Some people may experience an allergic reaction to CBD or to other ingredients in the CBD product. It is important to only buy high-quality CBD products to avoid possible allergic reactions. Most people take CBD without any adverse effects, but in rare cases, a bad reaction can occur. Here's when you should be concerned… CBD is a plant-based compound, and allergies to plants are a real thing. But can you actually be allergic to CBD oil? Is it CBD or other hemp compounds that can trigger an allergic reaction?
Can You Have Allergic Reactions to CBD Oil Products?
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology research indicates that more than 50 million people in the United States experience allergies each year. It also says that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness. It is natural to ask if people experience CBD oil allergies because CBD and other compounds come from the hemp plant, and plants are often the cause of allergies. The answer is complicated because there is limited research coupled with the fact that CBD oil contains numerous compounds and usually other ingredients. The following sections discuss what is known about CBВ oil allergic reactions.
TLDR: Some people may experience an allergic reaction to CBD or to other ingredients in the CBD product. There is minimal research to date on the relationship between CBD and allergies. The allergic reaction may be due to something like terpenes, botanicals, and interactions with medications. It is important to only buy CBD products from companies that provide a Certificate of Analysis showing all the ingredients in the product.
Can You Be Allergic to CBD?
The quick answer to whether you can be allergic to CBD is “yes.” Some people may have an allergic reaction to CBD gummies, topicals, oils or any other product containing CBD. The issue is that people may think they are having an allergic reaction to CBD when it can be something else.
Another point to keep in mind is that some low-quality CBD products may not have all of the ingredients listed on the label or do not use quality-control procedures during the manufacturing process. You could have an allergic reaction and think it is due to CBD when it might be due to contaminants like pesticides or heavy metals.
What is an Allergy?
In simple terms, an allergy is the immune system’s reaction to what is perceived as harmful. The immune system produces immunoglobulin E antibodies in response to allergens. The symptoms are produced to make up for the allergic reaction. You can be allergic to drugs, food, mold, pollen, latex, insects and pet urine, dander or saliva.
Research on Allergies to CBD
There has been some limited research conducted on allergic reactions to CBD. Following are a few of the studies.
- A 2005 study on fragrance terpenes found that the terpenes linalool, limonene and caryophyllene are not allergenic but become allergenic when exposed to air. Since this was a fragrance study, study participants were tested with skin patches. Only 2.9 percent had a reaction, and 58 percent of them had a history of allergic reactions.
- A 2013 study reported in the Internal Archives of Allergy and Immunology said that 12 participants out of 21 people were allergic to cannabis. However, all 21 people had food allergies.
- A 2017 Duke University study reports that 20 percent of study participants experienced an allergic reaction to the terpene linalool. Another 8 percent were allergic to terpene limonene.
- A study in 2018 found that people who have allergies to things like plants, mold and other items have a greater risk of being allergic to cannabis. If something like pollen makes it into a CBD product, you might have an allergic reaction.
Potential Allergic Reactions
Any allergic reaction can lead to different symptoms. Some of the common ones include the following.
- Itchy, dry eyes
- Skin rash or blisters
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
In other words, if there is a reaction to CBD oil products, the symptoms are likely to be similar to an allergic reaction to something like pollen. However, there is always the possibility of more severe reactions, so it is vital to take any symptom seriously. If you experience an allergic reaction, it is wise to see an immunologist and be allergy tested. If you are allergic to CBD oil, there is a good chance you have other allergies, like a food allergy or a plant allergy.
Keep in mind that an allergic reaction to CBD and experiencing side effects from using CBD are not the same. Side effects are physical reactions that do not include an immune system response. For example, diarrhea and fatigue are possible side effects.
Always Buy Quality Products
Some people may experience an allergic reaction to CBD oil products. It is always important to buy high-quality CBD products from companies with a reputation for honesty and transparency. Always review the Certificate of Analysis (COA) to learn about all the ingredients in the product.
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About the Author
Michael Levin is a CBD enthusiast, a researcher, writer and editor in the cannabis space, experienced CBD user and educator. He believes CBD can help improve our overall health and wellbeing.
