“It just happened so fast. Allergies have only been an inconvenience until about a month ago. Now they are controlling my life!”
Theresa sounded desperate.
Whenever a friend of mine has a problem, I feel the urge to do something. It’s called empathy and I’m cursed to live with it.
I had no idea how I could help her. My brain was on a strike- darn summer high temperatures!
But she did.
“Why don’t you research about CBD oil and allergies? Even if CBD does not directly affect allergies, there are benefits that might enable an allergy sufferer to carry on. Better sleep, helping with stress. Many indirect benefits that can help”
I started wondering whether CBD can offer her a helping hand.
Is it possible that it can help her undergo less mental, psychological and physical distress from her allergies?
You know me and you can safely bet on what my next move was: I grabbed my “magnifying glass” and started examining the situation- a second Hercules Poirot in action!
I warn you. There will be evidence of the crime left for you to collect as you read on.
Grab your tissues, folks; we are about to dive into your allergies. Runny noses and watery eyes are unquestionably allowed 🙂
Understanding your immune system
You are wondering what the immune system has to do with allergies, right?
Well, being an order freak and a proud owner of a deviating brain, I have to guide you through the right path for a simple reason: allergies, in whatever form they occur, are immune-mediated ailments.
You may not know it but your body is involved in an everlasting war.
You live in an incredibly germy world. You are literally surrounded by bacteria and fungi and viruses and all sorts of evil guys and gals that are determined to use you and your system’s supplies to find shelter and feed themselves and reproduce and raise their kids who will continue the family’s legacy and live happily ever after. In your body. Without your consent.
They will live happily. I have doubts about you.
Ok, we all need to make a living. But we won’t camp on someone else’s patio and devour his orchard or vegetable garden or milk his goats or harvest his field.
Likewise, you are not expected to give these fellows free roof or lunch. No, sir!
To protect itself and consequently you, your body has developed a defense strategy towards these undesired and invasive visitors and has assigned its implementation to an ingenious system.
Don’t think that your immune system is similar to all other systems in your body.
It is an Outstanding Confederation which comprises a troop of various tissue groups, organ systems, and specialized but widely and wisely distributed guard cells waiting in ambush for invaders.
The members of this alliance join forces to perform all the defense functions your body relies on to conserve your health and life.
At the front line of your safeguarding mechanism, your innate or nonspecific defense system’s snipers are on patrol for intruders 24/7.
You were born with natural barricades (the external layers of your skin), mucous membranes and a whole bunch of internal G.I. Joes like phagocytes, monocytes, lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, antimicrobial proteins, and other assault cells.
Nevertheless, some invaders must be struck by Special Missions Units. And here your body gives the order to your adoptive or specific defense system to take care of the situation.
Being your system’s Delta Force, your adoptive defense system requires more time to be engaged but it is trained to eliminate distinct targets.
This is where your body starts implementing strategic stratagems like releasing a barrage of chemical signals, causing inflammation or deploying other defensive maneuvers which enable it to recognize and tackle contagious intruders.
Moreover, special cells (“Men In Black” kind of chaps that form what I call the Internal Intelligence Service of your body) keep records (antibodies) about those enemies and inform the troops about them, enabling them to recognize and defeat them the next time around.
Why do allergies happen?
It’s obvious that the purpose of your immune system is to shield you from invading pathogens such as bacterial cells or viruses or parasites or intestinal worms or amoebas or every other harmful substance and microorganism that could potentially threaten your health and disrupt the state of homeostasis within your body.
We all know that nobody is perfect.
Unfortunately, even the best do make mistakes.
Sometimes your immune system’s soldiers get either confused or over-reactive and perceive a totally innocent and harmless foreign substance (like pollen for example) that enters your body as a harmful, pathogenic intruder.
This elicits a defensive response, known as an allergic reaction and all the G.I. Joes (immune cells) are summoned to attack the dangerous invader (allergen).
In the meantime, the “Men-in-Black” cells are activated and start producing large quantities of antibodies specific to that allergen. The antibodies then connect to mast cells (leukocytes containing the chemical histamine) making them sensitive to the particular allergen.
Pollen is incorrectly labeled as dangerous for your system and it will be considered a deadly enemy from now on.
The next time this non-harmful substance enters your body the “misinformed” mast cells quickly assault.
They attach to the allergen and start a chemical attack by causing the release of histamine and other natural substances. These chemicals enter the surrounding tissue and cause many of the “early” phase allergic reaction’s symptoms.
