Spending time in nature is one of the best ways to keep your immune system working properly. Whether you go camping, have a picnic, or just go for a walk every day, all these activities can have a relaxing and therapeutic effect on your body.
However, for millions of Americans out there, spending time in nature when the allergy season kicks in is anything but relaxing. After all, as soon as allergy symptoms rain on this parade, many people wish they could fall asleep for that period, just like bears do when the winter is coming.
Both seasonal and food allergies can lower your quality of life. And while avoiding foods that trigger allergy, doing so is easier said than done when it comes to triggers such as pollen.
Allergy medications can bring short-term relief, but they cause side effects such as sleepiness and problems with focus.
For these reasons, allergy sufferers are seeking out natural remedies to combat their allergy symptoms as well as bolster their immune systems.
Here we explain how allergies work and discuss the potential health benefits of CBD in this regard.
CBD for Allergies: What You Need to Know?
Many people who take CBD for allergies report that it helps ease their allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, the research regarding these benefits is scarce — there have not yet been any studies conducted on using CBD oil for allergies. However, research does show that CBD has potent anti-inflammatory qualities due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which is believed to play an important role in the regulation of immune response.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system. In normal conditions, the immune system effectively detects and eliminates, or neutralizes, harmful compounds in the body. For some individuals, however, exposure to seemingly harmless particles in the air or food ingredients cause this system to go haywire, resulting in annoying allergy symptoms.
Some of the most common environmental allergens include:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Certain proteins in food
In many cases, these symptoms deteriorate during certain seasons, such as spring when flowers and trees start to produce pollen during blooming. These allergies are known as seasonal allergies.
The second type occurs when a person is allergic to certain foods. In this scenario, the immune system recognizes potentially neutral proteins as “enemies” and tries to fight them. Similar to seasonal allergies, their food counterparts cause inflammation and result in a series of unpleasant symptoms, such as swelling, itching, coughing, and redness on the body.
Here we share more details about the symptoms of allergies.
Symptoms of Allergies
When your immune system becomes hyperactive, it starts releasing different chemicals, such as histamine, in mast cells. Histamine and other compounds are what triggers allergy symptoms people experience. As mentioned above, activation of the immune system causes inflammation all over the body, including nasal pathways, the eyes, skin, and throat.
People with allergies typically experience the following symptoms:
- Runny nose and nasal congestion
People with asthma can have their breathing worsened by allergy symptoms, which may require medical attention.
When it comes to food allergies, they can be more severe. If you’re seriously allergic to certain foods, they may even trigger an anaphylactic shock and lead to suffocation and death if left without immediate help.
How Are Allergies Typically Treated?
While food allergies can be easily avoided simply by not eating certain foods, seasonal allergies are more challenging to treat.
Most allergy sufferers use antihistamine medications during allergy seasons. These medications inhibit the release of histamine, which is the key player in allergy symptoms. Although novel, non-drowsy versions of these medications are available without a prescription. Still, some people experience fatigue when taking them.
For nasal congestion and runny nose, antihistamines give the front seat to nasal sprays, which are believed to work better for these symptoms. The sprays are either steroid-based or saline-based. When it comes to steroid use, long-term treatment may reduce thinned nasal tissues, increasing the risk of nosebleeds.
Lifestyle changes, such as closing windows or using air filters, may also help reduce the severity of seasonal allergies. Many people are also seeking aid in alternative therapies, such as probiotics, herbs, essential oils, or botanical extracts like CBD oil.
Does CBD Oil Help with Allergies?
CBD encourages the body to produce more of its own cannabinoids and maintain their optimal levels. As a result, these cannabinoids can influence a wide range of biological functions in your body, including its immune response.
CBD can help with allergies in the following ways:
- CBD can strengthen your immune system – allergies don’t just come out of the blue. They can develop after months or even years after the exposure of your immune system to supposed allergens. A healthy immune system is less likely to act out in order to eliminate the falsely detected irritants. When taking CBD for allergies, you’re stimulating your endocannabinoid system to boost the functioning of the immune system through its interaction with cannabinoid receptors in the immune cells.
- CBD is a remarkable anti-inflammatory compound – CBD is widely appreciated for its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is the main cause of allergies, contributing to the puffiness, aches, and soreness you experience during allergy seasons. It also causes pain during sinus infection resulting from an allergy attack. Addressing inflammation may reduce discomfort.
- CBD acts as an antimicrobial agent – allergens tend to make you more prone to infection. CBD and terpenes in full-spectrum CBD oil are known for their antimicrobial effects and thus can be used for allergies to prevent such incidence. This is possible because CBD aids your body in fighting off a true infection instead of attempting to eliminate falsely identified foes.
