does cbd help with allergies? (everything you need to know)
could cbd really be that perfect solution for your allergies? after spending the majority of my childhood experiencing miserable allergies, i can luckily say they only flare up a handful of times a year now. but those times still are awful, and when allergies attack, i always look for a natural remedy. is it possible cbd might be that perfect cure?
no clinical evidence exists that cbd is a viable remedy for allergies, though it may still be effective in relieving some allergy-related symptoms. cbd may also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that could help allergies, however there is no clinical proof of that being true in humans yet.
allergies are the result of an immune response, and our immune systems are very closely related to our endocannabinoid systems (ecs) which cbd works upon. because of this, there’s still a lot to unpack.
cbd and allergies
allergies affect between 10-30% of the worldwide population according to the american academy of allergy, asthma, and immunology. the asthma and allergy foundation of america states that more than 50 million americans experience allergies each year, and that they are the sixth-leading cause of illness in the united states. crazy numbers.
but what are allergies exactly ? we know them by their symptoms, but what causes the sneezing, headaches, swelling, watery eyes, congestion, and runny nose? (especially those last two in conjunction – who enjoys a plugged nose that keeps dripping!?)
allergy symptoms happen as a byproduct of your immune system reacting to a foreign substance of any sort. when any foreign substance enters the body, allergy-inducing or not, the immune system produces antibodies as a means of protecting us. it can readily recognize many safe substances such as food, allowing it to immediately halt production of more antibodies towards attacking that substance.
the immune system can also recognize harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses, and work to fight and eradicate them. however, sometimes it mistakes other relatively harmless substances such as pollen, dust, or dander as much more threatening invaders. when this happens, the immune system continues to produce antibodies, exciting your responses to get rid of the perceived threat. when this threat is actually nonexistent, allergies are often the result.
both the immune and endocannabinoid systems are believed to be over 500 million years old, with the first record of the immune system arising in some ancient jawed fish species. our immune systems function to protect us from any potential harm in our environments; while the primary function of our ecs is to maintain homeostasis within our bodies, and the concurrent evolution of both systems has likely resulted in a lot of interconnectedness between their roles in keeping us healthy.
one major sign to the significance of both the immune system and ecs are their presence all throughout the body. our ecs has two types of receptors that are found everywhere inside our bodies by way of our brain and nervous system, and these receptors exist to detect imbalances of any kind. this means that if our immune system is flaring up for any given reason, our ecs should have some type of response to it.
like the ecs, our immune system is also present all over. some primary organs within the immune system are the spleen, lymph glands, and tonsils. it also exists in bone marrow, which is responsible for the formation of our blood cells and, of course, exists in our bones. this means we have the ability for immune responses to occur anywhere a foreign substance might make its way inside the body.
of all organs in our immune system, the spleen is the largest. it also happens to be where the largest concentration of cb2 receptors are. this connection certainly suggests that the immune system and ecs are likely involved with one another’s functions, though all links between the two are still purely anecdotal as there simply has not been enough research done on the subject yet to understand the full picture.
one study, however, was able to create conditions inside a laboratory wherein the administration of endocannabinoids led to immunosuppression and suggested that manipulation of endocannabinoids in a body may be a potential means of treating inflammatory disorders (such as allergies and asthma). it also paid mention to evidence that endocannabinoids function as local modulators of immune and inflammatory reactions, but made sure to confirm within the hypothesis that “the cross-talk between the immune system and endocannabionids is yet to be fully defined.”
another way in which our ecs is related to immune responses is through the production of histamines, which are the byproduct of your immune response to rid your body of something bothersome that it has come into contact with. histamines are responsible for allergy-related symptoms such as sneezing, itching, or tearing up, and can be impacted by environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, and stress.
cigarette smoke also increases histamine production, and other conditions such as asthma, copd, eczema, and rhinitis may exacerbate allergy symptoms as well. these reactions could lead to even worse flare ups of the original condition, cause your throat to swell, etc. that would make it harder to breathe and potentially even be life threatening.
for some reason, your immune system also perceives pollen, dust, and pet dander to be worthy of attacking as well, despite their relatively nonexistent threat to our lives. everybody has a different tolerance threshold for these discerned “invaders,” and reactions can often be worse in the spring when plant life begins to bloom. it’s also the time when people begin turning on their ac units for the first time since the prior year, kicking up and circulating dust that’s been settling all winter long. of course, these are called seasonal allergies (though late-summer winds in dry places can also cause such reactions).
histamines are created within the body by mast cells, which are immune cells found within the connective tissue all throughout our bodies. these cells contain both cb1 and cb2 receptors that inhibit their release of histamines when activated. despite this, cbd itself does not bind to your cannabinoid receptors. instead, it facilitates the production of your body’s own (endo)cannabnoids, 2-ag and anandamide to bind to receptors throughout your nervous system in order to activate homeostatic responses such as the restriction of histamine creation.
the other primary compound found in the cannabis plant is thc, which is the mind-altering component found in “marijuana” (a bs legal term for cannabis that has more than 0.3% thc by dry weight) that gives its users feelings of euphoria or being “high” that are not present when cbd is consumed. unlike cbd, thc readily binds to both cb1 and cb2 receptors, explaining its potential to be effective in hindering immune responses that contain mast cell release.
