Can you have an allergic reaction to CBD oil?
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- CBD oil overview
- Allergies in the body
- Allergic reactions to CBD oil
- Can CBD oil help with allergies?
Whether it’s sniffling, watery eyes, itching, or asthma, many of us are all too familiar with symptoms of allergies.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are the No. 6 cause of chronic illness in the United States. To narrow that down,there were 19.9 million adults diagnosed with hay fever in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is estimated that 32 million Americans live with food allergies; more than 170 foods may lead to allergic reaction.
Considering the increasing awareness and use of cannabidiol (CBD) and the existing potential for pollen and food allergies, allergy sufferers may wonder whether they are at risk for an allergic reaction to CBD oil or whether CBD can provide treatment or relief for other types of allergic reactions.
Though there’s not much in the way of allergy research specifically for CBD oil at this point, the cannabis plant itself has been linked to allergic reactions.
“Marijuana is a plant and produces pollen and one can become allergic to the pollen and the plant, especially if one has pre-existing allergic tendencies,” said Dr. William S. Silvers, clinical professor of medicine in allergy and immunology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
That being said, only male marijuana plants produce pollen, and are exceedingly rare in cannabis and hemp production because they produce less oil and CBD than female plants. Therefore, a consumer’s exposure to pollen would be extremely rare.
CBD oil overview
CBD is the second-most-prominent cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant, after the intoxicating cannabinoid THC. CBD oil, extracted from marijuana or industrial hemp, has gained popularity for its potential benefits for a number of conditions, including inflammation, arthritic pain, depression, seizures, and anxiety.
There’s not much in the way of allergy research specifically for CBD oil, but the cannabis plant itself has been linked to allergic reactions in some people. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Though research is still limited in regards to many supposed benefits, in 2018 the FDA approved Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution, to treat seizures associated with two severe types of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Allergies in the body
A properly functioning immune system works to protect the body from pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and attack these unwanted microorganisms in order to help prevent disease. In the case of allergies, the immune system reacts to plant pollen and other substances in the environment to trigger the body’s defense mechanisms. The result, depending on the type of allergy, can be a variety of symptoms, including itchy eyes, runny nose, asthma, hives, skin itching, or more severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.
Allergic reactions to CBD oil
Humans commonly experience allergic reactions to many kinds of plant pollen. However, only male cannabis plants produce pollen, whereas female plants are more widely used for oil and cannabinoid production. Large-scale industrial hemp fields may include a variety of mature males (pollen) as well as fertilized females (oil and seeds). The impact of hemp pollen on everyday consumers, as well as the communities that work and live near these production facilities, has not been studied.
People can also develop allergies to some of the terpenes found in cannabis. For instance, researchers from the Duke University School of Medicine found that about 20% of the 100 people they tested had an allergic skin reaction to linalool, whereas 8% had reactions to limonene. These kinds of contact allergies may not be common in the general population, but individuals who are employed in the production of cannabis products and CBD oil could be more at risk.
In addition to the skin, the lungs are another target for allergic reactions to terpenes. Assessing the risk is somewhat complicated because some terpenes are irritants, whereas others, such as eucalyptol, may actually provide a protective, anti-inflammatory role and might help to control inflammatory diseases like asthma and COPD.
Dr. Gordon Sussman, an allergist in Canada and professor at the University of Toronto, said there is very little published research on CBD oil allergies.
“It’s an unknown area at this point,” he said. “But we know that cannabis sativa is an allergen and we know that it’s a common allergen.”
Humans commonly experience allergic reactions to many kinds of plant pollen. Only male cannabis/hemp plants produce pollen. Most cannabis products, including CBD oil, are made using female cannabis plants. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
He said that cannabis allergies, like other forms of allergies, can worsen as exposure to the allergen continues. Most people with cannabis allergies suffer from a runny and stuffy nose (rhinitis), eye irritation (conjunctivitis), and sometimes wheezing, Sussman explained. But there have been cases of more severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, which have primarily resulted from ingestion of hemp seeds.
According to a letter entitled “Marijuana and stoned fruit,” written by medical doctors from the University of California, San Diego, and published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology on Feb. 2, 2018, a 24-year-old man who smoked marijuana daily visited their allergy clinic two weeks following an anaphylactic reaction after eating yogurt with hemp seeds.
