Can You Be Allergic to Weed?

When Spring has sprung and the flowers, trees and weeds bloom many of us experience allergy symptoms. Speaking of weed, can you be allergic to marijuana?! Surprisingly, there are some people who consider themselves allergic to weed - some might be right, some might be believing the stigma. Let's discuss what is known about cannabis allergies today.
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Have you ever met someone who claimed they get skin rashes from weed? Bad reactions to bad indicas or hemp allergies are rare, but when they happen they can skew a person against cannabis as a whole. Allergic reactions to marijuana can come in many different forms: skin rashes from weed topicals, puffy eyes or swollen throat from smoking, nausea/irritated bowels from ingesting an edible. Just like any kind of allergies, a person’s genetics, overall health, nutrition/diet and fitness can play major roles in how adverse their reactions might be. What causes someone to have an allergic reaction to weed?

What Kinds of Allergic Reactions to Marijuana Are There?

Marijuana allergies aren’t like your average, seasonal pollen allergy symptoms – they’re more like the sudden onset of a food borne allergic reaction. Unlike these other allergies, however, many allergic reactions to marijuana have unfortunately been mislabeled over the years due to the ever-present stigma surrounding cannabis. There has always been a pervasive lack of research and open-mindedness towards cannabis since the early 1900’s, when cannabis and hemp were both made illicit substances due to misunderstanding, fear and corporate interests.

Since the era of demonization throughout the 1900’s and into the 21st century, cannabis and hemp have both come long ways towards acceptance in societies all over the world. There is still much work to be done to truly understand this plant in all its varieties, and we’ve only just begun breaking down the barriers of stigma. One thing we’ve realized since committing more to researching cannabis much more closely is that some of the supposed allergic reactions to weed or hemp allergy symptoms have been mistaken for the effects of cannabinoids.

That being said, there are still those who suffer from symptoms of skin rashes from weed, bad reactions to indicas or sativas, or a range of allergic reactions to marijuana. These allergic reactions to weed ranged in symptoms from mild to persistent, including:

Rashes, skin irritation, including hives

Queasiness, nausea, cramping or bloating

Dizziness, fatigue, lethargy

Can Marijuana Kill You?

The kind of allergic reaction to marijuana that you experience will typically correlate with the kind of cannabis product you’ve consumed – i.e. skin rashes from weed topicals, nausea or bloating from cannabis edibles or oils, dizziness from smoking, etc. Skin rashes from weed products are one of the most common signs of a marijuana allergy, so be on the lookout for skin irritation or hives as the earliest indicator that you’re allergic to cannabis. Scratchy throats or difficulty breathing is another common symptom of cannabis allergic reactions, but this one needs to be monitored much closer due to the potential for health risks.

The issue with diagnosing cannabis allergies comes into play when you consider the other ingredients or additives in cannabis products. On top of this, there’s the conundrum of what the plants might’ve been grown with – chemical fertilizers, pesticides or other processing agents. Many people have had reactions to cannabis or hemp and have falsely assumed that the plant itself caused their allergic symptoms. Whether you’ve ingested an edible, smoked a joint, rubbed on cannabis oils or creams or consumed cannabis in any other way, it’s important to keep in mind the other inputs that might’ve contributed to how you’re feeling.

Hemp allergy symptoms aren’t as common due to the reduced number of varieties of this particular branch of the cannabaceae plant, but they can manifest in similar ways to cannabis allergies. There are a lot of combinations of symptoms in varying degrees of severity from marijuana allergies, but what causes a person to feel allergic reactions from weed? Let’s uncover a few of the researched causes of allergic reactions to marijuana.

What Causes Allergic Reactions to Weed?

As previously stated, cannabis research has not caught up to the knowledge & practices of the cannabis community, but now that it is becoming increasingly deregulated and legalized we can expect the flow of research data to continue. Currently, what is known about cannabis allergic reactions is that many cases of cannabis or hemp allergies can be attributed to a few causes: LTPs, plant protein cross reactivity and cannabinoids/terpinoid sensitivities.
Can Marijuana Kill You?

LTPs

LTPs, or lipid transfer proteins, are a plant protein strain that has been shown to trigger allergic reactions in people across multiple studies. LTPs are also found in many plant-derived foods, some pollens and other plant spores. So, LTPs aren’t unique to cannabis, but they are known to cause a reactive response in our systems whenever they’re introduced. LTP sensitivity from cannabis seems to trigger this immune-response in varying degrees. LTPs hint at the possibility of further targeting peoples’ allergic reactions to marijuana with more research.

Can Marijuana Kill You?

Plant Protein Cross Reactivity

Other studies of reactions to cannabis and hemp have led researchers to conclude that people who have other food allergies – such as nut allergies, fruit or other plant-based allergies – might be more susceptible to allergic reactions from weed. Some plant proteins, such as LTPs, can cause cross reactivity in people especially if they are already sensitive to certain plant proteins already. From numerous research projects in recent years, people who were sensitive to cannabis or showed hemp allergy symptoms also demonstrated allergic reactions to peaches, tomatoes and other plant foods. This connection provides more questions than answers, but it leads us towards a clearer picture as more studies are conducted.

Can Marijuana Kill You?

Cannabinoid & Terpinoid Sensitivity

In some cases, terpenes or cannabinoids themselves can be the agents for allergic reactions to weed or hemp. Although these cases have been very rare in occurrence, some studies have pointed to patients showing sensitivities to specific terpenes like linalool, myrcene or cannabinoids like THCV. These isolated cases require further analysis to determine if the terpene itself caused the person to break out in hives, or whether something else in combination could’ve led to their reaction.

Cannabis and Diabetic Retinopathy

Cannabis is also well-documented for its capacity for reducing the effects of harmful conditions like arterial disease, heart attacks and diabetic retinopathy. Damage to the eyes related to diabetic symptoms include weakening sight, blurring or loss of vision. Consistent cannabis use has been linked to avoiding these issues. Cannabis can lead to reduced inflammation and a decrease in oxidative stress on the eyes can be the difference between maintaining healthy vision or experiencing blurriness or blindness.

What To Do If You Have An Allergic Reaction to Marijuana?

If you experience symptoms of a hemp allergy or reaction to cannabis, it’s important that you remain calm and seek medical attention, if necessary. Most allergic reactions manifest in mild symptoms of itchiness or skin rashes from weed, lightheadedness or slight bouts of nausea. If any of these symptoms occur, stop consuming the particular cannabis product and sit/lie down to rest.

If these symptoms persist after several hours, or if your condition continues to worsen, seek medical attention immediately. It’s imperative that you keep the packaging or a sample of the cannabis that you consumed with you when you go to the doctor’s office or emergency room. Always try to remain calm and do what you can to relax your mind & body. Even though many people rely on CBD to help them relax, in this instance we’d advise against taking CBD to calm yourself, even if it is hemp-derived.

You can be allergic to marijuana, but it doesn’t have to mean the end for your involvement with this plant in all its varieties. If you experience an allergic reaction to weed products, consult with your healthcare practitioners to try and figure out what was the primary cause for your allergic outbreak. Sometimes switching up cannabis strains or product types is enough to avoid repeated reactions, but be careful and move forward with some support from your trusted medical professionals.

Can Marijuana Kill You?
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