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HEALTH & WELLNESS SEPTEMBER 15, 2022

Hay Fever & Cannabis - Can It Help Me?

Seasonal allergies are annoying and bug about 18% of Australia’s population. That's about 5 million people or roughly 1 in 6 people. The reasons we suffer from hay fever yearly are usually way out of control of the average person, and over-the-counter quick fixes (aka antihistamines), only mask the real issue. 

Not relevant to you? Blessed with clear nasal passages all year-round? Bad news, if you don’t have hay fever now, you could still develop it later in life. 

 

Understanding Hay Fever and Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, are widespread, affecting millions of people around the world.

 

These allergies are triggered by allergens in the environment that are most commonly present during certain seasons.

 

They can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms and have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life.

 

Hay fever is an allergic response to specific allergens, most commonly airborne substances such as pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, but also mold spores. The term 'hay fever' can be a bit misleading as it does not involve a fever, and exposure to hay is just one of many potential triggers.

 

These allergies are often seasonal and can occur at times when certain plants release pollen into the atmosphere — a process known as pollination. This period varies for different plants and is also influenced by geographic location and weather conditions.

 

For instance, tree pollen is typically released in the spring, grass pollen in late spring and early summer, and weed pollen in late summer and fall.

 

man suffering from a hay fever

 

 Common Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of hay fever can vary from person to person but often include:

 

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Sneezing

  • Itchy or watery eyes

  • Itchy throat, ears, and roof of the mouth

  • Fatigue

  • Sore throat

  • Flu symptoms such as body aches and mild fever

  • Cold sores

 

It's worth noting that while these symptoms can be uncomfortable, hay fever itself is not a serious health risk. However, if left untreated, it can exacerbate other respiratory conditions such as asthma, and impact sleep and daily activities, leading to tiredness and poor concentration.

 

Other Allergic Reactions to Cannabis: Beyond Hay Fever

The versatility of cannabis as a recreational and medicinal substance has led to its consumption in various forms, including smoking, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. As its use becomes more widespread, it's crucial to understand the potential allergic reactions to these various forms of cannabis, which extend beyond the common hay fever.

Most people associate cannabis allergies with symptoms similar to pollen allergies, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing—classic hay fever signs.

 

However, allergic reactions to cannabis can vary and include symptoms more commonly associated with food or skin allergies, particularly in the context of edibles, tinctures, and topicals.

1. Edibles and Tinctures

When cannabis is ingested through edibles or tinctures, it can trigger food allergy-like symptoms in some individuals. Some may experience an itchy throat, inflammation of the mouth or throat, or even more severe reactions such as vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms mirror common food allergy reactions, making it challenging to identify a cannabis allergy without proper testing.


Cannabis edibles and tinctures may also contribute to the onset of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), a condition associated with chronic cannabis use. CHS can induce severe nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain—symptoms that might be misinterpreted as flu symptoms.

 

2. Topicals

Allergic reactions to cannabis can also manifest through skin contact, especially with cannabis-infused topicals. A rash from weed-infused topicals, for instance, could be a sign of allergic contact dermatitis.

 

Some people may experience itching, redness, or inflammation at the site where the product was applied. In extreme cases, individuals might break out in hives or develop cold sores.

 

3. Smoking

While smoking cannabis is a popular method of consumption, it's also a route that can cause allergic reactions. Symptoms can range from a sore throat and itchy eyes to more severe conditions such as an exacerbation of asthma or other respiratory issues.

 

It's also worth noting that 'weed fever', or a rise in body temperature, has been reported in some cases of cannabis use, although this needs further research.

 

4. Cannabis Allergy

Some individuals may have an allergy to cannabis itself, separate from the pollen. This can lead to an allergic response, which can manifest as hay fever symptoms when cannabis is used or handled.

 

5. Cannabis Consumption Method

The method of cannabis consumption can also impact hay fever symptoms. For example, vaping can reduce exposure to irritants found in cannabis smoke, while edibles eliminate respiratory exposure altogether, but could potentially introduce other allergen risks.

 

6. Impurities in Cannabis Products

Cannabis products, especially those from unregulated sources, can contain impurities such as mold, pesticides, or other contaminants. These impurities can trigger allergic reactions, leading to hay fever symptoms.