About two to four hours later another response occurs. Your body’s Delta Force troops (adaptive defense system) become activated and start a second chemical attack causing the “late” phase reaction’s symptoms.
The process of sensitization to pollen has been concluded.
The next time pollen or every other allergen you have become allergic to enters your body, your immune system will react to it causing you from insignificant or nonexistent to serious and potentially life-threatening symptoms.
What are the symptoms of allergies?
Every armed conflict has casualties.
The combat taking place inside your body creates a series of consecutive victims but, unfortunately, your well-being is the one and only true “fatality”.
The stages of the allergic response known as an allergic cascade influence several parts of your body. (let me forget it’s allergies we are talking about. I need to dream I am next to a waterfall!)
The “early” and “late” phases of the allergic cascade occur when chemical mediators like histamine are released, victimizing different parts of your body.
- Nose: Perhaps the most common victim of all, it is affected by airborne allergens like pollen. The usual symptoms are a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and itching.
- Eyes: Watery eyes with puffy eyelids, swollen or red eyes, and again itching.
- Throat: Throat clearing, cough, sore throat, or (of course) itchy throat.
- Skin: dry, red and cracked skin, rashes or hives, and/or (you guessed it) itching.
- Lungs: (No itching here; if they could itch they probably would). Wheezing (or even asthma), chest tightness, shortness of breath, cough.
- Mouth: swollen lips or tongue.
- Intestine: Diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach or stomach pain.
The above symptoms are caused by various allergens during the phases of the allergic cascade.
The “late” phase, though, is the one responsible for inflammation, swelling, and congestion within the afflicted areas.
What are the consequences of allergies?
Some of you may think that some sneezing and a bit of itching are simply inconvenient and embarrassing.
They are more than that.
According to the data provided by the American College Of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology,
“allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year”
Lots of hypersensitivities have been found to be the culprits of the development of chronic and devastating physical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), rhinitis or atopic dermatitis (eczema).
In the case of lungs, the recurrent inhalations of airborne allergens can trigger persistent reactions which may lead to chronic or persistent allergic asthma.
Moreover, in severe allergic responses (insect bites, specific drugs or certain foods), there is the risk of the development of anaphylaxis. An anaphylactic reaction involves more than one system of your body and may lead to a worsening of the symptoms causing shock, respiratory discomfort, and even death.
Theresa is allergic to cleaning chemicals, and synthetic fragrances. She gets stressed every time her allergy pays her a visit or even in the thought that it might knock on her door.
“Is there a relationship between allergies and anxiety?”
she asked me the other day.
There is and it is complicated.
In a recent study (2019), German and Swiss researchers investigated the possible connections between the presence of various types of allergies and conditions such as depression, generalized anxiety disorders, and stress.
The results of the study revealed that participants with seasonal allergies tended to suffer from generalized anxiety while those with year-long allergies were more prone to suffer from depression instead.
Living with an allergy is certainly not a piece of cake.
To put things straight, your allergies will not cause you anxiety. The stress and discomfort of having to live with their symptoms may lead you to anxiety or make it worse. And at the same time, your anxiety may make your allergies worse.
A pretty nasty vicious circle, isn’t it?
Theresa avoids hugging her son every time he wears a deodorant or perfume. He must wait for his hair to dry before he can approach his mum. The synthetic fragrances found in shampoos and shower gels may trigger an allergic response in her body.
Theresa avoids people whose clothes have been rinsed with fabric softener. Her neighbor’s laundry can make her sick. She has to stay away from places with air fresheners.
So, she isolates herself.
She feels guilty for not being able to give a hug to her son whenever he wants it. She feels sad she has to avoid friends and neighbors. Yet, she can’t help being careful. Nor can she stop being sad about this.
Society tends to isolate allergy sufferers, too.
“I remember when the kids were little and I used to attend meetings that had childcare.
One of the caretakers had bad allergies.
Some of the mothers were hesitant to leave their children with her because she seemed to have a cold and they didn’t want their kids to get sick.
The caregiver also drew away from people because she was a bit embarrassed to be constantly grabbing tissues and wiping her nose. She was embarrassed by her appearance because her eyes made it look as though she had been crying.
I never thought about the social impact but I guess it is a very real part of allergies”.
I am sure, Theresa’s and the caretaker’s stories are similar to the stories of most allergy sufferers.
Lots of you can identify yourselves behind the boundaries your allergies have set for you in social and interpersonal level.
“No Man Is an Island,” wrote John Donne (I bet he wasn’t allergic!) But lots of you have become “islands, entire for yourselves” because of the limitations your condition imposes upon you.