Bad Reaction to CBD? [When & When Not to Be Concerned]
CBD products are becoming increasingly popular among people of all demographics regardless of gender, age, and even nationality. There has also been an increase in cases of people reporting adverse effects of CBD. Some of these symptoms are considered to be side effects or sensitivity to CBD, while other symptoms may be allergic reactions to CBD.
Humans commonly experience allergic reactions to certain types of plant pollen. Since CBD originates from the cannabis plant, it’s easy to wonder whether you could be allergic to CBD, and more importantly, whether you should be concerned about it.
Bad reactions to CBD certainly aren’t common, but they are possible.
An allergic reaction can be induced by any product that the body deems to be an allergen. Most commonly, allergies occur from medication, insect stings, foods, pet dander, and pollen. Since CBD comes from the cannabis plant, CBD contains properties like histamine and pollen that could cause allergic reactions.
A bad reaction to CBD can range from an itchy nose to breathing problems – which is a lot more serious. To understand the difference between exhibiting side effects of CBD and being allergic to CBD, we need to understand the different symptoms of each. In other words, determining when and when not to be concerned about having a bad reaction to CBD, we will look at the varying degrees of having a “bad reaction.”
Bad Reactions to CBD
A bad reaction to CBD can manifest in several ways. Two people won’t necessarily experience the same symptoms. Also, it can be tricky to distinguish between a CBD allergy and the normal run of the mill CBD side effects. Remember, side effects are not considered to be allergic reactions to CBD.
Potential side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, lethargy, nausea, diarrhea, and drowsiness. Generally speaking, these effects aren’t anything to be concerned about and are typically caused by using too much CBD at once or just having sensitivity to CBD.
CBD allergies, on the contrary, have different effects. An allergic reaction transpires when the immune system overreacts to any substance that the body deems to be a threat. Here are four signs that may suggest that you are having an allergic reaction to CBD:
- Dry, Red, or Itchy Eyes: Marijuana is known for causing red eyes due to dryness. But THC is the culprit of this, not CBD. That said, some users could experience this after using CBD. If you have bloodshot eyes or experience excessive watering, it could be an allergic reaction rather than a side effect.
- Migraines: Some CBD users may experience a slight headache for the first couple of uses, but migraines are an indication of something more serious.
- Skin Irritations: Especially in the case of topical CBD products, some users may develop hives or a rash. This could be caused by the CBD, but it may also result from one of the many other ingredients found in balms and creams.
- Respiratory Problems: If you are having trouble breathing after consuming CBD, you should seek medical help immediately. Breathing issues linked to CBD products are likely the result of poor-quality products that contain contaminants, such as mold or pollen.
Exploring CBD side effects…
What Makes a Person Allergic to CBD?
If you’re wondering why anyone could be allergic to CBD, the short answer is histamines.
Histamines are hormones that are secreted by mast cells in the body. Mast cells form part of the body’s immune system and are located throughout the body. The moment the mast cells notice any foreign substances in the body, it repels them by secreting histamines. As a result, the body triggers a range of reactions. They range from skin irritations and rashes to sneezing, coughing, watering eyes, dizziness, and other symptoms that we have already addressed above.
People with plant allergies are often advised to try to avoid CBD products, especially full-spectrum ones.
Full-spectrum CBD products contain a variety of compounds, and it can be difficult to tell what caused the bad/allergic reaction. It could be plant waxes, coconut oil, trace amounts of THC, pollen, hemp seed oil, or any other ingredient in the product.
How Are CBD Allergies Diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose CBD allergies using two methods: A skin prick test or blood test. The skin prick test is simple, and you get results quickly, but it’s not as accurate as a blood test.
With a skin prick test, a diluted allergen, like CBD, is applied to the skin with a needle. You wait 15 minutes and check if the area on which the CBD was applied appears to be red, inflamed, or itchy. If this is the case, you may be allergic to CBD.
A blood test, on the other hand, is when a sample of blood is drawn to check if there are any CBD antibodies present. In the case of there being more antibodies than expected, you are likely to be allergic to CBD.
