CBD for Allergies- Does it Provide Relief?
CBD has been on the front pages of numerous medical publications for the past five years, and from the looks of things, this interest is not wavering any time soon. CBD is one of the primary cannabinoids present in the marijuana plant. We are deep in the wake of the legalization wave, pushing CBD and other cannabinoids to the forefront of scientific research and medical studies.
The media is awash with articles about all the things CBD can do . As a consumer, you’re probably wondering whether all these are factual. Does CBD really help with anxiety? Relieve pain? Curb insomnia? Help with acid reflux and GERD ?
Although we can’t possibly provide the answers to all these concerns in one write-up, we can help reduce the uncertainty- at least in one regard. In this article, we’ll be looking at how effective CBD is in easing allergies or whether it is effective at all. To do this, we’ll need to get into what exactly CBD is, besides providing a small breakdown of what causes allergies.
What is CBD?
The term CBD stands for cannabidiol , a chemical compound that occurs naturally in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not get you high. This is one of the reasons most people favor CBD over THC, even though these two compounds have completely different benefits and effects.
CBD works in conjunction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), an (internal) network of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and catalytic enzymes. The ECS plays a huge role in maintaining homeostasis in the body, or simply, a steady state of balance.
Since it is spread throughout the body, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for behavioral and physiological processes such as digestion, movement, anxiety, and even immune responses. Now that we’ve seen how CBD works in the body, let’s take a look at what allergies are, and how and why they manifest.
Allergies are natural responses that occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, pet dander, or bee sting venom. For many people, these responses may even be caused by eating certain foods that other people can tolerate quite comfortably.
The immune system protects the body from alien bodies by producing antibodies. Allergic responses happen when the body produces antibodies to combat a body that it considers harmful, even when it isn’t. When your body comes into contact with this allergen, the immune system responds in ways that may cause inflammation to the skin, digestive system, airways, and more.
Some people tend to have more severe allergic reactions than others. For example, while many only feel mild discomfort and irritation, others experience anaphylaxis- a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that may occur as quickly as within minutes of exposure to an allergen.
Can CBD Help With Allergies?
Allergies happen because your immune system is working in overdrive. Most allergic reactions manifest as inflammation, which is coincidentally one of the world’s leading underlying causes of pain .
In a bid to protect you from pathogens, allergens, and other perceived intruders, the body’s white blood cells release different chemicals. One of these is histamine , a nitrogenous compound that increases the flow of blood and other fluid to the affected part of the body. This fluid buildup causes swelling and, ultimately, pain and discomfort- a phenomenon technically referred to as inflammation.
How Does CBD Help With Inflammation?
According to this report , CBD has properties that provide anti-inflammation effects. To understand how this works, you should first know that inflammation is initiated by signaling molecules called eicosanoids.
CBD effectively curbs inflammation by inhibiting the production and function of COX-2, an eicosanoid enzyme, in the body. Aspirin, Advil, and other pharmaceutical drugs target COX-2, thus helping combat inflammation in a similar way. Taking CBD helps block the signal pathways, effectively intercepting the immune system’s response to allergens, thereby easing and sometimes preventing inflammation.
Is CBD a Lower-Risk Allergy Treatment?
Since CBD is extracted from industrial hemp, a plant, it is by and large considered a natural and organic treatment for allergies, inflammation, and a host of other medical issues. Although pharmaceutical antihistamine medication helps combat allergic reactions effectively, they tend to have numerous side effects, especially when used long-term.
Some of the common side effects of allergy medication include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Moodiness and restlessness, especially in young children
- Difficulty when peeing/inability to pee
- Confusion, and
- Reward addiction
(NB: Reward addiction occurs when one gets addicted to the effects, or rewards, of using certain substances rather than the substance itself. For example, whereas one would typically become addicted to alcohol itself, most people become addicted to the reward of taking allergy and pain medication. In such cases, the reward is the relief the medication brings.)
CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and non-addictive, meaning it doesn’t pose similar threats. It also does not carry such side effects. One may even argue that the cannabinoid is a lower-risk allergy treatment, even though it’s not technically an antihistamine itself. However, it is worth noting that taking too much CBD may also bring about drowsiness and nausea.
How Can CBD Work for Allergies?
As we’ve mentioned before, the body’s endocannabinoid system is a complex network that helps establish and maintain an internal state of balance (homeostasis). This system releases a series of endocannabinoids (cannabinoids naturally produced by cells in the body) to regulate different aspects of being, from mood and appetite to pain and inflammation.
According to this report, CBD can stop most cells from releasing histamines , which play a huge role in allergic reactions and inflammation. This will, by extension, keep you from experiencing sneezes, watery eyes, coughs, and other frustrating symptoms. CBD, a well-known anti-inflammation agent, can also help during allergic reactions by reducing swelling, pain, and irritation.
Based on how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, the cannabinoid may help with allergic reactions in the following ways:
- Managing pain and inflammation
- Relieving mucus and congestion
- Easing nasal pressure
- Clearing up the air passageways, thus
- Making it easier to breathe
To get an even clearer picture of how CBD can provide relief for your allergies, let’s take a look at how the compound works in instances of chronic pain.
CBD for Chronic Pain
The CBD industry is still quite young, which implies that there’s a significant lack of comprehensive scientific information on the cannabinoid and the benefits of consuming it. However, more studies are currently underway.
That said, preliminary research suggests that CBD can work quite effectively as a pain relief agent. As we’ve mentioned, the compound works in tandem with the endocannabinoid system to provide relief from painful symptoms. This makes it incredibly useful in managing arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions that cause pain and inflammation.
CBD does this by changing how the brain receives signals from your body or intercepting these signals altogether. This ultimately affects how the brain perceives , interprets, and responds to pain.
How to Use CBD Oil for Allergies
Even though Spring is a beautiful time where flowers bloom and the weather is nice, it is many people’s least favorite season. This is due to the bevy of allergies that tend to leave us sneezing and feeling irritated. It’s, therefore, no wonder that people are turning to CBD oil to help ease the congestion, inflammation, and discomfort that typically come with allergies.
CBD is sold in many different forms, the most common being edibles, high-CBD strains, and oils. So, how do you use CBD oil for allergies? CBD oil is incredibly easy to consume, and due to its physical form, very quickly absorbed. This makes it perfect for use whenever quick relief is needed.
Place one or two drops under your tongue; wait for 30-60 seconds, then swallow. In a couple of minutes, you’ll begin to feel the calm relief that CBD brings. You may also place a few drops into a warm cup of coffee or tea and consume your oil in this way.
Should You Vape CBD Oil for Allergies?
Vaping (and smoking) are the most common ways of consuming THC. This is quickly becoming a reality for CBD too. When you use vape pens, the vapor goes to your lungs and is immediately absorbed into your bloodstream. You’d therefore feel the effects almost immediately, or at least within just a few minutes,
If you’re seeking quick relief, it goes without saying that vaping may seem like the best solution. However, you should know that many CBD vapes contain other additives and ingredients that may not be suitable for inhalation. These include thinners such as vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol.
When heated, propylene glycol breaks down into potentially harmful aldehydes that may coat and irritate the lungs. This is the last thing you want, especially if your allergies manifest in the form of sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or asthma attacks.
What’s the Correct CBD Dosage for Allergies?
CBD oil may be a good place to start if you’re looking to reinforce your allergy medication or ditch it altogether. You can take CBD every day; since it is non-psychoactive, it won’t affect your day-to-day activities in any way. If anything, it may even augment them!
At this point, you’re probably wondering what the correct dosage of CBD for allergies is. Different studies that have used CBD to target certain problems used different dosages. That, coupled with the fact that people tend to react differently to different dosages, means that the proper dosage is not set in stone. It would, therefore, be a good idea to consult with your physician before settling on a particular amount.
