Best way to test for allergies to cbd oil

What to Know About CBD for Allergies

​Cory Martin is the author of seven books including “Love Sick” a memoir about dating, life in Hollywood and dealing with MS. Her essays have appeared online with CNN, HuffPost, Everyday Health, Psychology Today, Folks, The Mighty, and more.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Jurairat J. Molina, MD, MBA is a board-certified allergist who has been practicing in field of allergy and clinical immunology for the past two decades.

Allergies can greatly affect a person’s quality of life, causing symptoms like sneezing, congestion, rash, and swelling. These symptoms can disrupt your daily life, by causing discomfort, sleep loss, and lower productivity at work. If you experience any or all of these symptoms, it’s natural to want to seek relief.

People with allergies may consider CBD (cannabidiol) to help relieve their symptoms. While research into the effects of CBD on allergies is limited, there is evidence that the compound can help relieve pain and inflammation, and mitigate some of the body’s immune responses to allergens.

This article will discuss how CBD can help with allergies, the best types of CBD to use, and any side effects.

Verywell / Danie Drankwalter

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a role in many of the body’s systems and processes, including metabolism, immunity, and the central and peripheral nervous systems. The body produces cannabinoids that are received by cannabinoid receptors to keep the body functioning normally.

Cannabinoids help regulate the immune system by lowering inflammation in the body. When the body’s cannabinoid system is not working properly, inflammatory and immune-related disorders, such as allergies, can occur.

Because it’s a cannabinoid, CBD may be helpful in relieving allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, congestion, and runny nose.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, otherwise known as marijuana. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the other cannabinoid compound derived from the cannabis plant, CBD is non-psychoactive.

While CBD and THC are the most commonly discussed compounds from the cannabis plant, more than 100 other cannabinoids have been identified.

CBD vs. Hemp Seed Oil

The cannabis sativa plant has been cultivated in two different ways: “drug hemp” (marijuana) and “industrial hemp” (hemp). Drug hemp contains high levels of THC, whereas industrial hemp has a THC level less than 0.3%.

Hemp plants grown for recreational or medicinal use have high THC and high CBD levels.

Industrial hemp is legal throughout the United States and is grown for fiber, paper, hemp seeds, construction materials, textiles, and hempseed oil.

Like CBD oil, hempseed oil has been touted for its health benefits. Hempseed oil is known for its nutritional value, as it contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Hempseed oil also contains polyphenols, tocopherols, proteins, and carbohydrates, which have nutritional benefits.

Cannabis Allergy

While you may seek CBD or hemp to treat your allergies, be aware it’s possible to develop an allergy to cannabis itself. Hemp allergy is similar to other allergies, like pollen allergies. Symptoms can range from skin irritations, like rashes or hives, to respiratory afflictions such as asthma, congestion, and runny nose.

Though more research needs to be done, smoking marijuana or hemp may increase the likelihood of developing asthma and other allergic diseases. If you have allergic asthma, you may want to avoid smoking the compound.

Allergy Symptoms and Triggers

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to a foreign substance that is normally harmless in most people. Common allergens include, but are not limited to:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Pets and farm animals
  • Insect stings and bites
  • Foods
  • Medication
  • Contact allergens, such as metals for fragrance ingredients
  • Mold

Many allergies are triggered by situations and environmental factors, such as a bee sting or eating certain foods.

Seasonal allergies can be triggered by pollen in the air when plants are blooming. Pet allergies can be triggered upon entering someone’s home where there is pet dander in the air.

Any of these types of triggers can cause symptoms. Common allergy symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Runny nose, coughing, and sneezing
  • Breathing problems
  • Watery or swollen eyes
  • Itching
  • Rash or hives
  • Stomach or bowel problems

When to Seek Emergency Help

If you experience difficulty breathing or your throat begins to close or swell, call 911 immediately. This can be a sign of a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.

CBD for Allergies

While research into the effects of CBD on allergies has been limited mainly to small studies and animal studies, there is promise that CBD can help mitigate or eliminate allergic symptoms and reactions.

