April 24, 2020

Cannabis Allergy – Signs And Symptoms

Written by - Mallory Milne

minute read

0040e3c8ce289fb8fe705fc7d41c00241557342838 croppedJust like anything else in this world you can develop an allergy to, cannabis is no different. An estimated 50 million people just in the United States alone suffer from some form of allergy or another.

Allergies are your body’s over-reaction to any foreign substance that it deems harmful. When you come in contact with something you are allergic to, your body produces a substance called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This interacts with the allergen and causes an allergic reaction.

While a cannabis allergy isn’t something that is commonly talked about or well-known, there have been more and more reports on it in the past few years.

Allergies are something that you can either be born with, or develop over time. Interestingly enough, they are also something that can be eliminated in some cases through exposure therapy.

With the rise in popularity of CBD oil, and legalization of marijuana in more countries around the globe, make sure you are aware of the possibility of an allergic reaction happening, what it may look like, and how to treat it.

Common Allergies d1a97066141790639db08c078b5e9544 cropped

There are many, many things that one might be allergic to. Some of the ones that are seen most often include:

  • Medicine – antibiotics, aspirin, muscle relaxers, NSAID’s, chemotherapy drugs
  • Food – peanuts, strawberries, eggs, milk, shellfish, wheat
  • Insects – bees, wasps, mosquitoes, dust mites
  • Latex
  • Mold
  • Animals – pet dander, urine, saliva
  • Pollen/Environmental – flowers, trees, plants, grass, dust, sunlight

Allergies are considered a chronic disease, which is something that occurs frequently or lasts a long time.

When I was a child I was allergic to Tylenol, or rather the acetaminophen that was in it. The reactions that I would get from it included extremely itchy eyes, nose, throat, and ears, and my throat would swell up slightly.

While it was uncomfortable for me, it wasn’t life threatening, and this was one allergy that I was able to overcome through exposure during my childhood and teens. Nowadays when I take Tylenol, the only effect that I sometimes get is a very slightly itchy throat. This is one(very unscientific) example of an allergy being reduced through exposure therapy.

I also developed an allergy to the sun when I was 19, despite having grown up by the beach and spending my entire life outside in the sun. This is something that I’m still dealing with to this day, and I’m 34 now. Definitely puts a bit of a damper on some of the outdoor activities that I enjoy during the warm months, like fishing and softball. Even with massive amounts of sunscreen and protective clothing I will still break out into itchy hives that at some points take weeks to clear up.

Allergies can be extremely frustrating to deal with, especially when it is something that interferes with your day to day life. Antihistamines can be taken in some cases to alleviate allergy symptoms, but can cause some unwanted side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness. There are some non-drowsy formulas available, and studies have shown them to be just as effective as the older, more sedating formulas.

Common Allergy Symptoms1f9a9a07f42347cb6d04ad2ea96d1bda cropped

Allergic reactions tend to take form in the respiratory system, as well as producing multiple skin issues. These effects can range from mild to severe, and can be life threatening in some cases. Some of the effects that you may see or feel when experiencing an allergic reaction are:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes, itchy nose, mouth/throat, ears
  • Shortness of breath or tight chest, closing or swelling of throat
  • Swelling, localized or all over
  • Hives or other skin rash
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

There are ways to test if you are possibly allergic to something. These are generally performed in office by a licensed doctor or medical professional. There are skin tests, where a small amount of the possible allergen is placed on the skin and then poked or scratched into it to determine whether or not there is a reaction, or blood testing.

A severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis, and can be life threatening. Symptoms of this include swelling of the throat or mouth, difficulty breathing, blue skin or lips, or losing consciousness. Reactions of this type need immediate medical attention.

What A Cannabis Allergy Can Look Like

Common allergy skin test

An allergy of this sort can manifest in any of the typical symptoms listed above. Very few cases dealing with cannabis and anaphylaxis have been reported, but there have been some, mainly occurring when ingesting hemp seeds.

If you suspect that you may be allergic to cannabis, similar skin testing would be performed by an allergist, by preparing a mixture of the leaves, buds, flowers etc. and then poking a small amount into the skin.

A very small study was published that may establish a possible link between cannabis and other allergies. It suggests that one may be more likely to develop a cannabis allergy if they are allergic to animal dander, different types of molds, some plants, or dust mites.

More research is needed in this area in order to confirm this possible link.

What Causes A Reaction To Cannabis?28af248ee9d83025004c28674c1e1d801557344120 cropped

As studies have shown, there are a few different causes for an allergic reaction to cannabis.

The pollen that cannabis produces has been shown in some cases to cause an allergic reaction, and people with a sensitivity to this are also more likely to have a reaction from the pollen of other plants and flowers.

Another common cause for an allergic reaction to cannabis is mold. When stored for longer periods of time, or in less than ideal or damp conditions, cannabis can definitely grow mold on it. Some people who experience a reaction may not be reacting to the cannabis itself, but rather the mold that comes along with it.

The proteins in cannabis are very much alike those in some other foods, such as peaches, tomatoes, bananas, almonds, eggplant, grapefruit, and more. People who are already allergic to these food items may also experience an allergic reaction when consuming cannabis.

You can also develop a cannabis allergy by ingesting too much cannabis over a long period of time. Frequent prolonged use of cannabis can lead to Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome(CHS). This is a condition where one experiences repeated vomiting, sometimes very severe. This can happen to anyone regardless of how often or not they use it.

What CBD Products Could Cause A Reaction?84faf5fe99d22b5fbf5db1634b272eef cropped

CBD is mainly produced from hemp, which is low in THC, but high in CBD. The opposite is true for marijuana, which is high in THC, but low in CBD. They both come from the same family of plants, cannabis, and either plant has the possibility of causing an allergic reaction.

CBD is widely available in a number of different forms, such as oils, edibles, vape products, and topicals. Any one of these, whether consumed orally or applied topically, can cause a reaction.

When starting on CBD for the first time, make sure you begin at a very low dose, and watch carefully for any signs that your body may be reacting negatively.

Choosing a product that goes through extensive testing for purity, and is 100% organic and grown with no harmful pesticides or toxins will always be your best choice, especially when it comes to anyone who is sensitive to mold.

Always choose a company that specifically tests for these toxins and other unwanted possible contaminants. There are plenty of companies out there that only test for cannabinoid content, and nothing more, and these are definitely ones you want to avoid.

CBD Handle



About the author 

Mallory Milne

Mallory is a mom of two, as well as the main content writer and owner of CBD Handle. She has been a consumer advocate and CBD user since 2018, and strives to relay accurate, easy to understand information and to educate others on the health benefits of CBD.


You may also like

  • I had a sensitivity issue with the full spectrum, made my eczema flare on my neck and face. Iím not sure if it was the THC that I am sensitive to or hemp seed. Do you know what people are usually reacting to from the CBD who have an allergy issue, the THC or hemp seed itself? Planning on trying the broad spectrum but if Iím still sensitive I will try the isolate.

  • Just started high quality CBD oil for pain and anxiety. Took .5ml sublingually last night – almost immediately, I had the feeling that there was a lump in my throat, and an effort to swallow. This morning, dropped dose to .25ml but have the same sensation – still present after several hours. No other allergy symptoms. Anyone else?

    • Yes, I just started taking CBD and have been experiencing tightness and lump in my throat sensation after taking it. It is upsetting and I donít know if it is an allergy or what. Iím going to stop taking it.

  • I have an allergy to cannabis, developed in my teen years which causes seizures. At the time, it was fairly unbelievable and it took a long time to accept. I have since developed other allergies including anaphylaxis, so in retrospect it was just the beginning of my discovery of bodily reactions.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}