 

7. Individual Sensitivity

Each individual's sensitivity to allergens varies, so what causes hay fever in one person may not cause it in another. Genetics, overall health, and previous exposure to allergens can all influence a person's risk of developing hay fever from cannabis.

 

Understanding these various potential allergic reactions to cannabis is crucial, especially as more people turn to cannabis for medical and recreational use. If you suspect you're having an allergic reaction to cannabis, whether it's hay fever-like symptoms or other allergy symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional.

 

Remember, self-medication and diagnosis can be dangerous, especially when dealing with substances that impact your immune system.

 

It's also essential to keep in mind that the risk of allergic reactions can depend on the strain of cannabis, the method of consumption, and individual sensitivity. More research is needed to fully understand how these factors interact and impact the risk of developing allergic reactions to cannabis.

 

 

 

The Immune System's Role in Allergies

At the heart of hay fever and other allergic reactions is the immune system. Our immune system is designed to protect us from harmful invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and toxins.

 

In the case of allergies, the immune system mistakes harmless substances — in this case, pollen or mold spores — for a serious threat and overreacts.

 

This overreaction involves the release of a substance called histamine, which is responsible for many of the symptoms associated with allergies. Histamine causes inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages, along with increased mucus production and other symptoms such as sneezing and itching.

 

It's crucial to understand that while some people may have a robust immune response to these allergens, leading to severe allergy symptoms, others may have a mild reaction or none at all.

 

The severity of allergic reactions to pollen and other allergens can be influenced by a range of factors, including genetics, age, overall health, and exposure to allergens.

 

Understanding the mechanism of hay fever and seasonal allergies is the first step towards effective management and treatment. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it's recommended to consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and advice on managing your condition.

 

Fixing hay fever symptoms is hard. Unfortunately, your immune system is a tad bit pedantic, and when it reacts, the rest of the body can suffer in order to lock down that pathogen.

 

This causes inflammation - one of your body’s most commonly-used reactions to fight off yucky invasions - which for you, just feels awful.

 

man having a hay fever

 

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is just a feeling of swelling. It happens when you get a bruise too. That groggy, stuffy feeling in your head? It’s natural, actually. Your sinuses are blowing up like balloons, and there ain’t much you can do about it.

 

Hay fever is the result of a series of mediators, nerves, defensive cells and antibodies crowding the site of the issue to isolate it. Sometimes, they can get it wrong. But you should thank them regardless because they keep you alive. 

 

A common misconception among people is that hay fever and flu symptoms are a result of pathogens. This isn’t true. When a virus like that enters your body, it’s actually looking to kill you and make a new home.

 

And part of its plan is to replicate itself just like the rest of the animal kingdom, which is why flu is so contagious; it’s in the design.

 

Hay fever and antibodies

 

When you feel these symptoms coming on, that’s actually a sign that you’re body is fighting a virus via mucus and other bodily reactions. Part of this is inflammation, and it’s the opposite of what a virus wants.

 

As much as we need inflammation to be triggered for a flu or nasty virus (had a bit of that going round this year haven’t we), chronic inflammation from a muscle tear, hay fever or joint pain isn’t so helpful. The good news is, we can help tackle this with cannabis products, and here’s why.

 

Antihistamines vs CBD

When you feel these symptoms coming on, that’s actually a sign that you’re body is fighting a virus via mucus and other bodily reactions. Part of this is inflammation, and it’s the opposite of what a virus wants.

As much as we need inflammation to be triggered for the flu or nasty virus (had a bit of that going around this year haven’t we), chronic inflammation from a muscle tear, hay fever or joint pain isn’t so helpful. The good news is, that we can help tackle this with cannabis products, and here’s why.

 

Side Effects of Antihistamines include:

 

Side Effects of CBD include:

  • Dry mouth

  • Low blood pressure

  • Lightheadedness

  • Drowsiness

 

What About Using CBD & Antihistamines Together?

Women who have ever been on a contraceptive pill will be familiar with the ‘don’t go near grapefruit’ warning. Those of you that haven’t - welcome to the fascinating P-450 system. This is the system in your body responsible for breaking down toxins - aka helps you metabolise medications like antihistamines.

