Is CBD Good For Allergies?
Is CBD good for allergies? Does CBD help with hay fever? Almost 10 million people suffer from allergies and hay fever in the United Kingdom. Over 50% of people in the US have allergies to at least something—including food allergies, skin allergies, or asthma.
Allergies are bothersome because the symptoms are persistent and may last for weeks or months. As long as allergens—the substances causing an allergic reaction—are around, allergy sufferers will need some sort of relief from their symptoms to lead a more-or-less normal life.
The most common means of staving off the annoying and irritating symptoms of allergies are antihistamines.
Antihistamines stop the body from releasing histamines, the chemicals responsible for allergic reactions. However, antihistamines have some side-effects and can display increased tolerance the longer people take them. Therefore, allergy sufferers are looking into natural alternatives to antihistamines.
One of these is CBD. Research suggests that CBD may possess anti-inflammatory qualities. Since allergies are a local inflammation of the nose and other tissues, researchers have started looking into CBD as a possible remedy for allergies.
What are allergies and how do they appear?
Allergies are an oversensitive reaction of the human immune system to a foreign substance, called an allergen.
What are allergens?
Most of the time, allergens are regular substances that are not dangerous to the human body. Allergens can be pet fur and pet dander, dust mites, mould, pollen, or even cigarette smoke. Sometimes, allergens are foods such as seafood, strawberries, or nuts.
For most people, these substances are perfectly safe. However, particular substances cause allergies to some people, whose immune system reacts to these as if they were harmful intruders.
How does the body fight allergens?
Once the body has recognized a particular substance as an intruder, it secretes histamines from the mast cells. The mast cells are located under the skin, around the blood vessels, and around the nerves.
Histamines cause a localized inflammation, meant to stop the allergen.
This inflammation is what causes swelling of the nasal tissues. It also makes your skin itchy, makes you sneeze, and gives you a runny nose.
The human body protects itself from intruders by inflaming the tissues around them. In the case of allergies, the immune system misperceives a benign substance as a deadly threat.
It seems then that our body is already equipped with the solutions to fight allergens, so does the question “Is CBD good for allergies” make sense?
What are the symptoms of allergies?
Most people will experience a runny nose, watery eyes, and sinus pressure. They may also suffer from puffiness and difficulty in breathing, alongside sneezing and wheezing. Sometimes, they may experience itchiness and hives on the skin.
In severe cases, allergies can cause anaphylaxis—a potentially life-threatening condition.
What are antihistamines?
Antihistamines are exactly what their name describes: chemical substances that fight back the histamines secreted from the mast cells.
Antihistamines decrease the level of histamines in the body and thus diminish the swelling and inflammation.
Do antihistamines have side-effects?
Antihistamines have side-effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, sleepiness, drowsiness, and nausea. There is also concern that people develop increased tolerance and require stronger antihistamines doses to reach the required effect.
Nasal inflammation presents a particular problem, as it often requires nasal sprays. These commonly contain steroids. Many allergy sufferers balk at the idea of taking steroids for long stretches of time.
It’s no wonder, then, that an increasing number people are considering taking CBD for their allergies, given the wide availability of CBD on shelves and online.
There is no conclusive evidence suggesting that CBD is an effective antihistamine. However, some initial research is showing that CBD could be beneficial, although more clinical trials are required.
Does CBD oil help with allergies?
People use CBD in the hopes of fighting inflammation and mimicking the effects of the antihistamines on the body without the disturbing side-effects.
But is CBD good for allergies? And does CBD help with hay fever? Research sheds some light into the compound’s potential to fulfil these hopes in the future, starting with its effect on the endocannabinoid system.
The human endocannabinoid system
Since the 1990s, it has been found that the human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS regulates many bodily functions such as the immune system, inflammation, mood, appetite, sleep patterns, reproduction, and even temperature perception.
Our ECS works with endocannabinoids—compounds that resemble cannabinoids like CBD—and receptors that travel around the body. The main function of our ECS is to keep our body in balance (called homeostasis) or otherwise alert us when something is amiss and should be rectified.
Our ECS is responsible for keeping our immune system in balance. A balanced immune system blocks actual intruders, while an oversensitive immune system overreacts to a non-existent threat.
The better our ECS functions, therefore, the less likely it is for our immune system to become hypersensitive to allergens and trigger an allergic reaction.
So, how does CBD affect our endocannabinoid system?
Does CBD help with hay fever?
CBD is very similar to a human cannabinoid called 2-AG. It also seems to interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS.
It was initially assumed that CBD increases the levels of endocannabinoids in the human body. Further research, however, suggests that this is not the case. Instead, CBD boosts our ECS, making it work better and more efficiently.
The hypothesis, then, is that a smooth-working ECS will lead to a well-balanced immune system. This, in turn, will prevent an allergic reaction.
But does research support such a premise? Is CBD good for allergies, according to science?
Research on CBD and allergies
Researchers base their studies on the idea that CBD may possess anti-inflammatory properties; a suggestion supported by research.
A 2009 study concluded that “cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands play a crucial role in the regulation of the immune system.”
A 2005 research showed that “in the context of the pro-inflammatory function of mast cells, cannabinoids act as potential anti-inflammatory agents”. Mast cells are the one secreting histamines; stopping them should result in no excessive histamine being discharged in the body.
A 2018 study showed that CBD was beneficial as an anti-inflammatory when it came to allergic contact dermatitis.
And a 2013 study on guinea pigs concluded that CBD could “influence antigen-induced airway smooth muscle tone suggesting that this molecule may have beneficial effects in the treatment of obstructive airway disorders.” Such disorders are seen during allergic reactions.
Can you have a bad reaction to CBD?
People have been known to have an allergic reaction to water, developing hives on their skin after coming into contact with it. It’s no surprise, therefore, that some can be allergic to CBD.
While allergies to CBD are rare, CBD is derived from hemp, a cannabis plant. So, CBD contains pollen and other potential allergens.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) confirms that a person can develop an allergy or allergic sensitization after exposure to cannabis. This includes inhaling pollen in the air, as well as smoking, touching, or eating cannabis.
People having an allergic reaction to CBD oil may display symptoms similar to seasonal allergy symptoms. These can range from an itchy nose to breathing problems. Even handling CBD could cause contact dermatitis on rare occasions. Therefore, you should stop using CBD at the first sign of an allergy.
Is CBD good for allergies?
Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. They include skin allergies, food allergies, drugs allergies, etc. Hay fever alone affects between 10 and 30% of all American adults and up to 40% of children, as reported by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
While there is no scientific proof yet, ongoing research is showing promising results in answering the question “Is CBD good for allergies”.
Allergies are a long-term disorder that can cause extreme stress and discomfort. Taking medication for long periods of time is tiring and psychologically exhausting.
Some allergy sufferers experiment with CBD to relax and soothe their psychological stress and help with their mental anxiety. Alongside its possible anti-inflammatory effect, CBD could potentially alleviate these psychological symptoms of allergies.
However, the NHS has not approved CBD as a treatment for allergies and is not prescribing it for such conditions, as more research is necessary and dosage needs to be determined.
If you wish to try CBD, make sure to buy CBD from a trusted brand. Also, CBD can interact with other medications and worsen certain conditions, so always consult with your doctor first.