Impact of Medical Cannabis on Vaccination
The Immune Response to Vaccination
Vaccination is a cornerstone of public health. A vaccine stimulates the immune system by introducing an attenuated form of a pathogen or its antigens. This triggers an inflammatory response, promoting the development of antibodies and memory cells, thereby providing immunity against future exposures1.
Cannabis and Inflammation
Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC are known for their potent anti-inflammatory effects. While generally beneficial, these anti-inflammatory properties can dampen the immune response initiated by a vaccine. Cannabinoids affect various immune cells and cytokine systems, including interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), crucial for a robust immune response23.
Why Pause Cannabis Use Around Vaccination?
Given the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids, their use close to the time of vaccination might mitigate the desired immune response. By reducing inflammation, cannabinoids could potentially lower the effectiveness of the vaccine by inhibiting necessary immune signaling pathways4.
Comparison Table: Vaccination, Inflammation, and Cannabis
|Time Post-Vaccination||Inflammatory Markers||Cannabinoid Effect Duration||Notable Cytokine/Cells Impacted by Cannabinoids|
|0-6 hrs||Rise in IL-6, TNF-α||2-6 hrs (inhalation)||IL-6, TNF-α|
|6-12 hrs||Peak IL-6, TNF-α||4-8 hrs (oral)||IL-2, IL-12|
|12-24 hrs||Plateau||6-12 hrs (topical)||IL-1β, IFN-γ|
Individuals with the following conditions should exercise caution and consult Dr. Caplan at CED Clinic for more specialized, evidence-based guidance:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Immune suppression
- Allergic reactions to prior vaccines
- Chronic inflammatory conditions
- Plotkin, S. (2018). History of vaccination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(34), 12283–12287.
- Nagarkatti, P., et al. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349.
- Klein, T. W. (2005). Cannabinoid-based drugs as anti-inflammatory therapeutics. Nature Reviews Immunology, 5(5), 400–411.
- Schwarz, H., & Blanco, F. J. (2020). Cannabinoids and the immune system. Immunobiology, 225(2), 151940.
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