“This was his first known ingestion of hemp seeds. Immediately after consumption, he developed oral pruritus [itching] that progressed to shortness of breath, facial swelling, and pre-syncope [sensation prior to fainting],” the letter stated.
Those with food allergies may also be susceptible to cross-reactivity.
“You can have a cross-reaction with certain foods that share certain antigens, certain components, with the cannabis plant itself,” Silvers said.
Such foods may include tomatoes and stone fruits containing pits such as peaches, he said. It’s a similar cross-reactivity to what is seen in people with ragweed allergies who might experience symptoms such as itchy mouth if they eat fruit in the melon family, he added.
“The same thing goes with cannabis and tomatoes and peaches and almonds and a number of other foods … eggplant, grapefruit, apples,” Silvers said.
There is no clinical evidence CBD oil can help allergies. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
A 2013 study from the “Internal Archives of Allergy and Immunology” tested 21 patients with food allergies for reactivity to cannabis lipid transfer proteins (LTPs), which are probable allergens. Twelve of the 21 test subjects were allergic to cannabis, and all 12 had more severe reactions to food allergy than those without a cannabis allergy. A 2008 study, also from “Internal Archives of Allergy and Immunology,” tested 32 subjects for an allergic reaction to cannabis LTPs, as well as tomato, peach peel, and pollen extracts. The study found that all test subjects sensitive to tomato allergens were also sensitive to cannabis. There was also cross-reactivity noted with peach peel.
Silvers said that the type of allergic reaction depends on the type of exposure. In addition to cannabis pollen allergies and food-based allergies, skin allergies are also a possibility.
“Touching the plant can very easily develop a dermatitis, itching, and skin reactions,” he said.
Can CBD oil help with allergies?
While there isn’t much research supporting the idea that CBD oil can help the discomfort associated with common allergy symptoms, there is some research related to its general effects on inflammation, which is part of the body’s allergic reaction process.
A 2011 research report published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine examined the potential role of CBD in various inflammatory-type conditions. George W. Booz, a professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, concluded in the report: “Inflammation and oxidative stress are intimately involved in the genesis of many human diseases. Unraveling that relationship therapeutically has proven challenging, in part because inflammation and oxidative stress ‘feed off’ each other. However, CBD would seem to be a promising starting point for further drug development given its antioxidant (although relatively modest) and anti-inflammatory actions on immune cells … .”
According to Silvers, there is no clinical evidence CBD oil can help allergies and, while experimental laboratory research suggesting anti-inflammatory effects exists, there’s no clinical patient substantiation.Can you have an allergic reaction to CBD oil? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents CBD oil overview Allergies in the body Allergic reactions
CBD Oil for Allergies: A Breath of Fresh Air
There’s nothing better than spending time in nature. Going camping, having a picnic, or simply going for a walk can be both relaxing and therapeutic. However, for millions of Americans, there is one thing that can rain on this parade – allergy symptoms.
Most of us have experienced seasonal allergies—coughing, sneezing, itchy watery eyes. It can be difficult to avoid environmental allergens such as pollen and trees, without sacrificing the enjoyment of nature.
Allergy medications can help manage symptoms, but in some cases, they cause side effects such as drowsiness.
For these reasons, environmental allergy sufferers are experimenting with alternative ways to help manage their allergy symptoms. CBD oil is being explored for its potential use for a variety of conditions, including chronic pain and anxiety. There is good evidence to support CBD’s use in other conditions, but the question we’re addressing here is: What about CBD oil for allergies?
CBD Oil for Allergies: Just the Facts
People who use CBD oil for their allergies report that it helps to decrease their allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, there have not yet been any research studies on using CBD oil for allergies. However, research does show that CBD lowers inflammation levels via the endocannabinoid system, which is a factor in allergy symptoms. More in-depth research is needed on the potential benefits of using CBD oil for allergies.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergy symptoms are caused by an overreaction of the immune system. This response is important, as it is the immune system’s job to protect us against real health threats such as harmful bacteria and viruses. For some people, however, exposure to seemingly harmless foods or particles in the air results in the immune system going haywire, leading to pesky allergy symptoms. There are some extremely common environmental allergens, including:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Cigarette smoke
In many cases, these allergies are worse during certain seasons, such as spring when flowers and trees are blooming. These allergies are referred to as seasonal allergies.