Final Thoughts on a Bad Reaction to CBD
CBD is known to be a natural, safe, and well-tolerated compound. For the most part, there is nothing to be concerned about when it comes to the potential side effects of CBD. However, there is a cause for concern for those who have an allergic reaction to CBD. Especially in cases where you experience difficulty breathing.
For this reason, you should be careful when consuming CBD. It’s a great idea to begin with a small amount of CBD to check if you notice any adverse side effects. You should also consult with a doctor to check if they can give you any medical advice regarding what to do if you experience an allergic reaction.
Also, keep in mind that although the general side effects of CBD aren’t believed to be all that harmful, CBD is still a fairly new compound, and research is still being done to determine how exactly CBD could affect users.
CBD Allergies: Can You Have Allergic Reaction to CBD Oil (Itching & Rash)?
Allergies are adverse reactions of the immune system that are not triggered in healthy people. Symptoms of allergies include sniffling, watery eyes, itching, or asthma.
According to official statistics, allergies are the No. 6 cause of chronic illnesses in the United States. Hay fever affects roughly 19.9 adults, as reported in 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CBD is a phytochemical. In other words, it comes from plants — specifically, from cannabis plants.
Given this, it’s natural to wonder whether CBD oil, a product that contains over 400 phytochemicals aside from CBD, can trigger allergies.
Though there’s not much research regarding allergic reactions to CBD oil, the cannabis plant itself has been linked to allergies.
Today, we’ll elaborate on potential allergies to CBD oil, why they happen, what researchers are saying, and whether you can still use CBD if the full-spectrum oil causes you to experience the aforementioned pesky symptoms.
Allergies in the United States in Numbers
Over 50% of the U.S. population has allergies to at least one thing. Hay fever — allergic rhinitis — is the most common allergy, affecting between 10 and 30% of all American adults, and may affect up to 40% of children.
While there’s no cure for allergies, they can be effectively managed with proper nutrition, supplementation, and a healthy lifestyle. Of course, avoiding triggers is also a good strategy.
Some allergies are more severe than others and may require a complex treatment
Below we break down the mechanism of allergies.
A Brief Overview of Allergies and How They Work
Allergies are a common health problem. They manifest in itching, sneezing, a runny nose, droopy eyes, and sometimes difficulty breathing.
But what is the root of allergies? Where do they start?
The answer is: A compromised immune system.
The immune system controls allergic reactions. A properly functioning immune system can tell the difference between harmful and safe compounds to eliminate potential dangers. However, when it goes out of whack, it starts to identify benign substances as potential dangers — creating antibodies to attack these “irritants.”
In fact, the body releases antibodies every time a person is exposed to the allergen.
Histamine is the antibody with plant allergies like hay fever. The antihistamine medications work to prevent antibodies from causing damage to the immune system. Common antihistamine drugs include Claritin, which is available over the counter. CBD allergies fall into the category of plant allergies.
Food allergies are more difficult to treat. The immune system becomes aggressive against proteins in the food, triggering serious symptoms like anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis can be fatal if left without immediate help. Sufferers usually carry special pens with epinephrine to treat an allergic reaction once it begins.
In a 2009 study published in Immunobiology, the authors suggested that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC could take part in immunosuppressive processes (1). This means that they may block the reactions of the immune system against the triggers.
Does it mean you could use CBD oil for allergies directly as well as for preventative measures?
Not exactly, but we’ll get to that later on.
Some people are worried that CBD might cause allergies. Is this claim backed by any scientific evidence, or is it just a rumor?
Can You Be Allergic to CBD?
An allergy to cannabis is a real thing. By the same token, a person might be allergic to CBD. Inhaling, eating, or touching cannabis plants can cause allergic reactions due to contact with pollen. When you inhale that pollen, you may suffer from hay fever.
In a 2018 study, the research team found that people with allergies to mold, dust mites, cat dander, and plants, have a higher risk of developing an allergy to cannabis (2). However, this is the only study regarding this subject as of today. More research is needed to establish a clear link between cannabis and allergic reactions.
Since it’s possible to be allergic to cannabis if you’re allergic to pollen or mold, contaminants in CBD products should be the main concern for you.
