Allergies are a common affliction, affecting over 50 million people in the United States every year.(1)
Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. And for some people, traditional allergy treatments just don't cut it.
Could CBD be the answer? In this blog post, we'll take a look at the research on CBD and allergies, and explore whether cannabidiol could help provide relief for allergy sufferers.
Allergy symptoms and allergic reactions can look like mild itching to severe breathing issues. Someone experiencing allergies could have:
People also have all different types of allergies, from common foods to harsh chemicals.
Forms of allergies include:(2)
Allergies happen when your body mistakes something harmless for something hazardous. The body sees this “intruder” as a threat and works to protect itself. This causes your body to release chemicals — like histamines — which cause the symptoms of allergies.
People can be allergic to all sorts of things:
Typically, allergies occur when your body reacts to something that doesn't bother most other people.
Allergies are generally treated in a few ways:(3)
CBD — as is hemp — is considered to be well-tolerated by healthy adults who use it properly. Some people may be more sensitive to CBD and experience side effects, which are normally mild and temporary. But, there are almost no cases of true allergic reactions to cannabidiol.
You do, of course, need to be aware of other ingredients in your CBD products. Each ingredient has its own potential to be allergenic.
The research on CBD and allergies is still in its early stages.
But there are signs that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties could help to relieve some allergy symptoms.(4)
Atopic dermatitis — aka eczema — is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition. Eczema is characterized by dry, itchy skin that can flare up frequently. One common type of eczema includes allergic contact dermatitis.
Allergic contact dermatitis can happen when the skin touches an allergen like:
Research suggests that cannabidiol might help ease inflammation caused by allergic contact dermatitis.(5) A topical CBD cream might soothe the irritated skin, reducing pain and itching caused by the allergen.
Read more about CBD and eczema in our blog CBD for Skin Conditions: Eczema Elixir Extraordinaire?.
There's no cure for food allergies. The only way to avoid a reaction is to completely eliminate the allergen from your diet. And severe reactions could require treatment with auto-injectable epinephrine.
There’s some ongoing research looking at oral immunotherapy — where you’re given small doses of a food with the hope that it’ll help you build up a tolerance over time.(6) This type of treatment is new and still in the experimental stages.
Unfortunately, there's not much info on CBD and food allergies as of yet.
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for hay fever. It's what happens seasonally for some people when pollen counts are high. Allergic rhinitis can also be caused by pet dander or dust mites.
Animal studies have found that rats treated with a-pinene, a terpene found in cannabis and other plants, show fewer allergy symptoms.(7) Humulene is another terpene found in cannabis that seems to exert anti-inflammatory effects on the airways.(8)
Terpenes might be a key ingredient in cannabis that helps to fight against allergy symptoms. This suggests that a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD — which contains the naturally-occurring terpenes in cannabis — might be more effective than CBD isolate for allergies.
Asthma is a chronic lung inflammation and constriction disorder that can get triggered by allergens. In animal studies, CBD has helped to reduce airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in allergic asthma.(9)
This may be because when cannabinoids like CBD interact with CB1 receptors, they have a bronchodilating effect.(10) And the interaction with CB2 receptors is associated with anti-inflammatory effects.
Read more about CBD and asthma in our blog Can CBD Help With Asthma?.
CBD is not an approved treatment for allergic reactions. If you're experiencing an allergic reaction, it's important to seek medical treatment. Even if your allergies are easy to manage, consult with your medical team and continue to take your allergy medication as prescribed.
CBD can interact with other medications you're taking for your allergies, so it's important to talk to your doctor before adding CBD into the mix.
You could also try to isolate CBD, but you won't get any of the benefits of the other cannabinoids and terpenes that’re found in cannabis. On that note, here's a quick rundown of the pros and cons of each type of CBD oil:
This type of CBD retains all the naturally-occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in the hemp plant.
With this kind of CBD, you get all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — minus all but minute trace amounts of THC.
As pure cannabidiol, this variety of CBD only contains cannabidiol and no other compounds.
Now that you've narrowed down the type of CBD, you still need to pick the right product for you and your allergies.
Common ways to get CBD into your system include:
Your CBD product of choice may depend on the type of allergy symptoms you're looking to mitigate.
CBD softgels and CBD gummies are also easy to transport if you're on the go and need your CBD fix.
Though there’s little human research on CBD and allergies as of yet, the preliminary findings are promising. Research shows that CBD seems to have effects on the body that could help to ease inflammation associated with allergies.
If you struggle with allergies, and are considering using CBD, it's important to consult with your doctor first. CBD can interact with other medications, and may not be right for everyone or every allergy.
With your care provider, you can decide if a wellness-boosting CBD regimen is right for you.
If you have the green light — give broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD oil a try! A quality CBD product containing all the naturally-occurring terpenes and flavonoids is likely your best bet.
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