Can you have an allergic reaction to CBD oil?
Whether it’s sniffling, watery eyes, itching, or asthma, many of us are all too familiar with symptoms of allergies.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are the No. 6 cause of chronic illness in the United States. To narrow that down,there were 19.9 million adults diagnosed with hay fever in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is estimated that 32 million Americans live with food allergies; more than 170 foods may lead to allergic reaction.
Considering the increasing awareness and use of cannabidiol (CBD) and the existing potential for pollen and food allergies, allergy sufferers may wonder whether they are at risk for an allergic reaction to CBD oil or whether CBD can provide treatment or relief for other types of allergic reactions.
Though there’s not much in the way of allergy research specifically for CBD oil at this point, the cannabis plant itself has been linked to allergic reactions.
“Marijuana is a plant and produces pollen and one can become allergic to the pollen and the plant, especially if one has pre-existing allergic tendencies,” said Dr. William S. Silvers, clinical professor of medicine in allergy and immunology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
That being said, only male marijuana plants produce pollen, and are exceedingly rare in cannabis and hemp production because they produce less oil and CBD than female plants. Therefore, a consumer’s exposure to pollen would be extremely rare.
CBD oil overview
CBD is the second-most-prominent cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant, after the intoxicating cannabinoid THC. CBD oil, extracted from marijuana or industrial hemp, has gained popularity for its potential benefits for a number of conditions, including inflammation, arthritic pain, depression, seizures, and anxiety.
Though research is still limited in regards to many supposed benefits, in 2018 the FDA approved Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution, to treat seizures associated with two severe types of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
SKIN PROBLEMS THAT YOU CAN SOLVE WITH CBD (AND SELECT HERBS)
CBD oil is a natural active ingredient derived from the Cannabis sativa industrial cannabis species. CBD cannabinoid has so many positive effects on the human body, we often joke that every person has at least one ailment CBD oil could help with. CBD is used to relieve insomnia and chronic pain, and to help relieve autoimmune diseases, anxiety and depression. It is also popular as a natural remedy against insomnia and as an additional boost for the immune system. Lately, the use of CBD oil for the skin has also been gaining a lot of attention. Because the skin has its own endocannabinoid system to which the CBD cannabinoid binds, it is effective in a wide range of skin problems. What skin problems does CBD work on best?
CBD and psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease where skin cells grow and divide at an accelerated rate. Eczema start appearing on the skin as a result of this division and they are usually red with a silver outline but can also be pink or brown in colour. Psoriasis is a disease that doesn’t have a cure yet, but various therapies do exist to mitigate its symptoms. A lot can be done to alleviate the symptoms by adjusting your lifestyle, maintaining a balanced diet and with moderate exposure to the sun. CBD cannabinoid is also becoming an increasingly popular natural remedy for psoriasis outbreaks and several studies have shown the effect it has on decelerating skin cell division. CBD cannabinoid also has anti-inflammatory properties which additionally soothe psoriasis conditions.
Acne and skin impurities – CBD’s double effect
Acne and skin impurities are not exclusive to teenagers, they often occur in adulthood as well. Most commonly the causes of adult acne are hormonal imbalances, stress, an unhealthy diet and improper skin care. Their formation is caused by an increased secretion of sebum (tallow) and the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. Sebum normally plays an important role in skin protection, but when the skin produces too much of it, it can also cause unwanted acne. Our fight against acne can take place on multiple levels – with a healthy diet, regular cleansing of dead skin cells, avoiding stress and regular physical activity. Of course, proper skin care that balances the skin and brings it to a healthy and radiant state is crucial. And CBD cannabinoid is undoubtedly an active ingredient which, when it comes to acne skin care, is very promising. Why is CBD a great ally in the fight against acne?
1. CBD reduces the formation of sebum in sebaceous tissues
Clinical studies have shown that the CBD molecule reduces the formation of sebum in the sebaceous glands, which is highly desired in acne-prone skin care, as the formation of sebum is the most common culprit of acne.
2. CBD has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
CBD carries out complex anti-inflammatory and antibacterial actions demonstrated also in many other experimental studies on diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Red acne (not blackheads) are the result of inflammatory skin changes that CBD cannabinoid can successfully calm down.
