Does Medical Marijuana Have an Impact on the Immune System?

There have been countless studies tackling the different health benefits of medical marijuana in the body. Some examples include pain management, anxiety control, appetite booster, sleep quality improvement, and prevention of tumor growth. 

This innovative treatment option has also proven useful in managing several health conditions, such as seizures and the symptoms of AIDS and cancer chemotherapy.

Additionally, research has also stated that medical marijuana has plenty of positive impacts on the immune system. Read on below as our expert at Advanced Pain Medical Center discusses the impact of medical marijuana on various autoimmune disorders.

What are autoimmune diseases?

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against foreign invaders, such as microorganisms. Its main role is to protect the body from infection and diseases by fighting these harmful threats. 

Once the immune system detects a foreign substance, it will set off a series of processes to launch an attack. One of the first mechanisms to be stimulated is the inflammatory response. Once inflammation is triggered, a set of protective processes gets triggered, including the following:


  • Attract more white blood cells and other disease-fighting cells to the affected area. These cells will help eliminate the microorganisms.
  • Dilating the blood vessels so more blood can reach the affected area. This will help enhance the healing of any damaged cells and tissues.
  • Allowing fluid to leak into the tissues so the organisms can be isolated from the healthy cells. 


Normally, these processes only get triggered when there’s a foreign element present. So when inflammation occurs without it, then this might suggest a chronic condition, such as an autoimmune disorder.

An autoimmune disease is a condition wherein the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own healthy cells. This immune system malfunction can affect any part or organ of the body, such as the kidneys, joints, and skin.

What are the benefits of medical marijuana for autoimmune conditions?

As of writing, science has yet to discover a cure for autoimmune diseases. Doctors usually use corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, or immunosuppressants to manage their symptoms. 

However, these management techniques often cause several side effects that can negatively affect the patient’s health.

Fortunately, new research has found that another treatment option that may work better in reducing the symptoms of autoimmune disorders:  medical marijuana. 

According to the study, cannabis has the potential to relieve the symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients with the following autoimmune conditions:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Here are some of the many research-based benefits of medical marijuana for some of the most common autoimmune diseases.

  • Reduces chronic pain

Current research has found that cannabis can possibly reduce the chronic pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. It works by binding to the body’s cannabinoid receptor to suppress and block peripheral nerve pain.

Additionally, participants of a clinical trial conducted in 2016 reported that cannabis used for pain management led to fewer side effects compared to opiates. This also resulted in an improved prognosis and quality of life.

However, it’s important to note that a patient may only use medical marijuana if he/she is a Florida resident with a qualifying medical condition.

medical marijuana in Gainesville

  • Reduces the inflammatory effects of the immune system

One of the most debilitating symptoms of an autoimmune disease is the chronic inflammation that comes with it. As a result, most treatment option focuses on relieving or controlling the inflammatory effects of the immune system一which is why cannabis is a potential treatment alternative.

Studies suggest that the active components found in marijuana have anti-inflammatory properties that inhibit the expression of substances that stimulate inflammation. This includes the following:

  • Tumor necrosis factor
  • Cytokines and protein kinases
  • Cytochrome enzymes
  • Inflammatory cells, such as macrophages and neutrophils

Furthermore, the main component of cannabis (THC) activates the endocannabinoid system of the body, thus helping reduce inflammation in cells and tissues.

  • Suppresses unwanted immune cell activity

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system malfunctions, sending its systems into overdrive. As a result, a plethora of unwanted immune cell activity gets stimulated, damaging the body’s healthy tissues.

Fortunately, recent studies have found that cannabis can possibly counter this by suppressing such immune activities. When the cannabinoids bind to the body’s CB receptors, the immune cells gradually deactivate, thus inhibiting specific processes that may worsen an autoimmune disease (e.g., immune cell migration).

Moreover, it stimulates apoptosis, or cell death, on inflammatory cells and suppresses transcription factors.

  • Protects the brain cells from degeneration

Some autoimmune disorders target the healthy cells of the brain, thus damaging one’s cognitive function. However, other types of autoimmune conditions can also affect the brain once they become severe and chronic.

Unfortunately, medications used to manage such disorders have little to no positive benefits for the brain. But medical marijuana may be able to protect the brain from damage and degeneration. 

According to 2021 research, cannabis has the potential to protect the brain from neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration through CB1 receptor activation.

Additionally, cannabis has been found to increase the release of neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, dopamine, and acetylcholine.

Where to find the best facility for pain management in North Florida?

If you are looking for a trusted medical marijuana doctor in Gainesville, then you’re on the right page. 

Our board-certified physician at Advanced Pain Medical Center utilizes various avenues of innovative treatment, including medical cannabis. Through research-based evidence and experience, we believe this treatment option can increase a patient’s body function and improve his or her quality of life.


Contact us now so we can start creating a pain management treatment plan in Gainesville, FL that will suit your medical needs.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

Advanced Pain Medical Center

Leave a Comment