CBD Oil For Allergies

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Using CBD (cannabidiol) oil for allergies may improve inflammation and congestion, but research is ongoing. Learn about CBD nasal sprays and topicals for allergies. Allergies can vary from a minor annoyance to severe and life-threatening. There are allergy treatments available over the counter but could CBD replace these? Allergies manifests as a defensive reaction of an overactive immune system. People can be allergic to food, pollen, animals, dust, and more. CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties — but should you take it for allergies?

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.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

Lu H-C, Mackie K. An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system. Biological Psychiatry. 2016;79(7):516-525. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028

Decuyper II, Van Gasse AL, Cop N, et al. Cannabis sativa allergy: looking through the fog. Allergy. 2017;72(2):201-206. doi:10.1111/all.13043

Chatkin JM, Zani-Silva L, Ferreira I. Cannabis-associated asthma and allergies. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. 2019;56:196–206. doi:10.1007/s12016-017-8644-1

Information NC for B, Pike USNL of M 8600 R, MD B, USA 20894. Allergies: overview. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2020.

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Baswan SM, Klosner AE, Glynn K, et al. Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:927-942. doi:10.2147/CCID.S286411

Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a cannabis sativa constituent. Curr Drug Saf. 2011;6(4):237-249. doi:10.2174/157488611798280924

Bruni N, Della Pepa C, Oliaro-Bosso S, Pessione E, Gastaldi D, Dosio F. Cannabinoid delivery systems for pain and inflammation treatment. Molecules. 2018;23(10):2478. doi:10.3390/molecules23102478

Cather JC, Cather JC. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2020;33(3):376-379. doi:10.1080/08998280.2020.1775437

Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: what you need to know. Updated November 2019.

CBD For Allergies: Can This Cannabinoid Ease Symptoms?

Allergies can vary from a minor annoyance to severe and life-threatening. There are allergy treatments available over the counter but could CBD replace these?

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Allergies are extremely common across the globe. More than three million Americans suffer from nut allergies alone, and over 24 million children and adults suffer from allergic rhinitis (hayfever) in the US.

As you can see, allergies are commonplace and are something that a large percentage of us have to deal with daily.

There are several treatments for preventing and controlling allergic reactions already available. However, evidence has come to light that CBD may provide a more natural alternative to traditional antihistamines.

It’s not as simple as switching over to CBD from your daily loratadine pill, though.

So, in this article, we’ll be looking at how CBD can help with allergies and how you may be able to use it to control your condition safely and responsibly.

Table of Contents

Does CBD Work For Allergies?

Yes, CBD has been found to offer support for mild to moderate allergy symptoms by reducing underlying inflammation.

However, it should be clear that CBD is not an effective solution for severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis.

With that said, CBD offers clear benefits to many of the symptoms associated with allergies, including skin rashes and urticaria, fatigue, inflammation and swelling in the airways, and headaches.

There have been several studies examining this effect, including a 2019 study that examined the effects of CBD on allergic asthma [10]. The study found that CBD was able to reduce symptoms of allergies, including inflammation in the airway leading to the lungs.

The primary mechanism CBD uses to alleviate allergy symptoms is by diminishing the inflammatory response. Most of the effects we perceive as allergy symptoms are the direct effects of inflammation caused by the body’s natural immune response when exposed to an allergen.

Allergies 101: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Allergies are bodily reactions to external substances that are otherwise harmless (allergens). The most common allergies occur from pollen, animal fur, food, and insect stings.

Allergies can be problematic. Some allergies are more of an inconvenience, such as reactions to pollen (hay fever), and others can be more dangerous such as nut and mushroom allergies.

For most, hayfever and animal fur allergies include reactions such as a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and a sore throat. However, in some cases, reactions can be more severe, with some unlucky few experiencing swelling of the face, eyes, and throat.

Food allergies can be more problematic. Nut allergies are the most common food allergy, and they can pose a large risk to those unlucky enough to experience severe reactions. Nut and other food allergies can cause swelling of the throat, tightness of the chest, and difficulty breathing. This can lead to asphyxiation if left untreated.

Common Allergy Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Itching
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Swollen lips, tongue, eyes, or face
  • Sickness & nausea
  • Red, dry, or cracked skin
  • Diarrhea

What Causes Allergies?

