Can You Be Allergic to Marijuana?

a man wiping his nose

Table of contents

  1. What Causes Marijuana Allergies?
  2. Symptoms 
  3. Potential Health Risks
  4. How Marijuana Allergies are Diagnosed
  5. Treatment
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

It is possible to be allergic to cannabis. The most common allergic reaction to the marijuana plant comes from the flower’s pollen, like hay fever. The pollen of plants causes the immune system to attack the foreign material, causing an extreme immune system reaction. 

Also similar to hayfever, the most common signs of an allergic reaction to cannabis are:

  • Itchy, red, and/or watery eyes
  • A dry cough
  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • A scratchy or sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea 

Learn more about what causes marijuana allergies, recognize the symptoms, and treat an allergic reaction to cannabis. 

What Causes Marijuana Allergies?

Marijuana is a plant that contains up to 600 different compounds. A person can be allergic to cannabis, and it is usually due to one of the many compounds in the cannabis plant – but not necessarily a cannabinoid, terpene, or flavonoid

People are often exposed to cannabis allergens in the following ways:

  • Inhaling cannabis pollen in the air.
  • Smoking marijuana or breathing in second-hand cannabis smoke.
  • Touching marijuana (contact dermatitis).
  • Eating marijuana.

Allergy; flowers; field.Image by Cenczi from Pixabay.

Symptoms 

Some people may get an allergic reaction from handling the plant. The ​​skin reaction is called “contact dermatitis,” and the symptoms can include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red, inflamed, and/or puffy skin
  • Dry skin
  • Hives
  • Blisters

A severe allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock can occur in rare and extreme cases. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include:

  • Difficulty breathing, which can be made worse by a swollen tongue or throat
  • Shallow blood pressure
  • A weak, rapid pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Itchy, flushed, or pale skin

In such instances, emergency medical care is required.

Potential Health Risks

In most instances, cannabis allergies are not deadly, and thankfully most people realize from their symptoms that they’re allergic before they ingest it.

How Marijuana Allergies are Diagnosed

There is currently no standard way to test for a marijuana allergy. But you may visit an allergist’s office and ask for a skin test to be performed. The skin test results may confirm that you have a cannabis allergy or may lead to the allergist performing further tests if the results are negative. 

You can also perform a skin test at home instead of visiting an allergist if you have mild symptoms. The most straightforward and safest way to check if you have an allergy to the cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids themselves is to prick your skin and handle cannabis extract with little plant material (e.g., wax, honey, or a little Rick Simpson Oil). This is known as the “skin prick test.” 

If you get any signs of contact dermatitis, you may be allergic to cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids rather than the cannabis plant. You can also see if you get contact dermatitis after handling raw flower or resin, which could help determine what part of the cannabis plant you’re allergic to.

Many people with allergic reactions to cannabis can recognize their symptoms in other ways. One way to see if you have a cannabis allergy is if you have an allergy to any of the following fruits, vegetables, or nuts, as they share some similar protein properties (cross-reactivity):

  • Almonds
  • Chestnuts
  • Eggplants (aubergine)
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Grapefruit

If your symptoms become severe, you should seek medical care immediately.

Food; fruit; vegetables; plants; diet; foodstuffs.
Source

Treatment

While there is no cure for marijuana allergies, there are ways that you can treat the issue. Treatment for marijuana allergies may be as simple as preventing exposure to the plant. However, if you wish to continue a medical marijuana regimen, you can take steps to manage your allergies.

One easy way to treat a marijuana allergy is with over-the-counter allergy medications that contain antihistamines. You may also purchase an over-the-counter asthma medication or inhaler. Albuterol inhalers have been helpful to some people who suffer from allergic reactions to cannabis. Finally, a nasal decongestant or cough syrup may help temper the mild to moderate symptoms of a marijuana allergy. 

There are also other experimental treatments you may try, including the use of cannabinoids. As tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) can dampen immune responses and have anti-inflammatory effects, it is reasonable to believe that they could be used to treat mild allergic reactions to some extent. THC, CBD, and pinene can also open the airways, making such compounds potentially beneficial for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

However, there is little evidence that cannabinoids specifically work for treating allergic reactions. Cannabinoid therapy is a promising research area, and CBD could be an alternative to the more powerful, first-generation antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), which cause drowsiness. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a marijuana allergy common?

Cannabis allergies are not very common. People with hay fever may be more sensitive to the pollen in cannabis plants, and certain varieties may be more likely to cause an allergic reaction than others. 

Can you be allergic to the smell of weed?

In rare instances, you may be allergic to the smell of weed. This allergy will be easy to recognize, with sneezing, itching, and watery eyes among the most common symptoms that people report. 

Can you be allergic to CBD oil?

It’s possible to be allergic to CBD oil, but as with cannabis allergies, the problem is not shared. If you are allergic to CBD oil, you may present many of the same symptoms as general allergies, such as a runny nose, cough, or dry throat. 

Get your medical marijuana card quickly and easily online through Leafwell’s professional clinic. Our doctors are here to work with you and guide you through the process of applying for your MMJ card. 

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