the immune cells will flock to the area in an attempt to control the irritant and get rid of it so the tissues could heal.
Some of these immune cells recruit other immune cells to help, and they do this by producing and releasing substances called pro-inflammatory cytokines. It is these cytokines that will “call for help” and send the signal for more immune cells to migrate to the injured site.
Left alone, the inflammatory process will worsen. So to control them, anti-inflammatory cytokines are produced by the other types of immune cells. They will tell the pro-inflammatory cells to “calm down” and stop their recruitment of more immune cells.
In normal situations, all will be well. Inflammation, with the help of pro-inflammatory cytokines, gets rid of the irritant. The anti-inflammatory cytokines, in turn, will help the tissues heal by controlling inflammation.
In a normal situation, that is.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Instead of controlling inflammation, the immune response goes wild. The cytokines recruit and recruit more immune cells, and they will produce and release more cytokines.
Our body’s natural defense then becomes our biggest attacker as the inflammatory process turns ugly and the vicious cycle goes on.
There are many factors why the immune response goes haywire — strong irritants and pathogens, genetic predisposition, autoimmune problems, and even your habit and lifestyle.
Inflammation’s Effects on the Body
Inflammation, as mentioned above, can worsen diseases and disorders.
Take for example rheumatoid arthritis, a type of autoimmune disease that causes systemic inflammation and affects multiple joints and organs. The presence of cytokines signaling more immune cells only worsens inflammation. And inflammation of the joints, when it’s chronic, causes permanent joint damage and deformities.
In Chron’s disease, the cytokines’ recruitment of more immune cells not only contributes to the formation of the ulcers, but they are also responsible for the thickening of the intestinal walls and adhesions. These cause bowel obstructions as well as absorption problems.
Abnormal immune response to the axon’s myelin sheath is what makes multiple sclerosis worse. With the cytokines attacking the myelin sheath of the neuron’s axon, transmission of signals is impaired, resulting in debilitating motor and sensory problems.
Inflammation can play a role in epilepsy. The presence of cytokines not only makes the neurons more excitable enough to trigger a seizure, but they also worsen excitotoxicity which contributes to the death of neurons. Excitotoxicity is a state in which the neurons die because of over-activation by excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate.
Cancer, though it may be hard to believe, is also affected by immune cells since cancer cells can “hijack” a type of immune cell. Instead of getting rid of the cancer cells, these immune cells protect them and even act as their chaperons, giving them the ability to metastasize.
So, really, inflammation can be so ugly at times it can hurt us, not help us.
Medications are given to control the symptoms, reduce inflammation, and sometimes even inhibit the immune system itself from attacking the body. Sadly, even though these drugs do help, they have side effects that can also harm the body.