Cannabidiol (CBD) has rapidly risen to fame in the past few years. Its vast popularity is due to its ability to assist various symptoms with a relatively low risk of side effects.
However, it is inaccurate to claim that CBD is safe for everyone. It can cause several adverse reactions, ranging from dry mouth and digestive issues to drug interactions. But does CBD cause swollen lymph nodes?
In this article, we explain what lymph nodes are and what causes them to swell. We also discuss CBD’s effects on the lymphatic system and whether it could lead to swollen glands.
Here’s all you need to know.
What Are Lymph Nodes?
The lymph nodes are a crucial element of the lymphatic system. This system is responsible for the following functions:
- Regulating tissue pressure
- Repairing damaged tissue
- Identifying pathogens and initiating an immune response
- Absorbing fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the intestines
It comprises several different glands and organs, including the:
- Thymus gland
The lymphatic system also relies on a network of vessels that transport a substance called lymph around the body. Lymph is a clear or white fluid containing fats, proteins, and white blood cells (especially lymphocytes).
As it circulates the body, lymph must pass through small, bean-shaped structures at various locations. These are what we know as the lymph nodes. They act as a filter between the lymphatic system and the bloodstream.
What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes?
Because of the essential role the lymphatic system plays in immunity, the lymph nodes can swell in the presence of an infection. People might notice swollen lymph nodes in the following areas:
- Back of the head
- Under the chin
Swelling occurs when pathogens like bacteria become trapped inside the lymph nodes where white blood cells destroy them. The lymphatic system then eliminates these microorganisms, and the lymph nodes return to their original size.
The lymph nodes respond similarly if cancerous cells appear within the body. Therefore, swollen lymph nodes that last more than a few days warrant medical investigation. However, in most cases, the swelling will go down without treatment.
So, how does CBD fit into the picture? We know it influences the immune system, but does it affect the lymph nodes too?
CBD Oil’s Effects on the Lymphatic System
One of the leading reasons why people take CBD is for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Inflammation causes a variety of ailments, ranging from eczema to joint pain. It is also the root cause of many chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.
Therefore, anti-inflammatory compounds like CBD have become extraordinarily desirable both for relieving symptoms and maintaining good health.
However, in the right circumstances, inflammation is a natural and beneficial process. It plays an essential role in the immune response and healing process. It is only when it flares out of control that inflammation becomes problematic.
Inflammation relies upon chemicals called cytokines that the body releases in response to injury or infection. They tell the immune system when there is a potential threat and trigger the inflammatory response.
Blood flow increases, and the number of white blood cells in a specific area rises. This is what causes the redness and swelling that typically occurs around a wound. Inflammation is also responsible for other signs of infection, such as a sore throat.
One of the ways CBD works is by suppressing cytokine activity. This includes a chemical called interferon-gamma, which the lymph nodes produce. Research suggests that high CBD doses could also inhibit the production of lymphocytes.
These anti-inflammatory properties could provide significant benefits to people with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.
However, how CBD affects healthy people’s immune systems is less clear. And when it comes to CBD and swollen lymph nodes, the subject becomes murkier still.
Could CBD Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?
Research into CBD’s influence on immunity is in its infancy. However, it seems the cannabinoid has a profound impact on the immune system, especially in certain inflammatory medical conditions.
Generally speaking, CBD has immunosuppressant effects, meaning that it dampens the immune response. Although there is some evidence that CBD could enhance certain aspects of immunity, it is currently minimal.
Therefore, it seems unlikely that CBD would cause swollen lymph nodes, indicating increased immune activity. In most consumers, CBD will have the opposite effect. So, if this is the case, can CBD help with swollen lymph nodes?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is equally unclear. Without studies specifically on how CBD affects the lymphatic system, we can only speculate.
It is possible CBD could reduce lymph node swelling in some cases. However, doing so may not be entirely beneficial. Swollen lymph nodes can be a sign of serious underlying illnesses and may require further investigation. They are not something that individuals should ignore.
So, when are swollen lymph nodes a cause for concern? Let’s take a look.
When Should You Worry About a Swollen Lymph Node?
In most instances, swollen lymph nodes are nothing to worry about. They usually indicate a minor infection such as a cold and reduce in size within a few days.
Rarely, swollen lymph nodes can indicate certain forms of cancer, including lymphoma and leukemia. Therefore, it is essential to take this symptom seriously.
Individuals should see a physician regarding swollen lymph nodes in the following circumstances:
- The lymph nodes keep getting bigger
- Lymph node swelling continues for 2–3 weeks or longer
- The lymph nodes feel hard and do not move with finger pressure
- There are other symptoms, including night sweats or fever
Could Your CBD Be Causing Swollen Lymph Nodes? Final Thoughts
Based on the current research, it seems unlikely that CBD would cause swollen lymph nodes. However, there is still a lot to learn about the compound, and soon our understanding of the subject may change.
We recommend that anyone concerned that CBD is affecting their lymph nodes ask a doctor for further advice.