People can be allergic to all sorts of things. Some 30 years ago, one of the most common allergies was hay fever. Hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis. It is an immune reaction to airborne particles ranging from pollen and pet dander to mold and mildew. These days, we are more likely to talk about things like peanut allergies. And yes, cannabis allergies do exist. They are a real thing.
Given that cannabis is a plant, its pollen can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But that’s not all. The cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis can cause allergic reactions as well. The type of reaction a person has would depend on how exposure occurred.
The Basic Science of Allergies
So what is an allergy? It is an immune response to something the body believes is harmful but, in fact, is not. A hay fever patient allergic to ragweed would likely be exposed to quite a bit of it during the summer months in upstate New York. Ragweed pollen is completely harmless to human beings. Yet a hay fever patient has an allergic response because their body perceives the pollen as a harmful substance.
An allergic response to any type of pollen normally manifests itself in:
- watery, itchy eyes
- nasal congestion
- runny nose and sneezing
- allergic conjunctivitis
- difficulty breathing.
The same symptoms associated with hay fever allergies would apply to a marijuana allergy triggered by inhaling plant pollen. For most people, it would be nothing serious. Some minor discomfort would be about it.
Allergies from Ingestion
While allergic reaction as the result of pollen inhalation is the most common form of cannabis allergy, it is not the only form. Some people have allergic reactions after consuming cannabis, reactions similar to common food allergies. Those with a severe cannabis allergy would have to be incredibly careful about exposure.
Consuming cannabis could lead to the following symptoms in someone who is allergic:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling (eyes, nasal passages, and throat)
- Hives, rashes, and skin inflammation.
As far as we know right now, serious allergic reactions to cannabis are rare. Most reactions are similar to allergic rhinitis. If there is ever concern about something more serious though, a patient would be wise to consult their doctor.
More Probably Coming
We haven’t heard a lot about cannabis allergies because, until recently, cannabis was only used in the shadows. But with 38 states now boasting active medical cannabis programs, millions of people are using it. We would expect to see more reports of cannabis allergies moving forward.
Will cannabis allergies ever reach the status of allergic rhinitis, peanut allergies, allergic reactions to bee stings, etc.? Only time will tell. Here’s hoping that the worst of it will be an allergic rhinitis reaction. A minority of medical cannabis patients experiencing nasal congestion and watery eyes is a far better choice than the alternative.
You Can Try Different Products
If you suspect that medical cannabis is causing allergic reaction, speak to your Beehive Farmacy pharmacist about it. Your pharmacist might be able to recommend a different product you can use instead. Be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist about any other allergies you have. Why? Because your reaction might not be to cannabis or THC in particular. You might be reacting to something else in one of the products you use.
Unfortunately, cannabis allergies are real. For the most part though, medical cannabis patients in Utah are faring well. There haven’t been a ton of reports about allergic reactions, either mild or severe. Here’s hoping things stay that way for the foreseeable future.