CBD cannabinoid and atopic dermatitis
Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease that most commonly occurs in children. About 10% of children under the age of 6 are affected. Dermatitis is more common in cold months and is characterized by red, itchy rashes. If you visit your doctor with a case of dermatitis, they will almost always prescribe treatment with corticosteroid creams. Such creams are effective in relieving the symptoms, but unfortunately, they also have a lot of negative side effects on the skin and body. Often, when the treatment with corticosteroids is completed, the original problem returns.
CBD cannabinoid has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and body. Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory disease, so CBD has a positive effect on it.
CBD is all the more effective because our skin has its own endocannabinoid system onto which CBD can bind itself directly when it’s in the form of an ointment. This way it has a quick and targeted effect on the problem, calming the skin and restoring its balance. CBD also soothes itchiness and redness, two of the more prominent problems of atopic dermatitis.
Does CBD Make You Itch?
One of the reasons CBD has become so popular is that it generally causes very few adverse effects.
A 2017 review for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research investigated the safety and side effects of CBD. It concluded that CBD has a favorable side effect profile in comparison to many pharmaceuticals that treat the same conditions.
That said, side effects did occur, with the most common being tiredness, diarrhea, and appetite/weight changes. The report makes no mention of itching as a potential CBD oil side effect.
However, over in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had different findings. The MHRA runs something known as the Yellow Card Scheme. The scheme provides consumers with an opportunity to report adverse reactions after using a specific medicine or supplement.
The 2019 report suggests that there were at least two cases of rashes and itching after using CBD oil. One patient took CBD orally and experienced urticaria, a severe skin reaction involving red welts, swelling, and intense itching. Another used CBD both orally and topically, and also experienced itching.
It seems that the most likely explanation for these adverse effects is an allergic reaction to CBD oil. So, how common is this problem, and are there any other symptoms?
Itching and Other CBD Oil Allergic Reaction Symptoms
There is little information available on CBD oil allergies. However, there is some research into cannabis allergies in general. The Annals of Asthma, Allergies, and Immunology conducted a study in 2013. It concluded that there had been cases of hypersensitivity and even anaphylaxis after using marijuana.
Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is an extreme allergic reaction. It results in swelling of the airways, inability to breathe, and can potentially be fatal. Other cannabis allergy symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Rhinitis (nasal inflammation)
- Nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Watery eyes
The research also suggests that high doses of cannabis could lead to asthma and bronchitis.
Furthermore, it states that workers in hemp processing facilities may experience higher rates of respiratory problems. The authors point out that most cannabis allergies occur due to smoking and direct handling. However, consuming edibles could also potentially cause a reaction.
The AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) says that cannabis allergy can develop due to “inhaling, smoking, touching, and eating marijuana.” It states that touching the plant could cause rashes, hives, and swelling in sensitive individuals.
Since CBD comes from cannabis plants, it is reasonable to assume that those with cannabis allergies could also be sensitive to CBD. However, more research is necessary to confirm how many people are allergic to CBD oil, and to what extent.
Can CBD Oil Cause a Skin Rash?
As we have already mentioned, there have been isolated reports of CBD causing a skin rash. This side effect may be more common with a particular form of CBD known as Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is the only form of CBD with full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, scientists have tested it rigorously for both potential benefits and side effects. The drug’s prescribing information lists rashes as one of the most common side effects of Epidiolex.
It also states that the drug could cause liver problems. One of the symptoms of this is itching. Other signs of liver issues include:
- Reduced appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Dark urine
- Pain in the upper-right abdominal area
Anyone experiencing these side effects after taking Epidiolex or CBD oil should seek medical advice immediately.
Can CBD Oil Cause Itchy Eyes?
Itchy eyes are a common allergy symptom. Pollen allergies often cause the eyes to become red, watery, and itchy. Therefore, someone coming into contact with cannabis or hemp pollen could experience these effects.
Those who use marijuana regularly may be familiar with the tell-tale side effect of red or bloodshot eyes. However, this is not due to CBD but the intoxicating compound in cannabis, THC.
Red eyes are the result of THC causing the blood vessels to relax and widen. Many believe that, for the same reason, marijuana could be a useful glaucoma treatment.
We couldn’t find any reliable reports of CBD oil causing itchy eyes, but that does not mean it is impossible. Let us know in the comments at the end of the article if you have experienced this.