Allergens cause allergies. People have different reactions to allergens, with some people not reacting at all and others having mild to severe reactions. You’ll know this if you have hayfever and have been outside during spring and summer with friends without an allergy.

Although the air pollen levels are consistent at any one time, one person can suffer while another will be completely fine. It’s currently unknown why some people are more sensitive to allergens than others. However, there are a few theories on the matter.

One theory is that allergies are hereditary — a genetic trait that runs in a family’s bloodline. Another theory is that your immune system may be more sensitive. This could be down to the fact that you weren’t exposed to some particular allergens as a child; therefore, your body hasn’t adapted to responding to these allergens effectively.

Your immune system can mistake harmless allergens as a threat and trigger unnecessary responses that are recognized as the symptoms in this last section.

List of Common Allergens
  • Grass & tree pollen
  • Dust & dust mites
  • Animal fur & dander
  • Food (nuts, fruits, shellfish, dairy, & mushrooms)
  • Certain medications (ibuprofen, penicillin, aspirin)
  • Insect & plant bites/stings
  • Latex
  • Mold & other fungi
  • Certain chemicals, both industrial and domestic

Is It Possible to Prevent Allergies Naturally?

It’s definitely possible to treat allergies naturally. However, you can’t always rely on natural allergy remedies, especially if you suffer from a more severe allergy that is life-threatening.

The best natural way to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid the allergens that cause them.

Where possible, you should avoid allergens; however, we understand that this isn’t always possible. If you have an animal, drug, or food allergy, it’s relatively easy to avoid these allergens. However, if you’re allergic to pollen and dust, for example, it can be hard to avoid contact, especially if you work in dusty environments or spend a lot of time outdoors.

When you can’t avoid the allergens that trigger allergic reactions, there are some natural steps you can take to reduce symptoms and even prevent the onset of a reaction.

One of the most reported natural remedies for allergy relief is saline nasal irrigation. One 2012 report looked at ten separate studies that showed flushing nasal passages with a saline solution benefited both children and adults with hayfever [1].

Another good solution for home use is air filters. These are great for removing allergens such as pollen, animal dander, and dust from your home. This will make things far more comfortable in your home life.

Butterbur (a plant indigenous to Europe, Asia, and North America) may help relieve the itching of the eyes due to allergens, as one study discovered [2].

Another study concluded that acupuncture may provide beneficial results to those suffering from chronic allergies [3]. It’s also widely believed that eating locally produced honey will reduce hayfever symptoms if ingested year-round. This belief isn’t backed by science, but it has been used as a natural remedy for many years.

We could go on to list several natural methods that may help reduce allergies in this article but what you’re really here to find out is whether CBD will help. You’ll be happy to know that there is indeed some evidence that suggests this cannabinoid may help reduce symptoms and prevent reactions from occurring.

Let’s take a look at how CBD could help with certain allergies and some of the evidence to back up the claims.

How Can CBD Help With Allergies?

CBD may help with allergies in a number of ways.

The cannabinoid itself may help prevent allergic reactions and alleviate symptoms. As well as this, several other compounds that are present in full- and broad-spectrum CBD extracts could also help with allergies.

1. CBD May Act as an Antihistamine

Research suggests that CBD may act as an antihistamine thanks to its immune-suppressing capabilities. A 2005 study looked into the effects of CBD on cells in the respiratory system, and they found that the cannabinoid may be immunosuppressive [4].

This could indicate that the cannabinoid acts as an antihistamine when ingested, making it effective at controlling immune responses when the body comes into contact with potential allergens.

In simpler terms, this means that consuming CBD may help prevent some allergic reactions at the source before they occur. By suppressing responses from the immune system, CBD consumers may not produce reactions when exposed to their specific triggers (allergens).

The same study also noted the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD for allergy sufferers. This could be extremely beneficial for reducing the intensity of an allergic reaction if one does occur. Let’s take a look at how CBD’s anti-inflammatory response may help control allergies.

2. CBD Has Anti-Inflammatory Qualities

CBD has anti-inflammatory qualities. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a series of receptors located around the body in every human on the planet. When CBD interacts with these receptors, it can trigger certain responses. One of these interactions is an anti-inflammatory response.

There are several studies that outline CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities. Many studies have found that CBD can benefit inflammatory conditions as severe as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. This could make CBD a valuable tool for those suffering from allergies.