 

Natural compounds found in grapefruit, St John’s Wort & CBD alike, are known to inhibit the P-450 system, slowing down the metabolisation of medication and therefore making it more likely for you to experience the possible adverse side effects of that medication. 

 This means that Antihistamines and CBD are absolutely not the hot power couple of this allergy season. They don’t play nicely, so go for one or the other.

 

Cannabis Use: Precautions and Safety Tips

As the use of cannabis, both recreationally and medicinally, continues to rise, understanding how to use it safely becomes increasingly critical. This is especially true for individuals prone to allergies, including hay fever and those who might have a sensitivity to cannabis itself.

 

Here, we explore several precautions and safety tips for using cannabis.

 

  1. Consult a Healthcare Professional: Before using cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes, it is vital to consult with a healthcare professional. Medical practitioners can provide you with information about potential side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and how cannabis could interact with other medications you are taking. This is particularly crucial if you have a known allergy to weed or are experiencing symptoms such as a sore throat, rash, or body temperature increase after cannabis use.

  2. Start Slow and Low : If you are new to cannabis, start with a low dose and gradually increase it. This approach gives your body time to adjust and makes it easier to identify any adverse reactions you may have.

  3. Be Aware of the Consumption Method: The method of cannabis consumption can influence the type and severity of allergic reactions. For example, smoking can exacerbate respiratory issues, while edibles can cause food allergy-like symptoms. It's important to consider these factors when deciding on a consumption method.

  4. Use Quality Products: Ensure you are using high-quality cannabis products from reputable sources. Low-quality or contaminated products can have additives or contaminants that can trigger allergic reactions or other health issues.

  5. Listen to Your Body: If you suspect you're having an allergic reaction to cannabis, such as flu symptoms, cold sores, or a rash from weed, stop using it and seek medical advice. Don't ignore your body's signals.

  6. Cannabis Allergy Testing: If you suspect that you're allergic to cannabis, consider getting an allergy test. Accurate diagnosis can help you manage your symptoms and avoid potential triggers.

  7. Consider Potential Interactions with Other Allergies: If you have other allergies, especially seasonal allergies or hay fever, consider that cannabis may exacerbate your symptoms. Pollen from cannabis plants could potentially aggravate your hay fever.

  8. Watch Out for Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome: Chronic cannabis users should be aware of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, a condition characterized by severe bouts of vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

 

Using cannabis safely involves being mindful of your consumption method, paying attention to your body's responses, and seeking professional medical advice. While cannabis can offer many benefits, it's essential to remember that it can also trigger allergic reactions in some people.

 

Always prioritize your health and wellbeing, and remember that responsible use is key when it comes to cannabis.

 

Demystifying Cannabis Allergy Testing

Given the rising popularity of cannabis, it's more important than ever to have reliable and accurate methods for diagnosing cannabis allergies. This involves understanding the biological mechanisms behind such allergies, as well as the effectiveness of current tests and ongoing research.

 

Diagnosing Cannabis Allergies

Much like with other allergies, diagnosing a cannabis allergy usually begins with a thorough review of the patient's medical history and symptoms.

 

If a healthcare professional suspects a cannabis allergy, they may recommend further testing, including a skin prick test or a specific immunoglobulin E (sIgE) blood test.

 

Skin Prick Test: In a skin prick test, a small amount of cannabis extract is applied to the skin using a tiny needle. If the patient is allergic to cannabis, they will develop a small, raised bump at the test site within 15-20 minutes.

 

Skin prick tests are widely used in allergy testing and can be quite effective. However, the availability of cannabis extract for skin testing can be limited in some areas due to legal restrictions.


Specific (immunoglobulin E) IgE Blood Test: The sIgE blood test measures the amount of antibodies produced by the immune system in response to an allergen. While this test can help determine if a patient has a cannabis allergy, it may not be as sensitive as a skin prick test.

 

Moreover, there are currently no standardized sIgE tests for cannabis allergy, which can make it challenging to interpret the results.


Effectiveness of Current Tests and Research: Cannabis allergy testing is still a relatively new field. As a result, the effectiveness of current tests is something of a mixed bag. While skin prick tests and sIgE tests can provide useful information, they also have their limitations.

 

A study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2013 reported that out of 21 cannabis-exposed patients showing symptoms of allergy, 71% tested positive for cannabis allergy using skin prick tests.