- CBD reduces stress – allergies are annoying both physically and mentally, and the increased amount of stress can make your symptoms worse. When you regularly supplement CBD, you can get through the distraction of the sniffles, sneezes, and stuffy head without getting over the edge.
CBD Oil for Food Allergies
As we said, food allergies can be easily avoided by simply not consuming the food that causes allergic reactions. When you accidentally eat this kind of food, you may experience tingling in the mouth, hives, and swelling of the lips. Similar allergic symptoms occur when an insect stings you; this, too, may cause swelling at the itching site, and shortness of breath. With a food allergy, you may experience a mix of these symptoms.
With food allergies, there’s a risk of anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening condition that occurs rapidly and requires immediate medical care.
CBD can, however, address the symptoms of regular allergic reactions, such as the aforementioned itching, swelling in the throat, inflammation, and headaches.
CBD Oil for Seasonal Allergies
The antimicrobial properties of CBD may help alleviate the side-effects of seasonal allergies. High-potency full-spectrum CBD oil is believed to open up sinuses and reduce pressure in the nasal cavities, preventing congestion. Seasonal allergies cause inflammation in the throat and sinuses, making it difficult to breathe, eat, drink, and talk without irritation. According to current research, consuming CBD oil may reduce these symptoms and contribute to less painful seasonal allergies.
Wondering how CBD works for allergies?
Here’s the science.
Explaining the Benefits of CBD Oil for Allergies
It appears that CBD may provide relief from allergy in the following ways:
- CBD may inhibit the release of histamine (1)
- CBD triggers an anti-inflammatory response (2)
- CBD reduces the symptoms of allergic reactions (3)
According to a 2005 study, CBD may block the release of histamines in a similar fashion to antihistamine medications, but with higher efficacy. The release of histamines leads to many allergic reactions, such as sneezing, wheezing, droopy eyes, and runny nose.
The release of histamines causes inflammation in the body. On top of the potential inhibitory effects on this chemical, CBD reduces inflammation in the body, curbing the above symptoms as well as the swelling and irritation that are experienced during a reaction.
Medical researchers recognize the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. Numerous studies have highlighted CBD as a novel anti-inflammatory drug due to its suppression of specific proteins and cells without shutting down the immune system like commonly prescribed immunosuppressants.
These health benefits stem from CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which is a vast regulatory network composed of receptors that help regulate essential processes in the body, including the regulation of immune cells. Using CBD may lead to improved communication between these cells, strengthening the immune system, and making allergies more manageable.
Nevertheless, we need more longitudinal studies in humans that would investigate the effects of CBD on allergies to draw further conclusions.
How to Use CBD Oil for Allergies?
Many people claim they haven’t experienced immediate relief from their symptoms when taking CBD oil for allergy. Instead, they mention the importance of consistency, as dealing with allergies requires the immune system to get back on track once its functioning has been compromised. CBD oil for allergies works best taken daily as part of your self-care routine.
There are several forms of CBD to choose from, including:
- Oils: CBD concentrated oil is the most versatile way to consume cannabidiol. It contains a hemp extract suspended in a carrier oil for easier dosing and higher absorption. Simply draw your preferred amount of CBD into the attached dropper, place it under the tongue for up to 1 minute, and swallow.
- Capsules: Capsules are better suited for users who dislike the flavor of natural CBD oil. They contain a premeasured dose per serving, which takes away the guesswork. You can take CBD oil pills anywhere on the go, keep them in your bag, or place them on your office desk without anyone raising their brows when you take your chill-pill.
- Edibles: CBD products like gummies and honey sticks are becoming more popular these days. Not only are they easy to take, but they also provide a fun way to consume your daily dose. CBD edibles come in different shapes, sizes, formulas, and flavors, which makes them even more appealing. However, since they need to be processed in the digestive system (like capsules), they lose some of their potency on the way.
- Vapes: Vaping CBD is fast and easy. You just load a vape pen with your favorite CBD E-liquid and puff it whenever you need your dose, and wherever vaping is allowed. Vaporized CBD demonstrates the highest bioavailability of all consumption methods, with up to 56% of the inhaled compound ending up in your system.
- Topicals: If you’re looking for an alternative to corticosteroid creams, using CBD-infused topicals give you an easy way to deliver a decent dose of CBD to address the visible symptoms of your allergy, reducing skin irritation, redness, and swelling. When applied topically, the CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the skin’s epidermis layer.
How Much CBD Should I Take for Allergies?
Everybody is different and so will be their response to CBD. Factors like age, weight, gender, metabolism, diet, and severity of your allergy play an important role in determining the right dosage range.