A common symptom associated with certain allergies is the inflammation of the nose, throat, face, eyes, and skin. CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities could help reduce these symptoms and reduce irritation from certain allergens.

One study looked into the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD and discovered that its interaction with the CB2 receptor in the ECS helped reduce oxidative stress and inflammation [5]. They concluded that CBD may indirectly improve the body’s anti-inflammatory response because of this.

3. Cannabis-Derived Terpenes May Help Allergies

CBD oil and other consumables come in a range of different extract types. We’ll give you a full rundown on these a bit further into the article, but for now, we’ll outline them for you.

You can find full-spectrum CBD, which contains all other cannabinoids and terpenes; broad-spectrum CBD, which contains all cannabinoids and terpenes except THC; and CBD isolate, which contains only pure CBD extract. Full- and broad-spectrum CBD products may help allergies more because of the cannabis-derived terpenes they contain.

Some terpenes may help reduce allergy symptoms. A 2009 study discovered that pinene (a terpene found in cannabis and hemp) reduced allergic symptoms in mice [6]. The study suggests that pinene is an extremely promising anti-allergenic agent.

Pinene can be found in relatively high percentages in full- and broad-spectrum CBD oil because it’s one of the most common terpenes found in hemp. This terpene could work hand-in-hand with CBD to combat allergies.

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Is It Possible to Develop Allergies to CBD?

It’s possible to develop allergies to several things, including CBD. Some potential allergens produce reactions in people more commonly than others. Reports of allergic reactions in CBD consumers are far less common than food and particle allergies.

That being said, there are a few cases of CBD allergies, including one case where an Epidiolex (an FDA-approved CBD drug for epilepsy) patient reacted to the substance with a skin rash [7].

There are also terpenes present in full- and broad-spectrum CBD extracts that pose as allergens to some people. Specific terpenes found in cannabis and hemp, such as pinene, linalool, and D-limonene, have been noted to cause allergic reactions in people [8].

It’s unlikely that you’ll suffer from allergic reactions from using CBD, but it’s certainly possible. If you plan on using CBD for allergies, it’s important that you test small amounts first to ensure your body doesn’t have any negative or allergic reactions.

If you’re particularly sensitive to aromatic compounds (terpenes), you should also opt for a CBD isolate rather than a broad- or full-spectrum extract. We’ll go into more detail on this in the next section.

How to Use CBD To Alleviate Allergy Symptoms

Now we’ve looked at the evidence and outlined that CBD may well help reduce allergic symptoms and prevent some allergic reactions from occurring; you’re probably wondering how you can use CBD for allergies.

In this section, we’ll be looking at how you can choose the right CBD product and start consuming it safely to see whether it helps your allergy.

It’s important to note that for severe allergies, you should consult your doctor before trying CBD. This cannabinoid may not work for everyone, and you should always keep your traditional allergy medication on hand while trying CBD for allergies.

1. Choosing The Right CBD Product

There are several CBD products available on the market, and figuring out what’s going to work best for you can be daunting. Let’s take a look at what’s currently available and where the best place to start for allergy relief is.

These are some of the most popular CBD products for managing allergies:

Out of this list, CBD oil is the best place to start if you’re looking to start using CBD for allergies. CBD oil is used sublingually (under the tongue). You drop the oil under the tongue using a dropper. This gives you great control over overdoses and allows you to monitor the amount you consume fairly accurately.

CBD oil isn’t to everyone’s taste, and some prefer to use other methods of consumption. CBD edibles such as gummies are great if you don’t like the taste of CBD oil. Edibles come with an accurate amount of the cannabinoid contained within and are easy and tasty to consume.

Vaporizers and inhalers provide fast-acting relief. When CBD is inhaled, it’s absorbed through the lung tissue, which makes for a fast and strong onset of effects. If you need immediate relief from allergy symptoms, vapes and inhalers can be good. However, if you suffer from a breathing issue, they’re best avoided.

Topical CBD products are applied to the skin. They come in the form of creams, balms, and salves. CBD topicals are perfect for relieving pain and inflammation from plant and insect stings. They get directly to the source and sometimes contain other elements such as menthol that help cool the affected area.

2. Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, or CBD Isolate?

As mentioned previously, CBD comes in a range of different extract types — full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate.