Congestion

CBD is known to work on one of the pathways of the ECS that produces histamine-activating cells in the body. There is some evidence that CBD could greatly reduce the amount of histamine produced in an allergic reaction, which would reduce congestion.

Skin Rashes

The ECS helps regulate and control immune function in the body, and more recent research suggests that the ECS also plays a role in maintaining skin health.

Some studies suggest that CBD applied directly to the skin can help with rashes and other inflammatory conditions of the skin, such as eczema, but further research is still needed.

What Are the Side Effects of CBD?

Studies have shown that CBD is relatively safe to consume, however these studies are limited. Further research is needed to determine the effects of CBD on the entire body and its effects over long-term consumption.

The most common side effects of CBD are:

  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Mood changes and irritability
  • Lower appetite and weight loss
  • Diarrhea

Best CBD for Allergies

The most common methods for consuming CBD for allergies and inflammation are topical treatments, herbal extracts, and edibles. Choosing a method depends on the type of allergy symptom being treated.

For rashes and skin inflammation, a topical cream or ointment may be best. For hay fever and other full-body symptoms, an herbal extract, edible, or nasal spray might work best. A nasal CBD spray may be beneficial, as the lining of the nose is thin, and CBD can pass directly into the blood, which produces faster effects.

The other factor to consider is the type of CBD: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or an isolate.

  • Full-spectrum CBDuses all extracts of the cannabis plant, which includes CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and other cannabinoids. The THC concentration in full-spectrum is 0.3% or less.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD contains CBD and other cannabinoids, but it has no THC.
  • A CBD isolate is pure CBD with no other parts of the cannabis plant.

The “Entourage Effect”

Some evidence suggests that broad- or full-spectrum CBD produces better benefits, due to the synergistic effects of the other compounds within the spectrum, including THC. This is known as the “entourage effect.”

Dosage

CBD dosage will depend on the delivery method chosen and what symptom is being treated.

Doses ranging from 300 mg to 600 mg have been shown to help treat anxiety disorders. Another study showed that a dosage of 25 mg helped improve poor sleep.

There is very little regulation on the dosing of CBD, so you may need to experiment until you find the right dose for your body and symptoms. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about appropriate dosing.

How to Buy CBD

Buying CBD will depend on where you live. In states where marijuana, and thus CBD derived from the “drug hemp,” is legal, you can find CBD at a dispensary. In states where marijuana is not legal, you will have to buy CBD that is derived from “industrial hemp.” As with all supplements, it is best to research the product to make sure it’s good quality.

A Word From Verywell

While much research still needs to be done on CBD and its effects, there is promise that it could be useful for treating allergy symptoms. If you are considering taking CBD to help alleviate symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider to discuss the best options. In the meantime, remember that there are many over-the-counter antihistamines that can help with seasonal and year-round allergies.

Frequently Asked Questions

CBD is not a decongestant, but it is theorized to work on the endocannabinoid system, which can reduce inflammation and congestion.

Using CBD for allergy treatment can be used the same way as other allergy medications, though it is important to note that the FDA has not approved CBD use for allergies. If you choose to try CBD to help manage your allergy symptoms, you can use a nasal spray, edible, or topical treatment.

Allergic asthma can worsen in people who are allergic to CBD, or the marijuana/hemp plants and their seeds. A severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can occur.

Terpenes are compounds in plants that cause their fragrance. Cannabis is known for its fragrance and therefore its terpenes. Terpenes are found in full- and broad-spectrum CBD. In one study on the effects of CBD for epilepsy, it was discovered that the full- and broad-spectrum versions had better outcomes, thus suggesting that terpenes play an important part in CBD’s effectiveness.

Can You Be Allergic to Marijuana?

It is possible to be allergic to cannabis. The most common allergic reaction to the marijuana plant comes from the flower’s pollen, like hay fever. The pollen of plants causes the immune system to attack the foreign material, causing an extreme immune system reaction.

Also similar to hayfever, the most common signs of an allergic reaction to cannabis are:

  • Itchy, red, and/or watery eyes
  • A dry cough
  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • A scratchy or sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea

Learn more about what causes marijuana allergies, recognize the symptoms, and treat an allergic reaction to cannabis.

