The body’s endocannabinoid system - the internal system on which cannabis acts and produces its many effects - plays roles in many crucial physiological functions, including immune response. As such, some may wonder whether cannabis or CBD could help with allergies, as they are often exaggerated autoimmune responses to foreign substances.
CBD can help reduce inflammation and the production of cytokines, the compounds that cause allergic responses. While little research has examined using cannabis to treat allergies, people with seasonal or acute allergies may consider trying CBD to relieve their symptoms.
Read on to learn what the limited research says on CBD and allergies and what to know when considering CBD as a treatment option.
- CBD works on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates the immune response to allergens.
- CBD is an anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory chemical, which may be useful in soothing contact dermatitis and other inflammation symptoms of allergies.
- We need more research on whether CBD is a better treatment option than over-the-counter antihistamines.
What is CBD?
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant, one of over 100 compounds known as cannabinoids. Unlike the more popular THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and doesn’t produce the same feeling of being “high.” However, a common misconception is that CBD is non-psychoactive – it still can act on the brain and help lift moods and dull the feeling of pain.
CBD works as an “agonist” in the body, meaning it blocks certain neurotransmitters from working on your endocannabinoid system but not directly activating the receptors. This means that CBD helps reduce the intoxication of THC while lengthening the duration of the high. THC and CBD in combination, plus other cannabinoids and terpenes, also work to produce results greater than the sum of their parts in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.
Researchers have found that CBD affects many parts of the endocannabinoid system, serving as a potent anti-inflammatory, pain treatment, mood elevator, and more. Low to moderate doses produce anti-anxiety effects, while higher doses can be more relaxing, useful in controlling seizures and staving off insomnia. Its multi-faceted impact on the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in immune response, is why some are curious about CBD’s ability to address allergy symptoms.
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is considered federally legal as long as it’s sourced from legal hemp plants, where both the source material and final product contain no more than 0.3% THC per dry weight. Since 2018, manufacturers have cropped up nationwide, creating CBD-based products such as vapes, gummies, capsules, edibles, and topicals.
What are Allergies?
Allergies, also known as hay fever, are a seasonal syndrome that occurs in response to allergens that become more abundant during certain times of the year. Allergies occur when the body’s immune system encounters an external allergen, such as pollen or winter dust from an untouched heater and activates antibodies and histamines to fight them.
Causes and Symptoms
It’s typically an overactive immune system that causes allergies, where the body has an outsized response to a relatively common trigger. Histamines are the primary chemical produced by the body’s immune system to eliminate allergies via tactics like runny noses and sneezing.
Seasonal allergies can annoy many people, but some individuals with severe allergic reactions can experience more painful symptoms, such as shortness of breath and difficulty breathing or swallowing. Seasonal allergies can also cause asthma attacks and even increase the risk of respiratory failure.
People commonly take antihistamines such as Benadryl or other non-drowsy over-the-counter drugs to manage allergy symptoms. But these medicines can sometimes lose effectiveness over time.
Can CBD Help with Allergies?
Little research has examined whether CBD could potentially strengthen immune response and assist in fighting off allergens. We know that allergies are associated with immune function, which the endocannabinoid system regulates. CBD is a known anti-inflammatory, which can help combat certain immunity-based responses such as skin rashes or other types of inflammation.
A rodent study from 2019 explored CBD’s impact on allergic asthma and found that those with CBD treatments had reduced symptoms, including less inflamed air pathways. CBD products with this terpene may have the added double benefit of reducing inflammatory responses and preventing seasonal allergic symptoms in the first place. To take advantage of this, you’ll want to seek out full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products and ensure they contain alpha-pinene.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD also have some immunosuppressive properties and have been found to promote cell death and inhibit the production of T cells, which are involved in allergic responses. Most average people don’t want to completely suppress T cell activity, as they’re important in fighting diseases. Still, those with an overactive immune system may benefit from fewer allergy symptoms overall.
Despite this promising research, it’s important to recognize that CBD isn’t a panacea, and scientists have yet to conduct human trials exploring its efficacy. There’s still much we don’t know about the cannabinoid, and no evidence has suggested that CBD is more effective than a regular antihistamine drug in fighting allergies.
The Bottom Line
Millions of people worldwide suffer from seasonal allergies, but as the cannabis market in the U.S. grows, many have anecdotally found relief by using CBD to treat their symptoms. CBD oil is relatively safe, and if you’re curious about exploring CBD products as an allergy treatment, it’s certainly worth exploring due to its anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory properties.
Ready to find a CBD option for you? Explore EVN’s selection of CBD gummies, rosin, and more.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog and by this website is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be professional medical advice, a medical diagnosis, or medical treatment. Please consult your health practitioner with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.