Each type of extract has its pros and cons:

  1. Full-spectrum extracts contain CBD and all other cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp, including THC, in percentages lower than 0.3%.
  2. Broad-spectrum extracts contain CBD and all other cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp, excluding THC.
  3. CBD isolates only contain cannabidiol and none of the other cannabinoids or terpenes found in hemp.

When choosing between these three extract types, we advise using full-spectrum or broad-spectrum extracts, so you get the added benefit of the entourage effect [9]. You’ll also benefit from the terpenes such as pinene that potentially have anti-allergenic qualities.

When choosing which extract is best, you should consider whether you have regular drug screenings for work. Although there’s not enough THC in full-spectrum CBD to get you high, there’s a risk that it could trigger a positive test result.

If you regularly get tested for drugs but want the entourage and terpene benefits, then you should pick a broad-spectrum CBD product. If you have negative reactions to certain cannabinoids or terpenes, then you should go for a CBD isolate. However, you won’t benefit from the additional terpenes and cannabinoids that are present in hemp when using isolate.

3. What’s The Best CBD Dosage for Allergies?

There’s no particular recommended dose when it comes to CBD for treating allergy symptoms. The amount of CBD needed comes down to several factors, including the allergy you have, your body weight, and your individual body chemistry.

You can use our CBD dosage calculator to get started, but you’ll need to tweak the dose according to your body. Some people require high doses to achieve relief from symptoms; others can get away with using very little. The only way to know for sure is to try it yourself and observe your body’s response.

How to Titrate CBD Dosages

The best way to find out how much CBD you require is to start off small and work your dosage up until noticeable effects occur. Make sure you test a small amount of your chosen cannabidiol product before beginning to use the cannabinoid regularly to ensure you don’t experience any negative effects.

Once you’ve made sure that your body doesn’t react negatively to CBD, you can start to experiment with dosages. Start with under 10 mg and work up the dose two to three milligrams per day until you notice your allergy symptoms subsiding.

Remember, CBD doesn’t work the same for everyone, and you may not experience any change to your allergy symptoms. Experiment with CBD doses responsibly, and if no changes occur after two months, perhaps it’s time to try something different for your allergy.

Bottom Line: CBD for Allergies: Does it Really Work?

There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that CBD may be an effective treatment for certain allergies. Of course, this cannabinoid isn’t the miracle drug that will cure every kind of allergy, but it may help with some.

Research shows that CBD may be an effective antihistamine and provide allergy relief through its anti-inflammatory responses. It has proved particularly effective for allergies that involve particulate matter such as pollen, dust, and animal dander.

It’s important to know that CBD will not help every allergy and won’t work the same for everyone. You also shouldn’t throw out your traditional allergy medication just yet. Although CBD can help with allergies, more research and development are needed before an allergy-specific CBD treatment is made.

When you use CBD for allergies, make sure to test a small amount first and work up dosages slowly. If your allergy is particularly dangerous, you should also consult your doctor before using CBD.

CBD For Allergies: Can Hemp Oil Help Relieve Allergy Symptoms?

Allergies manifest as adverse reactions of an overactive immune system that do not occur in healthy people. Symptoms of allergies range from sniffling, sneezing to watery eyes, itchy throat, wheezing, and asthma attacks.

According to statistics, allergies are the sixth main cause of chronic illnesses in the United States, affecting roughly 19.9 million adults, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CBD is a plant-based compound unique to the Cannabis sativa L. family. Cannabis plants contain over 400 phytochemicals on top of CBD, so it goes without saying that at least one of these compounds can trigger allergies.

While the research into allergic reactions to products like CBD oil is scarce, the cannabis plant itself has been associated with allergies.

In today’s article, we’ll cover the topic of potential allergies to CBD oil; what may trigger them; what researchers are saying, and whether full-spectrum CBD oil can cause a person to experience typical allergy symptoms.

What You Need to Know About Allergies (Causes, Symptoms & Statistics)

Over 50% of the U.S. population suffers from allergies to at least one thing. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is the most common type of allergy, affecting up to 30% of American adults and 40% of children.

There’s no cure for allergies, they can be effectively managed with the right diet, supplementation, and certain lifestyle changes. Of course, people with allergies should also avoid triggers.

Some allergies are milder than others, but there are people for whom this condition is a severe problem that requires an individual approach.

As mentioned, the symptoms of allergies include sneezing, itching, droopy eyes, a runny nose, and sometimes problems with breathing.