 

This indicates a high prevalence among symptomatic individuals, but the sample size of the study is small, indicating the need for larger studies.

 

There's a growing interest in the scientific community to further explore cannabis allergies. Researchers are working on developing more accurate and standardized tests for diagnosing cannabis allergies.

 

Recent advances in the field suggest that certain proteins, such as Can s 3 and Can s 4 found in cannabis, may be key allergens. Research is also being conducted to develop component-resolved diagnostics, which could help identify these specific proteins and improve testing accuracy.

 

While we have some tools available to diagnose cannabis allergies, there is still a lot of work to be done. The effectiveness of the current tests can vary, and the interpretation of results can be challenging due to the lack of standardization.

 

As research in this field continues, we can hope for more precise and reliable testing methods to be developed in the future.

 

Accessing Cannabis in Australia

You’ll need medical clearance and a doctor with an open mind. Fortunately, these days it’s easier to do that than before. However, if you manage to get your hands on cannabis flowers, it's pretty easy to make cannabutter to be put in edibles. 

 

Check your eligibility for medical CBD.

 

Buying CBD online can be dangerous, solely because heaps of companies aren’t thoroughly vetted. Cheap, artificial CBD is a no-no. Products with nasty additives are actually more likely to get you sick than help at all. You want that natural stuff. 

 

So chat with your doctor, and see where it leads. Or, if you need help selecting a doctor, please give our friendly team a call! 

 

CBD oil in Australia

 

Looking for powerful pain relief? Check out legal, Australian-made, effective Transdermal Hemp Patches:

 

“These patches have been great pain relief for my fibromyalgia. Highly recommended to anyone suffering chronic pain.” - Michelle

 

Discover the Right Cannabis Product for You

Navigating the world of cannabis can be complex, but we're here to make it easier for you. Our diverse range of high-quality cannabis products caters to a variety of needs and preferences.

 

Whether you're seeking relief from certain symptoms, looking to enhance your wellness routine, or simply curious about the potential benefits of cannabis, our carefully curated selection is designed to provide you with the best possible experience.

 

We encourage you to explore our offerings, learn more about the specific properties of each product, and make an informed choice that aligns with your needs and lifestyle.

 

Please remember, cannabis can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, including hay fever. If you have a known allergy or suspect you might be allergic to cannabis, please consult with a healthcare professional before using our products.

 

To discover the range of our cannabis products, click here. Your journey to understanding and exploring cannabis starts with us.

FAQs

How do you treat cannabis pollen?

Cannabis pollen is treated similarly to other types of pollen that can trigger allergies. Over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, and eye drops can help alleviate symptoms. If you're handling cannabis plants and are allergic to the pollen, consider using personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, to limit exposure. However, the most effective way to avoid an allergic reaction to cannabis pollen is to limit exposure to the plant, especially male plants, which produce the pollen.

Does cannabis oil help with allergies?

Research into the effects of cannabis oil on allergies is still in its early stages. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it might help due to its anti-inflammatory properties, potentially reducing the symptoms of allergic reactions. However, more research is needed to fully understand the benefits and risks. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment regimen.

What helps hay fever fast?

Over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, and eye drops can quickly relieve hay fever symptoms. Avoiding exposure to allergens by staying indoors, closing windows, and wearing sunglasses outdoors can also help. If symptoms are severe or persist despite these measures, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for further advice.

What triggers hay fever?

Hay fever is triggered by an allergic reaction to airborne substances, especially pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds, as well as mold spores. Factors such as the time of year, geographic location, and weather conditions can also affect the presence and concentration of these allergens.

What is the strongest natural antihistamine?

Several natural substances are said to have antihistamine properties, including flavonoids like quercetin, which is found in many fruits, vegetables, and grains. Bromelain, found in pineapples, is another natural anti-inflammatory that may help with allergies. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment regimen.

Why is my hayfever so extreme?

The severity of hay fever symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. Factors such as genetic predisposition, overall health status, age, and exposure levels to allergens can all play a role in the severity of symptoms. Additionally, if hay fever is left untreated or not managed properly, symptoms can become more severe over time. It's recommended to consult a healthcare professional if your hay fever symptoms are severe or don't improve with over-the-counter treatments.

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