When it comes to cannabinoids, things look quite similar. A 1971 study found that THC could produce an allergic reaction (3). CBD and THC have similar chemical structures, meaning that CBD also has the potential to trigger an allergy. However, it’s important to note that the side effects of CBD are different from allergic reactions. The study also didn’t focus specifically on CBD.
Common Allergic Reactions to CBD Oil
A CBD allergy can show up in a variety of ways. Two people may have completely different symptoms, so it can be tricky to distinguish between a CBD allergy from the mild side effects of CBD.
Potential adverse reactions to CBD include dizziness, dry mouth, lethargy, nausea, and diarrhea. These are not the symptoms of an allergy to CBD. Moreover, they are nearly nonexistent in normal doses.
CBD oil allergies have the following effects:
- Dry, Itchy, or Red Eyes: Although this side effect is associated with taking THC due to its ability to dilate blood vessels in the eyes, some users might experience this after taking CBD oil. If you have this kind of reaction, or your eyes are watering, it might be the symptom of a CBD allergy.
- Breathing Difficulty: If you have difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention. With CBD products, this side effect may stem from poor-quality products that contain dangerous additives or mold.
- Skin Irritations: when you use CBD topically, you may notice a rash or hives as the manifestation of your allergy to CBD. However, this could also be triggered by one of the many other ingredients in creams and gels, so make sure to read the list of ingredients carefully.
- Migraines: While some CBD users may experience a slight headache at higher doses, migraines are a severe symptom that can indicate an allergy to some of the compounds in CBD oil.
People who are allergic to CBD oil are advised to try CBD isolate instead of full-spectrum products. Full-spectrum CBD oils are made using the whole plant, so they contain cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, proteins, vitamins, trace minerals, and plant wax. As a result, there’s a higher risk of experiencing an allergic reaction.
It’s a good idea to try a few different CBD products with various spectra to determine which form of CBD works without triggering allergies. You should also check with a doctor to seek medical advice about what to do when the symptoms kick in.
Research on CBD Oil & Allergies
- Researchers from the Duke University School of Medicine found that about 20% of the 100 people they tested experienced allergic reactions to linalool, while 8% were allergic to limonene (4). These two molecules are commonly found in cannabis extracts such as CBD oil.
- In a letter entitled “Marijuana and stoned fruit,” written by doctors from the University of California, San Diego, and published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, a 24-year-old male marijuana daily user had an anaphylactic reaction after eating yogurt with hemp seeds (5).
- A 2013 study from the Internal Archives of Allergy and Immunology examined 21 patients with food allergies for reactivity to cannabis lipid transfer proteins (LTP), which are alleged allergens (6). Twelve subjects were allergic to cannabis, and all 12 had more severe symptoms of food allergy than those who weren’t allergic to cannabis.
Can CBD Oil Help with Allergies?
1While research supporting the idea that CBD could alleviate allergies and their symptoms are limited, there are some studies regarding its general effects on inflammation, which is one of the body’s triggers of an allergic reaction.
In a 2011 research report published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, the authors investigated the potential impact of CBD on various inflammatory conditions (7). George W. Booz, a professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, suggested in the report:
“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 drug development given its antioxidant (although relatively modest) and anti-inflammatory actions on immune cells.”
According to the research team, there is no clinical evidence CBD oil could alleviate allergies, so while we have some laboratory studies suggesting anti-inflammatory effects exist, we need more longitudinal research to draw definitive conclusions.
Final Thoughts on CBD Allergies
If you want to minimize the risk of experiencing an allergic reaction to CBD, it’s best to purchase from a reputable brand that sells high-quality products. A lot of allergies caused by CBD oils appear to stem from unwanted substances such as contaminants, solvents, or plant residue. Always make sure to check for third-party lab reports when browsing different CBD products. It might be worth spending some extra time to ensure you get a decent product.
Right now, research on CBD allergies is in the early stage. As the number of CBD users grows, so will the data about potential allergic reactions. An allergy to CBD is extremely rare, but people with pre-existing allergies or other health conditions should take particular caution.