When it comes to general supplementation — the way you want to use CBD oil for allergy prevention — people usually benefit from doses between 10–50 mg CBD daily. If you want to find a therapeutic dose to ease the symptoms of allergic reactions, we suggest that you start low and gradually increase the dose to the point when you experience sufficient relief from your symptoms.
There’s no better way to find it out than to become a living experiment.
Don’t worry, CBD is considered a safe compound, with no serious side effects on our health. People generally don’t report any adverse reactions, but studies have found that taking very high doses of CBD oil may cause dry mouth, appetite fluctuation, temporary drop in blood pressure, and sedation. Ingesting excess amounts of the carrier oil, in which the CBD is suspended, may also lead to diarrhea.
If you want to determine the right dosage of CBD oil for your allergies, we encourage you to consult a holistic doctor knowledgeable about CBD and cannabis in general. Doing so will also help you avoid potential interactions with any medications you might be taking, as CBD is known to use the same enzymes that metabolize active ingredients in drugs.
Can You Have An Allergic Reaction to CBD Oil?
A 2018 study investigated different allergens and the way they interact with the body. The authors found that people suffering from allergies to cat dander, mold, dust mites, and plants, have a higher risk of experiencing an allergic reaction to cannabis (4). However, no other study has yet followed up on the subject.
Other natural compounds, such as terpenes in full-spectrum CBD oil, may also trigger your immune system. A study from the Duke University School of Medicine found that about 20% of the participants demonstrated allergic reactions to linalool, while 8% were allergic to limonene (5). These are two of the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis and its derivatives.
Another study conducted by doctors from the University of California, San Diego, found that a 24-year-old male marijuana daily user experienced an anaphylactic reaction after eating yogurt containing hemp seeds (6).
Finally, a study published in the Internal Archives of Allergy examined 21 patients with food allergies in terms of allergic reactions to cannabis. Twelve participants tested positive for cannabis allergy, and all 12 had stronger food allergy symptoms than those who weren’t allergic to the plant (7).
But is it possible to have an allergic reaction to CBD? Has anyone ever suffered from consuming pure cannabidiol?
There’s one old study (from 1971) that associated THC with the onset of an allergic reaction (8). Since CBD and THC have a similar structure, there is a chance that CBD can also trigger allergies. However, when we consider the anti-inflammatory and histamine-blocking properties of CBD, such reactions are highly unlikely to occur.
Final Verdict: Should You Use CBD Oil for Allergies and Prevention?
Millions of people across the world suffer from food and seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, conventional treatments are often ineffective, and even when they relieve some of the symptoms, they also produce adverse effects, ranging from drowsiness to headaches, and nausea.
CBD may offer an alternative thanks to its immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps inhibit the activity of mast cells that signal the release of histamines. Its anti-inflammatory effects help curb the inflammation that troubles people during an allergic reaction.
By combining these two properties, CBD helps both alleviate the symptoms of allergic reactions and address the underlying cause of the condition. Whether these effects apply to large samples of the population is still to be determined by clinical studies; nevertheless, the findings coming from current research are promising for allergy sufferers, to say the least.
- Rieder, Sadiye Amcaoglu et al. “cannabinoid-induced apoptosis in immune cells as a pathway to immunosuppression.” Immunobiology vol. 215,8 (2010): 598-605. doi:10.1016/j.imbio.2009.04.001
- Nagarkatti, Prakash et al. “Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.” Future medicinal chemistry vol. 1,7 (2009): 1333-49. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93
- Vuolo, Francieli et al. “Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma.” European journal of pharmacology vol. 843 (2019): 251-259. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.11.029
- Min, Jin-Young, and Kyoung-Bok Min. “Marijuana use is associated with hypersensitivity to multiple allergens in US adults.” Drug and alcohol dependence vol. 182 (2018): 74-77. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.09.039
- Nath, Neel Som et al. “Contact Allergy to Hydroperoxides of Linalool and D-Limonene in a US Population.” Dermatitis: contact, atopic, occupational, drug vol. 28,5 (2017): 313-316. doi:10.1097/DER.0000000000000318
- Bhatia, Prerana et al. “Marijuana and stoned fruit.” Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology: official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology vol. 120,5 (2018): 536-537. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2018.01.017
- Ebo, D G et al. “New food allergies in a European non-Mediterranean region: is Cannabis sativa to blame?.” International archives of allergy and immunology vol. 161,3 (2013): 220-8. doi:10.1159/000346721
- Liskow, B et al. “Allergy to marihuana.” Annals of internal medicine vol. 75,4 (1971): 571-3. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-75-4-571