Allergies are no joke. More than half of respondents to a survey in the United States said they were allergic to at least one thing. Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, is one of the most common allergies. It affects between 10 and 30% of all adults in the U.S., and up to 40% of children.
Allergies can, of course, be managed. Nevertheless, they can be irritating and get in the way of day to day life. If you find yourself having to avoid common occurrences and foods, then you’ll know just how stressful (and annoying) allergies can be.
Many folks with severe allergies have wondered how they might fare with CBD oil. Some have been apprehensive about trying it due to any potential risks that might be involved.
But are there any real allergy risks involved with taking a daily CBD oil — or any other CBD-based product? It’s true that as cannabis legalization has spread throughout the US, there has been an increase in cannabis-related allergies. CBD comes from industrial hemp, a type of cannabis, so the concern that people may be legitimate.
However, if you try a CBD product without knowing if you’re allergic, are you putting your life at risk? In this article, we will explain the truth about CBD allergies, along with how you can keep you and your loved ones safe when trying CBD for the first time.
How Allergies Work
The word “allergy” derives from an ancient Greek term meaning “other work.” This is because an allergy is the result of the immune system having an abnormal reaction to something that is otherwise quite normal.
A regular immune system knows how to differentiate between harmful and non-harmful compounds. However, if you have an allergy, the immune system is confused and receives mixed signals. When things like pollen (in the case of hay fever) enter the body, they are identified as harmful invaders, and the immune system responds by creating antibodies that “attack” them. Every time you are exposed to the allergen, the same antibodies are created, and the immune system attacks.
Most allergies can be managed using medication, and we all know that common allergies have standard OTC drugs (i.e. Claritin) that might help. Hay fever is considered a mild allergic reaction, although it is irritating. Since the immune system creates histamines to attack the pollen, it can usually be managed with anti-histamine drugs.
Food allergies are more complicated, and are treated with slightly different medications. With food allergies, the immune system is attacking proteins and other compounds within the food, and the reactions are much more dangerous. Anaphylaxis is potentially life-threatening, but can be treated using epinephrine.
But what about CBD allergies? Is it even possible to be allergic to CBD oil? And if so, what are some potential treatment options to try and avoid adverse effects?
Can You Be Allergic to CBD?
First, let’s talk about cannabis allergies in general. Most people know by now that cannabidiol (CBD) is a product of cannabis plants, including hemp. Cannabis allergies do exist. Among people who suffer from cannabis-based allergies, symptoms can be triggered via:
- Inhaling cannabis pollen in the air
- Smoking cannabis
- Touching cannabis
- Eating cannabis
In 2018, a study was published which suggested that people with allergies to cat dander, mold, dust mites, and plants were more likely to have a cannabis allergy. However, much research is required to firmly establish this connection.
Of course, if you already have hay fever then the pollen from cannabis plants may be an irritant to you. And if mold is an allergen for you, the potential for mold on cannabis plants is something you’ll want to take seriously. But this only regards the actual flowers on cannabis plants – what if you just want to use something like a CBD oil or CBD gummy?
A study from 1971 revealed that THC by itself could produce a potential allergic reaction. As a cannabinoid with a similar molecular structure to CBD, this could mean that CBD could cause allergies as well. Research is underwhelming at the moment, so we can only hope that more light will be shed on the topic in the future.
For now, we can only assume that an allergic reaction to CBD is possible. However, you must bear in mind that full-spectrum products will be more at risk of causing allergies than a CBD isolate.
Here’s how you can tell if you are allergic to CBD.
How to Know if You Are Allergic to CBD
Allergies can manifest themselves in unique ways, and your symptoms might not map neatly onto this list. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, then you might be allergic to CBD:
- Respiratory Problems: The pollen found in cannabis plants can cause an allergic reaction in the upper respiratory system. You may have a runny nose, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, and/orr a cough. This may occur from full-spectrum CBD products, as it contains extracts from the whole plant and things like pollen will find their way into the product.
- Skin Irritations: Many people are fond of topical CBD applications. If you apply CBD to your skin and come out in rashes or hives, however, don’t jumpt to any conclusions. Most topical creams and lotions are loaded with chemicals, and it could just as well be a foreign compound you’re reacting to, rather than the CBD.
- Itchy Eyes: Dry eyes are a common side effect to CBD. However, if your eyes are beyond dry, with itchiness, bloodshot eyeballs, and/or excessive watering, there could be an allergic reaction taking place.
- Migraines: Some first-time users of CBD may experience a slight headache. This should subside after the first use. However, if you experience a serious headache or migraines – and if these persist – then it may be a result of allergies.
Another thing to consider is that the side effects of CBD can easily be mistaken for allergies. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC routinely cause dry mouth and dry eyes, but this should not be a big deal. You might also experience a slight headache or dizziness for the first couple of days that you use it.
That said, the side effects of CBD are usually mild compared to THC. If you experience anything more serious, then it could be a result of an allergic reaction. At the end of the day, it’s down to you to know your body and trust your instincts. If you think you could be allergic, see a doctor and cease use of the product straight away.
Mitigating Your CBD Allergies
If you know you have allergies, then it’s probably best to just avoid CBD – especially full-spectrum extracts. The thing is, it might be difficult to tell exactly what caused the allergic reaction when using these products. For example, it could have been caused by the CBD, accidental pollen in the product, plant waxes, trace THC, hemp seed oil… the list goes on.
If you really want to try out CBD but think you might be allergic, try a CBD isolate first. Use a small amount when starting out, just to be sure that you will not have a dangerous reaction.
Lastly, when shopping for any CBD product, be sure to only buy from companies that offer third-party lab reports. Check these reports to make sure the product is free from harmful compounds like solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, bacteria, and mold, as these can (and probably will) mitigate the risk of allergy further.
Final Thoughts on CBD Allergies
Research into CBD is still ongoing — there is a lot that we still don’t know about the compound. However, it is assumed that there is a possibility of having an allergic reaction to CBD oil products.
If you think there is a high risk of you being allergic to CBD, it is best to avoid these products altogether. That said, you can at least reduce the risk by sticking to CBD isolates and starting out with a very low “test dose” first to check for any potential reactions. And remember, if you think you are experiencing an allergic reaction, then you should seek help from a medical professional.