Most people take CBD without any adverse effects, but in rare cases, a bad reaction can occur. Here's when you should be concerned… Some people may experience an allergic reaction to CBD or to other ingredients in the CBD product. It is important to only buy high-quality CBD products to avoid possible allergic reactions.
Bad Reaction to CBD? [When & When Not to Be Concerned]
CBD products are becoming increasingly popular among people of all demographics regardless of gender, age, and even nationality. There has also been an increase in cases of people reporting adverse effects of CBD. Some of these symptoms are considered to be side effects or sensitivity to CBD, while other symptoms may be allergic reactions to CBD.
Humans commonly experience allergic reactions to certain types of plant pollen. Since CBD originates from the cannabis plant, it’s easy to wonder whether you could be allergic to CBD, and more importantly, whether you should be concerned about it.
Bad reactions to CBD certainly aren’t common, but they are possible.
An allergic reaction can be induced by any product that the body deems to be an allergen. Most commonly, allergies occur from medication, insect stings, foods, pet dander, and pollen. Since CBD comes from the cannabis plant, CBD contains properties like histamine and pollen that could cause allergic reactions.
A bad reaction to CBD can range from an itchy nose to breathing problems – which is a lot more serious. To understand the difference between exhibiting side effects of CBD and being allergic to CBD, we need to understand the different symptoms of each. In other words, determining when and when not to be concerned about having a bad reaction to CBD, we will look at the varying degrees of having a “bad reaction.”
Bad Reactions to CBD
A bad reaction to CBD can manifest in several ways. Two people won’t necessarily experience the same symptoms. Also, it can be tricky to distinguish between a CBD allergy and the normal run of the mill CBD side effects. Remember, side effects are not considered to be allergic reactions to CBD.
Potential side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, lethargy, nausea, diarrhea, and drowsiness. Generally speaking, these effects aren’t anything to be concerned about and are typically caused by using too much CBD at once or just having sensitivity to CBD.
CBD allergies, on the contrary, have different effects. An allergic reaction transpires when the immune system overreacts to any substance that the body deems to be a threat. Here are four signs that may suggest that you are having an allergic reaction to CBD:
- Dry, Red, or Itchy Eyes: Marijuana is known for causing red eyes due to dryness. But THC is the culprit of this, not CBD. That said, some users could experience this after using CBD. If you have bloodshot eyes or experience excessive watering, it could be an allergic reaction rather than a side effect.
- Migraines: Some CBD users may experience a slight headache for the first couple of uses, but migraines are an indication of something more serious.
- Skin Irritations: Especially in the case of topical CBD products, some users may develop hives or a rash. This could be caused by the CBD, but it may also result from one of the many other ingredients found in balms and creams.
- Respiratory Problems: If you are having trouble breathing after consuming CBD, you should seek medical help immediately. Breathing issues linked to CBD products are likely the result of poor-quality products that contain contaminants, such as mold or pollen.
Exploring CBD side effects…
What Makes a Person Allergic to CBD?
If you’re wondering why anyone could be allergic to CBD, the short answer is histamines.
Histamines are hormones that are secreted by mast cells in the body. Mast cells form part of the body’s immune system and are located throughout the body. The moment the mast cells notice any foreign substances in the body, it repels them by secreting histamines. As a result, the body triggers a range of reactions. They range from skin irritations and rashes to sneezing, coughing, watering eyes, dizziness, and other symptoms that we have already addressed above.
People with plant allergies are often advised to try to avoid CBD products, especially full-spectrum ones.
Full-spectrum CBD products contain a variety of compounds, and it can be difficult to tell what caused the bad/allergic reaction. It could be plant waxes, coconut oil, trace amounts of THC, pollen, hemp seed oil, or any other ingredient in the product.
How Are CBD Allergies Diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose CBD allergies using two methods: A skin prick test or blood test. The skin prick test is simple, and you get results quickly, but it’s not as accurate as a blood test.
With a skin prick test, a diluted allergen, like CBD, is applied to the skin with a needle. You wait 15 minutes and check if the area on which the CBD was applied appears to be red, inflamed, or itchy. If this is the case, you may be allergic to CBD.
A blood test, on the other hand, is when a sample of blood is drawn to check if there are any CBD antibodies present. In the case of there being more antibodies than expected, you are likely to be allergic to CBD.
