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Addressing Concerns: Can You Be Allergic to CBD?

10 min read

There is a growing use of CBD products and, with it, the rising concern about potential allergic reactions. Can you be allergic to CBD? Yes. CBD is derived from a plant, so if you have allergies to the cannabis plant, you can get a CBD allergic reaction. 

Can CBD cause allergic reactions if you aren’t allergic to the plant? Yes. Not all products are made the same. Something might say “CBD” on it but also contain other additives, usually plant-based, so if you have any allergies to the additional products or ingredients, you might get a reaction similar to an allergic reaction to CBD. 

allergic reaction to cbd

Risk factors of allergies

Allergies to anything can be:

  1. Environmental 
  2. Genetic

If you have family members who are allergic to grass, pine trees, or other plants and flowers, it is likely that you have some form of allergy to those things, too. If you do not have a genetic allergy, your environment can expose you to pollutants that cause an allergy. 

With CBD products, the environmental risk comes from impure products. The genetic risk comes from a known allergy to one of the ingredients, possibly CBD. 

Common CBD side effects

It is important to understand common CBD side effects so that you can differentiate between a CBD allergic reaction and regular side effects.

Common side effects have been reported as:

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Nausea 
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Dizziness

The common side effects are not anything that could incapacitate a person but, rather, might make them a little uncomfortable. Sometimes, the regular side effects will go away on their own, like dry mouth, which is caused by a temporary change to saliva production in the mouth or can be easily managed with over-the-counter medications like diarrhea. 

Common allergic reactions to CBD

That said, a CBD allergic reaction has much stronger effects, which can incapacitate a person. 

Skin reactions

Skin reactions are the most common allergic reaction to CBD if you are applying something topically. This can be:

  1. Hives
  2. Swelling
  3. A rash
  4. Itching 

Most of these will go away with time, and you can wash the area to which any CBD was applied to help with that. If, however, a large dose was applied and absorbed into the body through the skin before the reaction began to manifest, it could cause internal signs as well. 

Respiratory issues

Respiratory issues are a common allergic reaction to several natural products, including CBD. Whether you used a topical cream, an oil under the tongue, or a gummy, you could experience problems breathing as an allergic reaction. This can be managed with things like prescription inhalers or allergy medication. Allergic medication puts a stop to the histamine reaction, which causes inflammation in the local area, helping to improve breathing.

Nasal symptoms

Other signs you might be allergic to CBD include nasal problems. Normally, any symptom will appear almost immediately after consuming or applying the CBD product, but some can take up to 20 minutes to appear. Nasal symptoms can include:

  1. A stuffy nose
  2. Congestion 

Gastrointestinal problems

Other problems can include gastrointestinal problems. This one is perhaps the hardest to differentiate from common CBD side effects given that diarrhea is one of the common side effects. However, allergic reactions to CBD might take place in the gut when the product is being digested. This is common for food-related items like gummies. It can involve:

  1. Abdominal cramps
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Diarrhea

If you have vomiting and diarrhea, be sure to hydrate. The symptoms will pass within 24-48 hours as the CBD is processed and removed from your system. Be on the lookout for severe dehydration from diarrhea, though. 

Swelling

Under normal conditions, swelling is the body’s response to a problem. White blood cells are sent to the area in a rush to start the healing process, and this rush of new blood causes the swelling. 

Generally, it is not advisable to take medication unnecessarily to reduce swelling, as this can slow down the healing process. Swelling is likely to accompany things like skin problems or respiratory issues. It might be warm to the touch, painful or tender, and possibly itchy. 

The swelling may or may not be visible, as it can be inside the body. Significant swelling can be managed with allergy medication and anti-inflammatory medication, but if severe, it should be treated by a doctor. 

Anaphylactic symptoms

The most severe CBD allergic reaction is anaphylactic symptoms, where a person’s throat and mouth begin to swell and close up. This can be lethal, and if experiencing these symptoms, it is imperative to get immediate medical help. 

allergic to cbd

Precautions to take when trying CBD products for the first time

If you have any known allergies to plants, proceed with CBD products carefully. Try something extremely small in dosage and concentration, picking the lowest you can find. 

For example, a topical oil or cream can be applied to the skin in extremely small doses to watch for initial skin reactions. If you see swelling and skin reactions, wash away the affected area immediately and take medication for allergies. Be on the lookout for additional symptoms, such as respiratory issues or gastrointestinal problems, as the CBD gets absorbed into the bloodstream. 

If you do not have known plant allergies, you should proceed with caution, taking a single, small dose with a small CBD concentration your first time. Monitor yourself for any allergic reactions common to you, such as migraines, itching, swelling, or respiratory problems. 

Note: If you have any known allergies that cause typical reactions, for which you take injections, inhalers, prescriptions, or over-the-counter medications, have those on hand the first time you take CBD products. 

What to do if someone experiences an allergies reaction to CBD

If you are with someone asking, “Can CBD cause allergic reactions?” it is likely because they suffer from allergies regularly or have had allergic reactions in the past. In case this is their first time using CBD, encourage them to have any of their normal allergy medications present. 

If you are with someone who experiences an allergic reaction to CBD, check their symptoms. For example:

  • If they took a gummy and are experiencing respiratory symptoms, ask if they have an inhaler or allergy medication. If they can, throw the gummy up. If they can’t, get them medication and call 9-1-1 for serious breathing problems. 
  • If they use CBD oil and they are experiencing swelling in the mouth, make sure their airway is still clear and they can talk/swallow. If they can, provide them with any medication for allergies they brought, or you have in a first aid kit or medicine cabinet, check with them first. 

Note: Always get their permission if they can give it before you give anyone medication. If they are unconscious or unable to breathe, call 9-1-1. 

Summing Up

Can you be allergic to CBD? Yes, you can, whether it is the actual CBD or another ingredient in the product. Understanding the distinction between an allergic reaction to CBD and common side effects of CBD is important when distinguishing the proper response and treatment needed. If you are taking CBD for the first time, be aware of your previous allergies and use small concentrations and small doses.

Frequently Asked Questions

While allergic reactions to CBD are rare, they are not impossible. Some individuals may be sensitive to certain components in CBD products, such as carrier oils or other additives. It’s essential to start with small doses when trying CBD for the first time and monitor your body’s response. If you experience any adverse reactions, consult with a healthcare professional promptly.

Allergic reactions may be specific to certain components within CBD products, such as carrier oils or flavorings. If you suspect an allergy, consider trying products with different formulations or opting for CBD isolates, which contain only pure CBD without other cannabinoids or compounds. Again, consult with a healthcare professional for guidance.

Allergic reactions can occur in any population, but individuals with a history of allergies or hypersensitivity to cannabis-related products may be at a slightly higher risk. Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals, as well as those with compromised immune systems, should exercise caution and seek professional advice before using CBD.

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The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act require this notice.
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