By / June 3, 2021

All about cannabis allergies (and how to avoid them)

With the development of the cannabis market, more and more consumers are daring to talk about its benefits, but also sometimes about their problems after the consumption of hemp or the use of a derivative. Particularly concerning are the appearance of allergic symptoms. Today we dive into the topic of allergy risks associated with the consumption of cannabis and THC: do they exist, what are they, and how to manage them?

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Can you be allergic to cannabis?

The short answer: yes, cannabis contains allergens. The first description of allergic symptoms associated with cannabis THC use dates all the way back to 1971. Due to the illicit nature of the substance in most countries, there are relatively few studies on the subject, however. It also appears that very few users develop allergic reactions to THC or other components of cannabis. Between the lack of visibility and the low allergy risk identified to date, it is therefore difficult to comment clearly and accurately on the extend of the risk of cannabis THC allergies.

However, it seems safe to say that yes, it is possible to be allergic to cannabis. However, the level of risk, and type of symptoms, does not warrant being overly concerned. Researchers have also identified that hemp allergens are found in the smoke, the plant and the pollen.

Cannabis THC allergy: different symptoms depending on the method of consumption

The way cannabis is consumed, or at any rate the way we come into contact with cannabis or any of its derivatives, can influence the possible symptoms caused.

  • Inhalation of allergens (smoking a cannabis joint or inhaling pollen, for example): can cause respiratory problems and in particular inflammation of the nasal mucosa, conjunctivitis, asthma, or swelling of the eyelids.
  • Local application (such as a cream): may lead to skin reactions and other symptoms, e.g. edema or urticaria.
  • Ingestion (when cooked into or added to foods): may cause some rare violent reactions in allergy-prone consumers, including anaphylactic shock. This mainly concerns the ingestion of cannabis seeds or marijuana tea.

However, be careful, the fact that your body reacts unexpectedly to the use of a cannabis product does not mean that you are allergic to hemp itself. Always remember to look closely at the list of ingredients: many other allergens can hide there. An example? If your skin turns red or you get a rash after applying a CBD Sun Product or CBD Oil for acne relief, it may be the oil and not the cannabis that is the culprit. In fact, certain oils are said to be “comedogenic” and have the annoying tendency to clog skin pores.

Hemp and other cross-allergies

The chemical structure of hemp allergens is similar to that of allergens in other fruits and vegetables. This chemical proximity leads to a risk of cross-allergies (aka cross reactions) with certain fruits and vegetables. More precisely, the phenomenon was called “cannabis-fruit-vegetable syndrome.”

What scientists have been able to highlight is the common presence in many fruits and vegetables as well as in cannabis of lipid transfer proteins (or LTPs, for Lipid Transfer Proteins). Simply put, these proteins are responsible for transporting fatty acids through the body. The LTP present in cannabis is called Can s 3, given other LTPs may have very similar structures, there is the potential risk for cross-allergy reactions.

This is particularly the case of the combined use of cannabis with other plants such as cherry, apple, tomato, grapefruit, hazelnut, chestnut, and even latex!

The role of cofactors in hemp allergies

Allergists also warn us against the so-called cofactors: behaviors or environmental contexts that can exacerbate the severity of an allergic reaction. Trivially, if an individual reacts very weakly to the allergenic nature of cannabis, it is possible that certain elements together may amplify this reaction. Some cofactors have already been identified such as:

  • Alcohol consumption,
  • sports activity before taking cannabis,
  • The premenstrual period,
  • The taking of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs (ibubrofen, Nurofen, Arthrocine for example).

Is cannabis allergy a THC allergy? Maybe, precautions should be taken!

Again, the lack of sources and thorough research calls for caution. Some indicate a predisposition of sativas to be more irritating than indicas. Another sign that the THC levels would contribute to the intensity of allergic reactions. So, the more THC the hemp variety contains, the higher the allergic risk, suggesting that THC alone could be an allergen.

Therefore, these first conclusions, like many others, encourage us to resort to products that are less loaded with THC, which also has the clear advantage of not causing psychotropic effects and also reducing the risk of addiction to the substance. A good point for legal cannabis with CBD, whose THC level is strictly controlled and must be below 0.2% to be able to market the product. Extracts are generally guaranteed THC-free. This is particularly the case for our CBD oils, our crystals, and our e-liquid in CBD.

It is advisable in all cases to take precautions and therefore to be attentive to possible symptoms. If you notice an unusual reaction after taking cannabis, legal or not, seek the advice of a health professional without waiting any longer. It also appears that many allergic reactions to cannabis are not caused by the plant itself, but by the plant itself. presence of mold on flowers, in particular caused by poor storage. Always make sure to use quality products and keep your CBD well maintained to avoid most of the risks of cannabis allergy!


(Featured image by  Louis Hansel via Unsplash)

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