Cannabis Use and Infection Risk in Immunocompromised Patients

Impact of Medical Cannabis on Immune Function

Immune System and Its Function

The immune system serves as the body’s defense mechanism against pathogens and foreign substances. The system is highly regulated and involves a variety of cells, cytokines, and mediators to maintain equilibrium between inflammation and anti-inflammation. A balanced immune function is crucial for overall health1.

Cannabis and Immune Alteration

Cannabis compounds, particularly THC and CBD, exhibit immunomodulatory effects. They influence the function of various immune cells and cytokine systems, including the levels of interleukins (IL) such as IL-6 and IL-10, and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-α). However, excessive consumption of cannabinoids can lead to immune suppression and could therefore be detrimental for those with compromised immune systems23.

Timing and Caution with Cannabinoids

For individuals with immunocompromising conditions or those seeking to modulate their immune function, understanding the timing of cannabis use is vital. Strong anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids could suppress natural immune functions, warranting caution45.

Comparison Table: Immune Function, Inflammation, and Cannabis

Immune Function AspectInterleukins & Cells AffectedCannabinoid Effect DurationNotable Cytokine Systems Impacted by Cannabinoids
Inflammatory responseIL-6, TNF-α2-6 hrs (inhalation)IL-6, TNF-α
Anti-InflammatoryIL-104-8 hrs (oral)IL-10
Immune Cell ActivationTh1 cells, Th2 cells6-12 hrs (topical)IFN-γ, IL-12
Immune SuppressionT-regulatory cellsN/AIL-4, IL-10

Precautionary Note

Individuals with the following conditions should exercise caution and consult Dr. Caplan at CED Clinic for specialized guidance:

  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Post-Transplant Care
  • Chronic Inflammatory Conditions


  1. Janeway, C. A. (2001). Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. Garland Science.
  2. Nagarkatti, P., et al. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349.
  3. Klein, T. W. (2005). Cannabinoid-based drugs as anti-inflammatory therapeutics. Nature Reviews Immunology, 5(5), 400–411.
  4. Tanasescu, R., & Constantinescu, C. S. (2010). Cannabinoids and the immune system: an overview. Immunobiology, 215(8), 588–597.
  5. Cabral, G. A., & Griffin-Thomas, L. (2009). Emerging role of the cannabinoid receptor CB2 in immune regulation: therapeutic prospects for neuroinflammation. Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine, 11, e3.

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Cover of The Doctor-Approved Cannabis Handbook featuring a green medical plus symbol
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