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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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Daily CBD , last updated on December 17, 2021

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.

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.

Two CBD oil containers and a couple of hemp leaves over white background.

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. 

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. 

Middle-aged woman with hand on her chin, thinking.

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.

CBD concentrate vaporizer, cartridge and CBD gummies over white background

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.


References

  1. Hermelingmeier, K. E., Weber, R. K., Hellmich, M., Heubach, C. P., & Mösges, R. (2012). Nasal irrigation as an adjunctive treatment in allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American journal of rhinology & allergy, 26(5), e119-e125.
  2. Bielory, L., & Heimall, J. (2003). Review of complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of ocular allergies. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 3(5), 395-399.
  3. Feng, S., Han, M., Fan, Y., Yang, G., Liao, Z., Liao, W., & Li, H. (2015). Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American journal of rhinology & allergy, 29(1), 57-62.
  4. Small-Howard, A. L., Shimoda, L. M., Adra, C. N., & Turner, H. (2005). Anti-inflammatory potential of CB1-mediated cAMP elevation in mast cells. Biochemical Journal, 388(2), 465-473.
  5. Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2020). Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol. Antioxidants, 9(1), 21.
  6. Nam, S. Y., Chung, C. K., Seo, J. H., Rah, S. Y., Kim, H. M., & Jeong, H. J. (2014). The therapeutic efficacy of α-pinene in an experimental mouse model of allergic rhinitis. International immunopharmacology, 23(1), 273-282.
  7. Singh, J., & Antimisiaris, M. F. (2020). Epidiolex‐induced skin rash. Epileptic Disorders, 22(4), 511-514.
  8. Nath, N. S., Liu, B., Green, C., & Atwater, A. R. (2017). Contact allergy to hydroperoxides of linalool and D-limonene in a US population. Dermatitis, 28(5), 313-316.
  9. Russo, E. B. (2019). The case for the entourage effect and conventional breeding of clinical cannabis: no “strain,” no gain. Frontiers in plant science, 9, 1969.
  10. Vuolo, F., Abreu, S. C., Michels, M., Xisto, D. G., Blanco, N. G., Hallak, J. E., … & Dal-Pizzol, F. (2019). Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma. European journal of pharmacology, 843, 251-259.

Health Benefits of CBD

Health Benefits of CBD