to sum it up, histamines are produced by your immune system to help rid your body of an invader (in this case, an allergen). they are responsible for producing the symptoms you associate with allergies, meaning there is a direct correlation between histamine levels and allergic symptoms. if allergic symptoms are present, finding a way to lower the body’s histamine levels will also reduce the severity of symptoms experienced by allergies. in fact, this is exactly how over-the-counter medications such as benadryl work; they are categorized as a type of drug called antihistamines.
however, antihistamines like benadryl can also bring with it side effects such as drowsiness, constipation, confusion, and blurred vision. its ability to dry up your sinuses may also bring about a dry mouth, nose, and throat. worst of all, benadryl was recently found to be within a classification of drugs that were linked to increased risk of dementia. all jokes aside, do you really want to risk dementia to clear your sinuses or relieve you of a headache, especially if you could do so without that prominent of a risk?
other allergy medications such as claritin, zyrtec, or allegra also have long lists of potential side effects, though many of them are mild and similar to the less-threatening effects that benadryl displays. general or local areas of pain, gastrointestinal issues and dizziness also may occur. lastly, all of these medications work by addressing systemic reactions in order to alleviate their symptoms: it is important to remember that a medication’s ability to relieve allergy symptoms does not equate to it being a cure!
while cbd has not been proven to cure allergies either, it too may be effective at reducing allergy-related symptoms due its ability to elicit responses that lower histamine levels within the immune system. furthermore, the overall homeostatic role of the ecs also may play a role. it’s also possible cbd could cause some mild side effects in a percentage of its users, though it is 100% nontoxic and remarkably safe to consume, even in hero-sized doses.
cbd for allergy relief
if you are going to look into taking cbd for allergy relief, you should do so with the understanding of how it will work on your body. this will help you get the most out of it, allowing your body to capitalize on even more benefits than just potential allergy relief.
- take cbd every day to unlock its maximum potential. cbd stimulates the endocannabinoid system, which signals the body to produce more of its own endocannabinoids to focus on whatever homeostatic processes are necessary. regular daily consumption of cbd can help regulate your ecs to bring about more stable processes throughout your body, including allergies and other immune responses
- make sure to buy organic, third-party lab tested cbd products. broad spectrum and full spectrum blends will always be more effective than cbd isolate.
- for best effects, use cbd tinctures/drops sublingually (under your tongue). under your tongue exists one giant mucous membrane that can absorb cbd directly into your bloodstream. this is much quicker than any orally ingested method, be it tinctures, capsules, or edibles such as gummies or chocolates.
a recent study produced the first laboratory-created demonstration of anti-inflammatory properties within cbd. they did this via in-vitro cell stimulation, meaning it was enacted in conditions outside of the human body, doing so on a model of allergic contact dermatitis (acd), a skin condition that occurs as an allergic reaction and usually leaves a red rash. it is believed that cbd may regulate the production of cytokines, signaling proteins the immune system uses to begin causing inflammation.
while these findings show promise for cbd’s potential as an anti-inflammatory agent, any individual claims of its effectiveness have still yet to be backed by science. cbd oil may also provide secondary relief to other conditions that arise from allergy-related symptoms. for example, cbd can also display pain-relieving properties that could be effective if you experience joint pain or other chronic pain when your allergies flare up.
the effects of cbd on the ecs could also help open passageways, relieve nasal pressure and congestion, or simply induce calmness, all of which may also help lessen the symptoms related to an allergy attack. again, none of these are cures; however, your body’s supply of endocannabinoids can become exhausted in situations of stress, sickness, pain, etc., and cbd can help stimulate the processes that replenish your endocannabinoid levels to help your body work towards homeostasis.
when used topically, cbd may provide potential relief from skin-related immune responses such as eczema and rashes. this works even better when combined with other nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, colloidal oatmeal, and jojoba oil that are great for all skin types. even if cbd does not enter your bloodstream when used in topical fashion, it can still provide calming relief to the local area where it‘s applied. lastly, be sure to make sure any topicals you buy are organic and lab tested just the same as other cbd products. your skin is your biggest organ: make sure you treat it right.
lastly, research has also been conducted on alpha-pinene, a terpene found inside cannabis that ultimately suggested it as “a promising anti-allergic agent” after proving to be effective on mice with allergic rhinitis. pinene is the most common terpene found in nature, existing in other organic species such as the needles of pine trees, rosemary, and basil, and is known to exhibit calming, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving effects that could also contribute towards alleviating allergy-related symptoms.
however, some terpenes found within cannabis could also be allergens. nearly 20% of a studied population showed a skin reaction when exposed to linalool, another prominent terpene in cannabis. in that same study, 8% of people experienced a contact allergy to the terpene limonene, and it turns out cannabis as a whole may also act as an allergen, especially when someone is exposed to the plant in large quantities for a prolonged period of time.
this may explain why some people who have trimmed cannabis or been around a large quantity of it being grown find it harder to breathe as exposure increases. furthermore, cannabis may also have cross-allergies towards other plant foods, tobacco, natural latex, and plant-derived alcoholic beverages. coming into skin contact with cannabis or touching the plant may also cause a skin reaction, and all of the aforementioned possibilities have the potential to worsen with increased and prolonged exposure.
with that being said, you hopefully now have a clearer picture of the potential role that cannabis plays with regards to allergies, from the ecs and immune system being interconnected, all the way to the different ways in which symptoms may be alleviated or worsened depending on circumstances. please drop us a line if you have any other questions or would like to share any success stories related to cannabis and your life, whether it is related to allergies or otherwise <3.