Am I Actually Allergic to Weed? The Signs and Symptoms of Cannabis Allergies
Published on 1/11/22
Can you be allergic to weed? Cannabis has a lot of side effects, and sometimes they can be misinterpreted as allergic reactions. That being said, while allergies to cannabis are uncommon, they aren't unheard of. If you're wondering, "Am I allergic to cannabis?" it's an important question to know if the answer to. So, let's dive into cannabis allergies, the common symptoms, and what you should do about it if you think you are allergic.
How Cannabis Normally Affects the Body
When we talk about how cannabis affects the body, we must acknowledge the 400+ compounds that coexist within the plant. These 400 compounds vary in types and levels from plant to plant, meaning that no one cannabis strain will produce the same effect. However, so long as you are using marijuana, there are overarching effects you can usually expect. Of the hundreds of compounds in cannabis, over 100 are cannabinoids, naturally occurring chemical compounds within marijuana that bind to endocannabinoid system receptors throughout our body. THC and CBD are the most common cannabinoids within cannabis. When they bind to these receptors (CB1 and CB2), they cause your body to produce its natural responses in excess. Here are some of the common side effects of using cannabis:
Psychoactive and Cognitive Effects
- Increased and/or decreased anxiety
- Heightened sensory perception
- Difficulties concentrating
- Impaired memory
- Heightened creativity
- Altered perspective
- Colder body temperature
- Red eyes
- Faster heart rate
- Increased phlegm
- Decreased pain & nausea
There may be additional side effects of using marijuana, and the effects of any given strain will vary based on an individual's tolerance and unique biological makeup. There are also a wide variety of medical benefits associated with cannabis. However, the effects above are the most common, immediately noticeable side effects.
Cannabis Allergy Symptoms
Research into cannabis allergies is limited, but we do know that people can be allergic. Here are some of the common reactions given by people with a cannabis allergy:
- Itchy skin
- Puffy eyes
- Swollen throat
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
- Asthmatic symptoms
The most common ways to consume cannabis are inhaling (smoking or vaping), eating, drinking, sublingually, and topically. If you are allergic to cannabis, how you use it will largely determine your reaction.
THC Allergy Research
Several studies have been conducted that give initial insights into why people may be allergic to cannabis. So far, three specific reasons have been identified: lipid transfer proteins (LTPs), cross-reactivity, and terpenes. Let's dive into these in more detail.
Lipid Transfer Proteins
LTPs are proteins commonly found in plant-based foods and pollens, and they are known to act as allergens by causing the human body to produce too many antibodies. One study from 2019, published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology: In Practice, suggested that LTPs in cannabis play a significant role in causing allergic reactions. They are not, however, the only things that cause allergic reactions.
Cross-reactivity is when someone has an allergic reaction to different substances with similar proteins. Studies have shown that individuals allergic to cannabis are also often allergic to proteins found in tomatoes, peaches, and pollen. This underlines that LTPs likely play an incredibly prominent role in allergic reactions to marijuana and that cross-reactivity with food allergies with similar proteins may be the primary suspect.
We talked about cannabinoids above when discussing how cannabis usually affects the body. Another type of compound common in cannabis plays a big role in the body's reaction to cannabis: terpenes. Terpenes are oils secreted by cannabis flower responsible for a plant's aroma and flavor. Terpenes are not only found in cannabis. In fact, terpenes are found in almost all plants - over 50,000 types of terpenes are currently known and roughly 150 of those belong to cannabis. Studies have shown that linalool and limonene's terpenes cause allergic reactions in participating test subjects. Terpenes allergies are common as LTPs allergies, but it is very likely part of the problem.
What To Do If You're Allergic to Weed
Unfortunately, the only guaranteed effective way to deal with marijuana allergies is to not use cannabis. If you believe you are allergic and want to continue using cannabis, your other option is to discuss it with a medical professional. If you're worried about the legality of using cannabis, medical professionals are required by law to keep patient information private. You will not get in trouble with the law if you tell your doctor that you use marijuana, even if you're in a state where it's completely illegal. If you're allergic to cannabis, your doctor may be able to prescribe common allergy treatments, including nasal sprays and antihistamines.
Are you allergic to weed? Let us know what your symptoms are, what triggers them exactly, and how you handle the situation. Comment below!