Can CBD oil relieve your allergies’ symptoms?
I know you can answer this question. At least, those of you who have collected the “evidence“ can respond to it.
While reading, you have encountered words such as homeostasis, inflammation, over-reactive immune system, mast cells, asthma, anxiety, stress, and depression written in bold.
These are the pieces of the puzzle that will provide the proof that my favorite cannabinoid can give you relief from the symptoms of your condition.
Let’s start putting the pieces together.
What the ECS has to do with allergies
The discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and the presence of cannabinoid receptors on immune cells have led scientific research to the investigation of its role in the function of the immune system.
Scientists consider them interrelated to such an extent that the term “ immuno-cannabinoid system” has appeared in scientific publications.
Allergies are linked to mast cell proliferation, over-activation, and degranulation (= release of chemicals like histamine).
Are you wondering who these guys are?
Mast cells are the “snipers” responsible for being on the lookout for invaders, attacking and annihilating them, and helping with the repair of the damages (inflamed tissue).
Mast cells are crucial for your health. When they proliferate and become over-responsive, it’s bad news for your health. (Imagine too many overactive active mast cells running around in your body screaming and releasing their histamine! Ok, they don’t scream, but it adds to the picture 🙂 )
Your ECS is designed to promote, maintain and restore homeostasis and your endocannabinoids N-arachidonoyl ethanolamine (Anandamide, AEA), 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) and N-palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) are tasked with putting mast cells in order.
According to a 2015 study
“PEA is a strong inhibitor of mast cell degranulation and activation.[…].The generally immunosuppressive role of classical eCBs (AEA and 2-AG) on the different immune cell populations is abundant compared with their congeners (PEA) and is reasonably equivalent in both mice and humans, making them “master regulators” of the innate-adaptive immune axis”
Cool! How about mast cell proliferation?
Your ECS takes care of it too.
“Normal skin MCs (mast cells) are tightly controlled by the endocannabinoid system. This limits excessive activation and maturation of MCs from resident progenitors via “tonic” CB1 stimulation by locally synthesized endocannabinoids. The excessive numbers and activation of MCs in allergic and other chronic inflammatory skin diseases may partially arise from resident intracutaneous MC progenitors, for example, because of insufficient CB1 stimulation. Therefore, CB1 stimulation is a promising strategy for the future management of allergy and MC-dependent skin diseases.”Sugawara K, Bíró T, Tsuruta D, Tóth BI, Kromminga A, Zákány N, Zimmer A, Funk W, Gibbs BF, Zimmer A, Paus R.
So, your ECS and its endocannabinoid troops are fundamental to healthy mast cell activation.
What if the ECS is deficient and its troops aren’t enough?
CBD to the rescue!!
CBD and allergies: what does science say?
First of all, let us see if cannabidiol can “feed” your ECS.
What I call a “hungry” ECS is simply an endocannabinoid system low in endocannabinoids.
CBD can fill the gaps because it supports the existence and the survival of Anandamide in your system.
A healthy ECS means healthy mast activation.
Now that we have seen the whole picture let’s study the details.
There is a whole article dedicated to cannabidiol and asthma for those of you who would like more information about the subject but I will give you a brief and quick takeaway here.
According to a study with the descriptive title “Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma”
“CBD treatment decreased the inflammatory and remodeling processes in the model of allergic asthma”Vuolo F, Abreu SC, Michels M, Xisto DG, Blanco NG, Hallak JE, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA, Reis C, Bahl M, Pizzichinni E, Maurici R, Pizzichinni MMM, Rocco PRM, Dal-Pizzol F.
Mucus Pathways ✔
Excessive mucus production is a characteristic of allergies. My claim can be verified by the tissues industry that sees their sales grow during spring when seasonal allergies explode.
Cytokines (especially the IL-13 cytokine) are to blame for mucus hypersecretion. A 2015 study has demonstrated that the IL-13 cytokine levels were significantly decreased by CBD administration.
CBD soothes skin, treats rashes and hives caused by allergies, alleviates itching, and above all decreases inflammation.
A 2018 study was the first demonstration of the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD in an Experimental Allergic Contact Dermatitis. The researchers found than CBD elevates the levels of AEA (Anandamide) and dose-dependently inhibits the release of chemical mediators in allergic contact dermatitis.
Histamine Release ✔
The most famous over-the-counter allergy medications are antihistamines.
CBD acts exactly like them without their side effects.
It controls histamine release by stopping the mast cell from releasing it.