Symptoms of Environmental Allergies
When the body’s immune system becomes activated, it causes the release of various chemicals, such as the release of histamine by mast cells. Histamine and other chemicals are responsible for the allergy symptoms people experience. In addition, activation of the immune system causes an increase in inflammation all over the body, including the eyes, nasal passages, skin, and throat.
Allergy sufferers often experience symptoms of:
- Runny nose and nasal congestion
- Itching and hives
For people with asthma, allergy symptoms can worsen breathing issues, which may be serious.
Conventional Treatment of Seasonal Allergies
For most allergy sufferers, antihistamine medications are their best friend during high-allergen seasons. These medications block histamine release, which is the main chemical that causes allergy symptoms. Although newer, non-drowsy versions of many of these medications are available, some people still experience fatigue when taking them.
Antihistamines do not seem to work as well for nasal congestion symptoms, which typically respond best to nasal sprays. These nasal sprays are either saline-based or steroid-based. Long-term steroid use can lead to thinning of the nasal tissues and an increased risk of nosebleeds.
In addition to treating their allergy symptoms with medications, people who suffer from environmental allergies often make lifestyle changes, such as using air filters and closing windows. Many have also turned to alternative therapies such as essential oils, probiotics, and herbal therapies like CBD oil.
Using CBD for Allergies
Allergy suffers are experimenting with using CBD to help alleviate their allergy symptoms, and many are reporting positive results.
One user reports: “What I didn’t expect was for it to completely neutralize my seasonal allergies — which are pretty severe — and, relatedly, my asthma. For once, I can breathe through BOTH my lungs and nostrils during the spring without having to drown myself in cetirizine.”
Unfortunately, there have not been any human research studies looking at using CBD oil for allergies just yet. However, theoretically, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may help improve some people’s allergy symptoms.
What the Research Says
CBD and Inflammation
Inflammation is a significant factor in allergy symptoms, and CBD has been shown to decrease inflammation through its effect on the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is a system within our bodies, which influences inflammation, pain, and emotions. CBD itself stimulates the CB1 and CB2 receptors within this system. Research shows that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are distributed through this system.
Medical Marijuana and Allergies
You may have heard about people using other cannabis products, such as marijuana, for their asthma and allergy symptoms. This is because it was thought that it could help open up airways.
There has been some research on medical marijuana and allergies. Researchers found that THC is an effective bronchodilator, which means it opens up the airways.
Keep in mind that medical marijuana contains both CBD and THC. Therefore, we cannot assume that CBD alone has the same effect.
It should be noted that smoking medical marijuana, just like smoking of any kind, has been shown to worsen respiratory symptoms. Also, smoking is associated with other respiratory diseases like COPD and lung cancer.
Some Background on the Legality of CBD
In the last few years, research on CBD and its potential health benefits has exploded. This is because up until recently, all forms of the cannabis plant were considered a Schedule I drug, which means it is federally illegal to buy or sell within the United States.
The Farm Bill, which was signed in 2018, made a legal distinction between the different strains of the cannabis plant — the industrial hemp plant and the marijuana plant. Both are in the family of cannabis plants, but they are not the same. The main difference between the two is their (tetrahydrocannabinol) THC content. This is the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes you feel “high.”
Legal CBD products are derived from the industrial hemp plant, and they contain only traces (up to 0.3%) of THC. They are legal to buy and sell in all 50 states of the USA.
Regulation of CBD
At this time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD products. This means quality standards vary between manufacturers.
When purchasing CBD products, do your research into the company to ensure they have high-quality standards and use third-party testing. Consult reputable websites like this one to find a CBD product that is third-party tested and created by a brand you can trust.
A Summary of What the Research Says
Currently, there are no human studies on using CBD oil for allergies.
There are anecdotal reports of CBD helping some people alleviate their allergy symptoms.
Theoretically, CBD may help with allergies through its stimulation of the endocannabinoid system, which modulates inflammation.
Research shows that products containing THC, such as medical marijuana, are effective at opening up breathing passages. However, given that CBD products do not contain any significant amounts of THC, we cannot assume CBD alone has the same effect.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Allergies
Although the research on the use of CBD oil for allergies is in its infancy, some people report that it does help with their allergy symptoms.
If you are thinking about using CBD oil for your allergy symptoms, consult with your doctor first. Do not replace your current allergy medications with CBD without medical supervision. And keep in mind that severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening for some people. CBD should not be used for acute allergic reactions or when breathing is impaired.Find out if you can use CBD oil for allergies as well as other types of immune issues. ]]>