Allergies are triggered by a compromised immune system. The immune system controls allergic reactions; when it functions normally, it can distinguish from harmful and safe compounds to eliminate potential dangers. However, when the communication between its cells is disturbed, the immune system starts to identify normal substances as potential threats — releasing antibodies to attack them.

People with allergies produce antibodies every time they get exposed to the allergen.

The main antibody responsible for allergic reactions is histamine. The antihistamine medications are formulated to prevent antibodies from damaging the immune system. Popular antihistamine drugs include Claritin, which is available without a prescription.

Food allergies are more challenging to treat. The immune system attacks proteins in the food, causing serious symptoms such as anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis can be fatal if left without immediate aid. People with allergies usually carry special pens infused with epinephrine to stop an anaphylactic attack.

A 2009 study published in the journal Immunobiology found that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC could trigger immunosuppressive processes in an overactive immune system (1). According to the authors, these compounds may block the reactions of the immune system against the “hostile” molecules.

Does CBD Oil Help with Allergies?

Although the research into the health benefits of CBD oil for allergies is limited, multiple studies have highlighted its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant properties. Inflammation is the underlying cause of allergic reactions.

A 2011 research report published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine analyzed the potential benefits of CBD for different inflammatory disorders (2). George W. Booz, the leading researcher and a professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, summarized them in the following way:

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“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 development given its antioxidant (although relatively modest) and anti-inflammatory actions on immune cells.”

The authors concluded there’s no clinical evidence to support the theory that CBD oil relieves allergic reactions, so while some studies suggest anti-inflammatory effects exist (and they’re potent), we need more long-term clinical trials to officially support the use of CBD for allergies.

Should You Vape CBD Oil for Allergies?

CBD vapes, such as vape pens, offer the highest bioavailability of all available products. Up to 56% of the vaporized CBD ends up in your system according to various studies. However, CBD vapes often contain other compounds aside from cannabidiol, including thinners such as propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin.

The problem with propylene glycol is that it breaks down into dangerous aldehydes when heated, which can further irritate the lungs. If your allergic reactions include coughing, wheezing, or asthma attacks, CBD vape oil can do more harm than good. Some studies have found that smoking cannabis improves the lung function and capacity of asthma sufferers, but they analyzed the efficacy of medical marijuana, which contains both THC and CBD in different ratios — not to mention that the researchers used cannabis flowers, not vape oil.

How to Use CBD Oil for Allergies

CBD oil is the product of choice for many first-time users. It contains a hemp extract suspended in a carrier oil to provide higher bioavailability. CBD oils are packed in 30-ml glass bottles with droppers attached to them for precise dosing.

People take CBD oil to prevent allergies as well as to fight their symptoms. That’s because this form of consumption offers a relatively fast onset of effects — around 15-30 minutes after ingestion — with a long duration time, up to 6 hours.

CBD oil is taken under the tongue. The user needs to squeeze out the desired amount of oil using the dropper, place a few drops under the tongue, and hold it there for up to 60 seconds. This route of administration allows the CBD to absorb into the bloodstream through hundreds of tiny blood vessels in the mouth. Since most of the ingested oil avoids the digestive system, it doesn’t lose potency as much as CBD capsules or edibles.

Speaking of which, oral CBD products are a great alternative for those who would like to have a premeasured dose of CBD with each serving, as well as for people living busy lifestyles. CBD capsules and edibles mask the earthy flavor of hemp extracts, which makes them more enjoyable. The effects of CBD also last longer — up to 10 hours — despite a delayed onset. When you take a CBD capsule or gummy, they need to be processed by the digestive system, so it may take up to 2 hours until you can experience the effects.

CBD oil is a better pick if you need to quickly ease your symptoms and gauge your dose more accurately. On the other hand, capsules and edibles are better to kickstart the day and bolster your immune system against the triggers.

Can You Be Allergic to CBD Oil?

An allergy to cannabis isn’t just a poor excuse for having red eyes during your adolescent times — it’s a real thing.

So, the answer is: yes, you can be allergic to CBD. Eating, touching, or inhaling cannabis plants can trigger allergic reactions as a result of contact with pollen. Inhaling that pollen may lead to hay fever.