That means reduced sneezing, less coughing, and fewer tears. I am sure the tissue industry will hate this.
There is more.
Acting as a bronchodilator, cannabidiol opens up the airways and increases the flow of air in your lungs.
It decreases nasal pressure by relieving sinus congestion and excessive mucus secretion.
Thanks to its analgesic properties, CBD acts as a painkiller.
It promotes mental and psychological balance by helping allergy sufferers treat their stress and anxiety and sleep better.
Traditional allergy treatments VS Cannabidiol
There is a variety of traditional medicines you can use to treat allergies. The two most famous over-the-counter types of medicines used to treat allergies are antihistamines and decongestants.
The first block histamine release in the body and the second shrink the blood vessels and tissues of your sinus to inhibit mucus production and treat inflammation.
They both treat the overlying symptoms and not the underlying condition.
And-surprise, surprise!- they cause a variety of side effects.
Antihistamines’ side effects:
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Dry mouth, nose, and/or throat
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Upset stomach
- Vision alterations
- Agitation, irritability and/or confusion
Decongestants’ side effects:
- Nervousness and/or agitation
- Inability to sleep
- Fast heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Seizures, anxiety, and tremors
- Burning and sneezing
Terrified by the side effects?
Antihistamine and decongestants users are advised not to drive or perform any activity that requires alertness when they are on the drugs. Furthermore, there is the risk of overdose and alcohol consumption while taking them is out of the question.
CBD oil is an alternative, well-tolerated, natural treatment with minor side effects and no risk for overdose.
My personal experience with cannabidiol gave me zero side effects. On the contrary, the “reduced appetite” side effect (a blessing for lots of people) that is attributed to CBD, was changed to “increased appetite” in my case.
I guess, as soon as my beloved cannabinoid entered my system, it realized I was underweight and rushed to fix the problem.
On the other hand, friends addicted to bingle eating noticed that their consumption of food -junk or not- was moderated due to the regulation of their appetite.
The “allergy to cannabis” issue
Being an allergy-free person, I never considered the possibility of being allergic to cannabis before introducing CBD to my body and life.
( I am not allergic to cannabis products. I am only allergic to a******s. Unfortunately, CBD can do nothing about it.)
But allergy sufferers are haunted by their condition and tend to be extremely careful with anything new to their life.
Cannabis is a pollinating plant and there is the risk that you are allergic to it.
Cannabis allergy might be more prevalent if you’re allergic to a substance with analogous protein properties. Cannabis cross-reacting foods are
If you are allergic to one of these foods, it’s possible that you are allergic to cannabis. A skin prick test and a consultation with your trusted physician and your allergy specialist are highly advisable in this case.
The “CBD drugs interactions” issue
Nearly 60 percent of the drugs are broken down through cytochrome P450, or CYP450. This set of liver enzymes are the same that metabolize CBD
In a previous article, I have explained that CBD is a potent inhibitor of these metabolizing enzymes.
CBD increases the serum concentrations of antihistamines. This means that the amount of the active ingredient of the antihistamine you are on will be higher in your blood if combined with cannabidiol.
The interactions depend on the dosage of both your prescribed medication and CBD, the timing of their consumption and the way you use CBD.
Before mixing CBD with your medicines, I urge you to consult your trusted physician. He will inform of you of the potential interactions and he might be able to modify the dosage of your drugs enabling you to combine it with the medications.
Summing it up
Once an allergic always an allergic.
The sad truth is that allergies are chronic conditions and you can only treat their symptoms.
The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to protect yourselves from whatever may trigger it.
When it comes to food or drink things are easy. You just don’t consume them. But things get complicated when you are allergic to environmental factors. It’s impossible to construct a glass bubble and live in it.
CBD oil seems to have a promising future as a potential aid to the treatment of the symptoms of allergies of all kinds, seasonal or chronic.
Now that you know that cannabidiol can relieve you from the symptoms of your allergies, you are wondering which brand you should trust.
When it comes to CBD and health, you should be careful to commit to a brand that is reliable, trustworthy and transparent.
Here follows a list of my personal brand choices.
Their sourcing, extraction methods, lab tests, client reviews, and my readers’ personal positive experiences prove their claims regarding the quality of their products.
If you have any questions or want to share any personal experience regarding CBD and allergies, please, leave a comment below.
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P.S. Thank you, Brian, for standing by my side. Your military expertise was precious to me. Theresa, keep asking questions. It’s an order!
DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided is not meant to cure any disease or disorder. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider for any medical condition.