CBD is one of the most popular wellness products on the market today. However, not everyone can enjoy CBD. If you’ve had a bad reaction to CBD, you may have a hemp allergy.
Some people are allergic to hemp and will have adverse reactions to CBD that range from mild (such as a headache) to severe (hives or anaphylaxis).
This article will explore how allergies work in general and then focus on why someone who has a hemp allergy might react badly after ingesting CBD oil.
What is an allergy?
Allergic reactions occur when your body’s immune system overreacts to a harmless substance, such as dust or pollen.
This immune response can cause symptoms like a runny nose, itching, sneezing, skin redness and irritation, difficulty breathing, wheezing and even chest pain.
In some cases, allergic reactions can be very serious, even deadly. Commonly referred to as anaphylaxis, these types of allergic reactions generally require the use of an EpiPen.
An EpiPen is a device that contains an autoinjector of epinephrine, a hormone that opens up the airways and reverses the symptoms of anaphylaxis.
What are the symptoms of a hemp allergy?
Hemp is technically classified as cannabis, as is marijuana. Therefore, if you are allergic to one, chances are you will be allergic to the other.
While the symptoms of a hemp allergy may range from very mild to severe, if you have had a bad reaction to hemp, the most common signs are skin irritation, itchy throat, and swelling.
Here are some of the other signs that you may be allergic to hemp or cannabis:
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Skin redness
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
- A drop in blood pressure
Interestingly enough, there are some allergies that you may have already that make you more susceptible to a hemp or cannabis allergy.
If you have hay fever, allergies to dust mites or pet dander, as well as eczema and other skin conditions, you are at a higher risk of having an allergic reaction to hemp.
The same is true if you have asthma or other respiratory conditions. In addition, sensitivity to certain substances may increase your risk of developing allergies; if you are sensitive or have had a reaction to pollen or other plants, it can make you more susceptible to a cannabis allergy.
Anyone with these allergies already should be cautious when ingesting CBD for the first time or even applying it topically.
Allergic Reaction to Hemp and CBD
CBD is a chemical compound that comes from hemp or marijuana. It is part of a group of compounds called cannabinoids.
Because CBD is extracted from hemp, if you have an allergy to hemp, you may experience an allergic reaction to it.
Full Spectrum CBD products come with an increased risk of an allergic reaction. This is because Full Spectrum CBD contains various other cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant matter.
If you suspect you may have a hemp allergy, trying out an Isolate product may be an option for you, as it contains only CBD and no other cannabinoids or plant matter.
Side Effects vs. Allergic Reactions to CBD
Just like any other supplement you ingest, you may experience some side effects. While these are generally mild and tend to dissipate the longer you take CBD; there is a big difference between side effects and an allergic reaction.
The most common side effects of CBD are:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Low blood pressure
- Appetite changes
- Dry mouth
- Mood changes
These side effects are all normal. The following, however, may indicate that there is a more serious problem:
- Red, itchy eyes
- Rash/hives or skin irritation/sensitivity
- Tingling/burning of lips, tongue, throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of face, throat, lips, mouth, limbs
If you experience ANY of these, discontinue the use of CBD and contact a doctor. If any of the more serious effects happen, like difficulty breathing or you feel your throat closing up, call 911 immediately.
How you can avoid having a bad reaction to CBD
If you are experiencing unpleasant or even life-threatening symptoms while taking CBD, the most obvious solution is to stop taking it. However, there are other options that may help minimize your risk of an allergic reaction.
Take only a very small amount to start with
If you’re trying out CBD for the first time, or even a new brand, try it in very small doses to start.
Start with just one or two drops and see how your body responds. If you notice any itching, skin irritation, or other signs of a bad reaction, stop using the product immediately.
Use CBD Isolate
Full Spectrum CBD products, which are used to create CBD oil, contain a wide variety of other cannabinoids and plant matter; this increases your chance of a reaction.
A CBD Isolate product is made using only CBD and no other cannabinoids or terpenes. If you know that you have a hemp allergy or have other allergies that put you at a higher risk of being allergic to hemp, using a CBD Isolate product will help reduce the risk of a bad reaction.
Make sure your product comes from a reputable source
Due to the growing popularity of CBD, there are now many companies that produce their own hemp-based products. Unfortunately, while the majority of companies are trustworthy, some shady businesses still exist.
These companies may use inferior ingredients and may try to pass off cheaper, lower-quality CBD as superior. In addition, they may add in unwanted additional chemicals that may cause a reaction themselves.
Always ensure you are sourcing your CBD from reliable companies that lab tests their products. You can find this information in the COA (certificate of analysis) listed for the product on the company’s website.
How can I find out if I have a hemp allergy?
Doctors diagnose hemp allergies through two methods: a skin prick test or a blood test. You get your results immediately with the skin prick test, but it is not as accurate as the blood test.
A skin prick test is a type of medical assessment in which a diluted allergen extract (in this case, hemp or CBD) is poked into the skin with a needle. If a red, inflamed, or itchy area appears where it was applied on your skin after 15 minutes has passed, you may have a hemp allergy.
To more accurately diagnose an allergy to hemp or CBD, a blood test is typically used. If you have more antibodies in your body than expected when testing, this indicates that you are likely allergic to hemp.
Final thoughts on hemp allergies
If you have a bad reaction to CBD, you may be allergic to hemp. However, there are many ways to reduce the risk of an allergic response when using CBD, and these include starting with very small doses or switching over from Full Spectrum products.
Think you may have an allergy to hemp? See your doctor. Your physician can perform either a skin prick test or blood test to determine if you are allergic to hemp/CBD.