A 2018 study found that people with allergies to plants, dust mites, cat dander, and mold, have a higher risk of developing an allergy to cannabis (3). However, no other study has yet investigated this subject as of this writing. More quality research is needed to establish a firm connection between cannabis and allergic reactions.

Considering the risk of allergies from pollen or mold, you should be particularly careful when choosing CBD products; purchase only from companies who use organically grown hemp and test their CBD oils in third-party laboratories for potency and potential contaminants. The latter may trigger an allergy to CBD oil that may not result from CBD per se.

Possible Allergic Reactions to CBD Oil

As mentioned earlier, an allergy to CBD can manifest in many different ways. Two people may experience completely different symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell the difference between a CBD allergy and the mild side effects of CBD.

Potential adverse reactions to CBD oil include dry mouth, changes in appetite, dizziness, fatigue, and diarrhea. These aren’t the symptoms of an allergic reaction to CBD. Fortunately, the majority of these effects are nearly nonexistent in regular doses.

Here are a few possible signs of a CBD allergy:

  • Skin irritations: when you use a CBD topical, you may notice hives or a rash as the symptoms of your allergy to CBD. However, these reactions may be caused by one of the many ingredients in creams and other skincare products, so make sure to scan the list of ingredients thoroughly.
  • Dry, itchy, or red eyes: this symptom is commonly associated with cannabis users — it results from inhaling THC — but some people might experience droopy, red eyes after taking CBD oil. If you have this kind of reaction, it might be a sign that you’re allergic to CBD.
  • Migraines: While a slight headache might occur after taking a higher dose of CBD, migraines are a severe reaction that can indicate an allergy to some of the ingredients in CBD oil.
  • Breathing difficulty: If you experience difficulty breathing, seek immediate help. This is most likely the side effect of poor-quality products that contain mold or hazardous additives.

People with plant allergies are advised to try CBD isolate instead of full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD. The latter is made using the entire plant, meaning they contain cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and plant waxes. Such products carry a higher risk of triggering an allergic reaction.

You can try a few different CBD products — full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate — to find out which form of CBD works without any adverse reactions. We also encourage you to check with a doctor for medical advice on what to do when you start experiencing the symptoms.

Studies on Allergic Reactions to CBD Oil

  • A study conducted by the Duke University School of Medicine found that about 20% of the 100 people they tested had allergic reactions to linalool, while 8% were allergic to limonene. These are the two most commonly found terpenes in full-spectrum CBD oils (4).
  • Doctors from the University of California, San Diego, published a letter entitled “Marijuana and stoned fruit” in the Annals of Allergies and Asthma, where they reported a 24-year-old male marijuana daily user experienced an anaphylactic reaction after eating yogurt with hemp seeds (5).
  • In a 2013 study published in the Internal Archives of Allergy and Immunology, 21 patients with food allergies were tested in terms of reactivity to cannabis lipid transfer proteins (LTP), which are potential allergens (6). Twelve participants showed signs of allergies to cannabis, and all 12 had severe symptoms of food allergy than those without an allergy to the plant.

CBD & Allergies: Bottom Line

Although researchers have yet to fully understand the link between CBD and allergies, some studies have reported that the cannabinoid has remarkable anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation lies at the roots of all allergies, so while CBD won’t cure them, preliminary research and anecdotal reports indicate that CBD oil may be able to help ease the symptoms.

That is, of course, if you aren’t allergic to cannabis. CBD itself may not be an allergen, but in combination with the remaining 400 phytochemicals from cannabis, it can trigger an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, sniffling, or red, droopy eyes. Allergies may also be caused by other ingredients in CBD oil, such as synthetic additives.

If you want to reduce the risk of experiencing an allergy to CBD, it’s best to purchase from a trustworthy company that sells high-quality lab-tested products. Always make sure to check for third-party lab reports — or Certificates of Analysis (COA) — to check if the product is free of contaminants, solvents, or plant residue. Spending some extra time on research will save you money on CBD oil.

As the number of CBD users grows, researchers will be able to collect more information about potential allergic reactions and how CBD oil can mitigate their impact on our health.

Do you take CBD for allergies? Or do you know someone who is allergic to CBD oil?

References:

  • 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
  1. Booz, George W. “Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress.” Free radical biology & medicine vol. 51,5 (2011): 1054-61. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.01.007
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.2018.01.01
  5. 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
Livvy Ashton

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.

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