That said, we recommend starting with a lower dose of, say, 10-20 mg and working your way up as per your needs. This will help you gauge your body’s response more accurately and ensure you don’t take more CBD than you need to.
The year is 2050, more than 3 decades since the wave of cannabis legalization began. More scientific research has been carried out in regards to the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids. We know for sure how it interacts with the body and how it can reinforce our health and wellbeing. More pharmaceutical companies have come on board and are now incorporating this beautiful compound in their medication, thereby helping maintain health in a natural, organic way.
Although this may seem like a pipe dream at this point, we’re heading there. Three decades ago, even an ounce of marijuana could land you in jail. But look where we are now.
Novel Brain Imaging System Quantifies THC-Related Impairment in Cannabis Users
Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)-assessed prefrontal cortex (PFC) signaling changes were found to objectively categorize delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) intoxication. These findings were published in Neuropsychopharmacology.
Use of THC impairs cognitive and psychomotor performance and has been associated with doubling the risk for fatal motor vehicle crashes. Despite its association with impaired driving, an evidence-based field sobriety assessment for THC has not been established. This study evaluated the potential for a portable imaging system to effectively quantify THC impairment in cannabis users.
Between 2017 and 2020, adults (N=169) aged 18-55 years who reported weekly or more cannabis use were recruited in the greater Boston area. Participants were randomized to receive oral dronabinol, a synthetic THC, or placebo on differing study days. The dronabinol dosage was determined by the participant’s cannabis usage up to a maximum of 80 mg. On the study visit, participants underwent urine drug screening to ensure they were free from intoxicating substances, they rated their level of intoxication at 20-minute intervals after drug ingestion, responded to a Drug Effects Questionnaire, underwent a physical examination, fNIRS, and an extended field sobriety test.
Participants were aged mean 25.2 (standard deviation [SD], 6.4) years, 50.9% were men, 67.5% were White, 56.2% were cannabis daily users, who began regular use at 19 (SD, 3.9) years of age.
There were 93 participants who self-rated themselves as intoxicated during the study compared with 96 as rated by the clinical consensus ratings (CCR). A total of 80 participants had concordant results with CCR and self-assessed intoxicated classification. The dose for the 80 participants with concordant results was 35.6±11.5 mg. Similarly, there were 57 participants with concordant ratings of not impaired and they had an average dose of 34.8±16.1 mg.
The participants who were impaired had greater subjective, physiologic, and cognitive effects compared with the participants who were not clearly impaired, despite no significant difference in the average THC dose received.
The field sobriety test classified 64.5% of participants as impaired following THC use and 21.6% impaired following placebo use. Among only field sobriety tests administered following THC use, the average dose for impaired individuals was 36.0 mg compared with 32.9 mg (P =.28) among participants classified as not impaired.
During a memory task, the fNIRS found increased oxygenated hemoglobin concentration in the PFC after THC intoxication compared with baseline or after placebo (P <.05).
Using fNIRS scan data with self-rated impairment, a machine learning approach classified impairment with an accuracy of 76.4%, positive predictive value of 69.8%, false positive rate of 10.0%, and an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.83.
The fNIRS approach may be limited in the field as optical detectors must be shielded from sunlight and certain movements, such as moving one’s eyebrows can cause motion artifacts in the assessment.
These data indicated that “impairment due to THC intoxication was associated with increased PFC activation on a simple memory task assessed with fNIRS. […] As we showed that there was no difference in THC dose between those who became impaired from those who did not following THC, it is likely that a brain- or behavior-based metric (eg, eye tracking or cognitive testing), rather than a per se blood or oral fluid limit of THC, is required to distinguish THC impairment from simple exposure.”
Disclosure: Multiple authors declared affiliations with industry. Please refer to the original article for a full list of disclosures.
Gilman JM, Schmitt WA, Potter K, et al. Identification of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) impairment using functional brain imaging. Neuropsychopharmacology. Published online January 8, 2022. doi:10.1038/s41386-021-01259-0