Viruses are a type of pathogen that upon entering a host cell or organism, uses the host’s biological processes to replicate it. Unlike bacteria, viruses are unaffected by antibiotics. (This is why a doctor doesn’t prescribe antibiotics for a cold – it just won’t work.)
Antiviral medication aims to reduce or prevent the replication rate of the virus when it’s in the body. This gives our immune system time to react to the virus before it grows in numbers that cause the disease to cause much damage.
The immune system also protects us from bacterial infection. In some cases, it can turn on our own cells. This phenomenon is known as an autoimmune disorder. There are a multitude of conditions that are the result of an autoimmune issue. They can be very targeted or localized to one organ/area of the body as our immune system has such a specific targeting system based on recognizing or detecting certain markers on the exterior of cells.
Cannabinoids (and by extension, cannabis) have been observed to have anti-inflammatory abilities. Inflammation is part of the immune response. It’s somewhat challenging to definitively state whether this is a benefit or not, as inflammation does have its purpose in making the environment unsuitable for pathogen survival. However, it can also cause damage, especially when it’s a vital organ, and the organ function is decreased as a result.
Research into the interaction between cannabis and the immune system is growing rapidly. For autoimmune disorders, viral and bacterial infections, for compromised immune systems (HIV and AIDS), and many other areas. Studies are already beginning to cement evidence that supports the use of CBD and THC in the treatment of many immune system related illnesses. Triggering cell death in cancerous tumors via the modulation of the immune system, or prevention of inflammation in the brain (neuroprotection) are two areas which will hopefully produce positive results.