“The Two Sides of the Same Coin”—Medical Cannabis, Cannabinoids and Immunity: Pros and Cons Explained

Mona Khoury, Idan Cohen, Gil Bar-Sela

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Cannabis, as a natural medicinal remedy, has long been used for palliative treatment to alleviate the side effects caused by diseases. Cannabis-based products isolated from plant extracts exhibit potent immunoregulatory properties, reducing chronic inflammatory processes and providing much needed pain relief. They are a proven effective solution for treatment-based side effects, easing the resulting symptoms of the disease. However, we discuss the fact that cannabis use may promote the progression of a range of malignancies, interfere with anti-cancer immunotherapy, or increase susceptibility to viral infections and transmission. Most cannabis preparations or isolated active components cause an overall potent immunosuppressive impact among users, posing a considerable hazard to patients with suppressed or compromised immune systems. In this review, current knowledge and perceptions of cannabis or cannabinoids and their impact on various immune-system components will be discussed as the “two sides of the same coin” or “double-edged sword”, referring to something that can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences. We propose that much is still unknown about adverse reactions to its use, and its integration with medical treatment should be conducted cautiously with consideration of the individual patient, effector cells, microenvironment, and the immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number389
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Medical cannabis
  • Phytocannabinoids


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