In recent years, cannabis allergy has become more and more common. Not surprisingly, legalization is affecting more and more countries, and patients are less likely to hide the use of cannabis when communicating with a doctor.
In fact, a cannabis allergy isn't all that different from an allergy to pollen from other plants, with some common symptoms that allergy sufferers are familiar with:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Urticaria or skin rash
- Swelling of the face, lips and/or tongue
- Difficulties with breathing
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Cannabis can also cause skin allergies if the user comes into direct contact with the plant. In a longstanding 2007 study evaluating cannabis allergy symptoms, a skin test showed that cannabis can cause specific skin irritation. This manifestation of allergy resembles some forms of dermatitis: itching, inflammation and redness, urticaria, dryness and peeling of the skin.
In addition, in rare cases, an allergy to cannabis can cause anaphylaxis, a serious condition in which the user's blood pressure drops and airways become blocked. Because this is an obviously life-threatening condition, the consumer should seek immediate medical attention. And if you can't talk openly with your doctor about your use, it's best to cut cannabis out of your life.
How do you know if you are allergic to cannabis? There are two options - use it or pass special medical tests. However, by doing neither, one can assume one's likelihood of being allergic to cannabis. In medicine, there is such a thing as a cross-allergic reaction, this is when the immune system responds not only to certain allergens, but also to contact with products similar to the main allergen. If you are allergic to tomatoes, peaches, apples, citrus fruits, eggplant, or nuts, then it is likely that you may be allergic to cannabis as well. But in a 2018 study, it was found that those who already suffer from non-food allergies were highly likely to be allergic to cannabis: cats, mold, dust, and the flowering of some plants.
Why can cannabis cause allergies at all? As briefly as possible: cannabis is a dioecious plant - there are male and female plants. Inflorescences (cones) of female plants are used. So, female plants are kept separate from male plants so that the plants do not come into contact, which leads to the formation of seeds and a decrease in the quality of the cones. And in this isolation from men, female plants gain a maximum of essential oils and terpenes in cones, and it is precisely this saturation, for which everyone appreciates female plants so much, that causes allergies.
And how to get rid of allergies, if you still have it? There is currently no treatment for cannabis allergy. A person may take antihistamines to manage symptoms and reduce discomfort. But the only 100% way to get rid of an allergy is to refuse to use the allergen so that the reaction does not get worse. And if you are allergic to the plant itself, and not to its use, then it is easier - to protect the skin and respiratory organs as much as possible when in contact with the plant.