Final Thoughts on a Bad Reaction to CBD
CBD is known to be a natural, safe, and well-tolerated compound. For the most part, there is nothing to be concerned about when it comes to the potential side effects of CBD. However, there is a cause for concern for those who have an allergic reaction to CBD. Especially in cases where you experience difficulty breathing.
For this reason, you should be careful when consuming CBD. It’s a great idea to begin with a small amount of CBD to check if you notice any adverse side effects. You should also consult with a doctor to check if they can give you any medical advice regarding what to do if you experience an allergic reaction.
Also, keep in mind that although the general side effects of CBD aren’t believed to be all that harmful, CBD is still a fairly new compound, and research is still being done to determine how exactly CBD could affect users.
Can You Have Allergic Reactions to CBD Oil Products?
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology research indicates that more than 50 million people in the United States experience allergies each year. It also says that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness. It is natural to ask if people experience CBD oil allergies because CBD and other compounds come from the hemp plant, and plants are often the cause of allergies. The answer is complicated because there is limited research coupled with the fact that CBD oil contains numerous compounds and usually other ingredients. The following sections discuss what is known about CBВ oil allergic reactions.
TLDR: Some people may experience an allergic reaction to CBD or to other ingredients in the CBD product. There is minimal research to date on the relationship between CBD and allergies. The allergic reaction may be due to something like terpenes, botanicals, and interactions with medications. It is important to only buy CBD products from companies that provide a Certificate of Analysis showing all the ingredients in the product.
Can You Be Allergic to CBD?
The quick answer to whether you can be allergic to CBD is “yes.” Some people may have an allergic reaction to CBD gummies, topicals, oils or any other product containing CBD. The issue is that people may think they are having an allergic reaction to CBD when it can be something else.
Another point to keep in mind is that some low-quality CBD products may not have all of the ingredients listed on the label or do not use quality-control procedures during the manufacturing process. You could have an allergic reaction and think it is due to CBD when it might be due to contaminants like pesticides or heavy metals.
What is an Allergy?
In simple terms, an allergy is the immune system’s reaction to what is perceived as harmful. The immune system produces immunoglobulin E antibodies in response to allergens. The symptoms are produced to make up for the allergic reaction. You can be allergic to drugs, food, mold, pollen, latex, insects and pet urine, dander or saliva.
Research on Allergies to CBD
There has been some limited research conducted on allergic reactions to CBD. Following are a few of the studies.
- A 2005 study on fragrance terpenes found that the terpenes linalool, limonene and caryophyllene are not allergenic but become allergenic when exposed to air. Since this was a fragrance study, study participants were tested with skin patches. Only 2.9 percent had a reaction, and 58 percent of them had a history of allergic reactions.
- A 2013 study reported in the Internal Archives of Allergy and Immunology said that 12 participants out of 21 people were allergic to cannabis. However, all 21 people had food allergies.
- A 2017 Duke University study reports that 20 percent of study participants experienced an allergic reaction to the terpene linalool. Another 8 percent were allergic to terpene limonene.
- A study in 2018 found that people who have allergies to things like plants, mold and other items have a greater risk of being allergic to cannabis. If something like pollen makes it into a CBD product, you might have an allergic reaction.
Potential Allergic Reactions
Any allergic reaction can lead to different symptoms. Some of the common ones include the following.
- Itchy, dry eyes
- Skin rash or blisters
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
In other words, if there is a reaction to CBD oil products, the symptoms are likely to be similar to an allergic reaction to something like pollen. However, there is always the possibility of more severe reactions, so it is vital to take any symptom seriously. If you experience an allergic reaction, it is wise to see an immunologist and be allergy tested. If you are allergic to CBD oil, there is a good chance you have other allergies, like a food allergy or a plant allergy.
Keep in mind that an allergic reaction to CBD and experiencing side effects from using CBD are not the same. Side effects are physical reactions that do not include an immune system response. For example, diarrhea and fatigue are possible side effects.
Always Buy Quality Products
Some people may experience an allergic reaction to CBD oil products. It is always important to buy high-quality CBD products from companies with a reputation for honesty and transparency. Always review the Certificate of Analysis (COA) to learn about all the ingredients in the product.
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About the Author
Michael Levin is a CBD enthusiast, a researcher, writer and editor in the cannabis space, experienced CBD user and educator. He believes CBD can help improve our overall health and wellbeing.