What Causes Marijuana Allergies?

Marijuana is a plant that contains up to 600 different compounds. A person can be allergic to cannabis, and it is usually due to one of the many compounds in the cannabis plant – but not necessarily a cannabinoid , terpene, or flavonoid.

People are often exposed to cannabis allergens in the following ways:

  • Inhaling cannabis pollen in the air.
  • Smoking marijuana or breathing in second-hand cannabis smoke.
  • Touching marijuana (contact dermatitis).

Symptoms

Some people may get an allergic reaction from handling the plant. The ​​skin reaction is called “contact dermatitis,” and the symptoms can include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red, inflamed, and/or puffy skin
  • Dry skin
  • Hives
  • Blisters

A severe allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock can occur in rare and extreme cases. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include:

  • Difficulty breathing, which can be made worse by a swollen tongue or throat
  • Shallow blood pressure
  • A weak, rapid pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Itchy, flushed, or pale skin

In such instances, emergency medical care is required.

Potential Health Risks

In most instances, cannabis allergies are not deadly, and thankfully most people realize from their symptoms that they’re allergic before they ingest it.

How Marijuana Allergies are Diagnosed

There is currently no standard way to test for a marijuana allergy. But you may visit an allergist’s office and ask for a skin test to be performed. The skin test results may confirm that you have a cannabis allergy or may lead to the allergist performing further tests if the results are negative.

You can also perform a skin test at home instead of visiting an allergist if you have mild symptoms. The most straightforward and safest way to check if you have an allergy to the cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids themselves is to prick your skin and handle cannabis extract with little plant material (e.g., wax, honey, or a little Rick Simpson Oil ). This is known as the “skin prick test.”

If you get any signs of contact dermatitis, you may be allergic to cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids rather than the cannabis plant. You can also see if you get contact dermatitis after handling raw flower or resin, which could help determine what part of the cannabis plant you’re allergic to.

Many people with allergic reactions to cannabis can recognize their symptoms in other ways. One way to see if you have a cannabis allergy is if you have an allergy to any of the following fruits, vegetables, or nuts, as they share some similar protein properties (cross-reactivity):

  • Almonds
  • Chestnuts
  • Eggplants (aubergine)
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Grapefruit

If your symptoms become severe, you should seek medical care immediately.

Treatment

While there is no cure for marijuana allergies, there are ways that you can treat the issue. Treatment for marijuana allergies may be as simple as preventing exposure to the plant. However, if you wish to continue a medical marijuana regimen, you can take steps to manage your allergies.

One easy way to treat a marijuana allergy is with over-the-counter allergy medications that contain antihistamines. You may also purchase an over-the-counter asthma medication or inhaler. Albuterol inhalers have been helpful to some people who suffer from allergic reactions to cannabis. Finally, a nasal decongestant or cough syrup may help temper the mild to moderate symptoms of a marijuana allergy.

There are also other experimental treatments you may try, including the use of cannabinoids. As tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) can dampen immune responses and have anti-inflammatory effects, it is reasonable to believe that they could be used to treat mild allergic reactions to some extent. THC, CBD, and pinene can also open the airways, making such compounds potentially beneficial for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

However, there is little evidence that cannabinoids specifically work for treating allergic reactions. Cannabinoid therapy is a promising research area, and CBD could be an alternative to the more powerful, first-generation antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), which cause drowsiness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a marijuana allergy common?

Cannabis allergies are not very common. People with hay fever may be more sensitive to the pollen in cannabis plants, and certain varieties may be more likely to cause an allergic reaction than others.

Can you be allergic to the smell of weed?

In rare instances, you may be allergic to the smell of weed. This allergy will be easy to recognize, with sneezing, itching, and watery eyes among the most common symptoms that people report.

Can you be allergic to CBD oil?

It’s possible to be allergic to CBD oil, but as with cannabis allergies, the problem is not shared. If you are allergic to CBD oil, you may present many of the same symptoms as general allergies, such as a runny nose, cough, or dry throat.

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