Marijuana is more than just a recreational drug. It has amazing therapeutic effects that can help you deal with a variety of medical conditions including pain, anxiety, stress, seizures, digestive problems, and more. And just like other types of drugs, marijuana also has unpleasant effects. Some people even suffer from marijuana allergy.
What are Marijuana Allergies?
Marijuana allergies are symptoms of sensitivity to cannabis compounds. Just like any drug, cannabis also produces allergic reactions from people who are sensitive to its components. Cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBG including terpenes are just some of the most prominent components of weed. These may cause severe allergic reactions in some people.
Other people don’t consume marijuana but are allergic to the cannabis plant instead. A report from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology or AAAAI said that a person may have an allergy or an allergic sensitization to weed after he is exposed to the marijuana plant.
The most common way you can develop allergies is by inhaling cannabis pollen in the air. Also, you may start to cough or sneeze after you inhale cannabis smoke (when someone near is smoking weed). You can also develop marijuana allergies by touching the plant because pollen may cover the leaves and stems of the plant. Also, a person may develop allergies when eating marijuana.
There is also research that was released in 2013 that suggested that a strain of cannabis that’s called Cannabis sativa can cause severe irritation. There is also a small study that was published in 2018 that said people may suffer cannabis allergy if they have other allergies to other allergens like dust mites, molds, dander, and other kinds of plants.
Symptoms of Marijuana Allergy
Marijuana allergy symptoms are similar to symptoms in people suffering from seasonal allergies. Expect the following:
- Nasal congestion
- Dry, cracking cough
- Itchy, watery, red eyes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sneezing and a runny nose
- Sore, dry and itchy throat
You may also suffer from an allergic reaction similar to contact dermatitis. You can experience blisters, hives, itchiness, dry skin, and red or inflamed skin. Usually, symptoms of allergies to marijuana can happen immediately right after you touch the plant or you inhale the smoke from burning weed. However, some people experience symptoms after an hour or longer. If you notice these symptoms when you are near cannabis plants, when you touch the plant or when you consume weed, you should immediately stop consuming, smoking, or touching the plant.
There are cases, not too common cases of anaphylaxis when consuming cannabis. Anaphylaxis is a very severe allergic reaction to an allergen that can lead to life-threatening results. An anaphylactic shock may occur in just seconds or mere minutes of being exposed to the allergen, in this case, cannabis.
A person is suffering from anaphylactic shock when breathing, fainting, and dizziness are difficult. A person may also experience severe itchiness, low blood pressure, a swollen throat and tongue, and a weak or rapid pulse.
In some cases, anaphylaxis can result in coma or even death. A person who’s suffering from anaphylactic shock must receive medical attention right away.
What is Cross-reactivity?
Aside from marijuana allergy symptoms, you must also consider a condition known as cross-reactivity. This happens when proteins like pollen in the cannabis plant look similar to the proteins from other types of plants. You may suffer from an allergic reaction when you come in contact with these plants as well.
Take note of the foods that have proteins that resemble cannabis proteins: almonds, apples, chestnuts, bananas, grapefruit, eggplant, peaches, and tomatoes.
How is Marijuana Allergy Diagnosed?
The only way doctors can diagnose marijuana allergy is by using special skin or blood testing. In a skin test for cannabis allergy, you will be pricked with a needle that has diluted cannabis allergen. The allergen will be introduced to the skin in the intra-dermal layer. If you develop itching, redness, and irritation on the tested site, then you are positive for marijuana allergies.
Meanwhile, blood tests are done by taking a sample of your blood. The technician will check for any marijuana antibodies in the blood. If there are marijuana antibodies in your blood then you are allergic to cannabis. Blood tests are more preferred by doctors because it confirms the marijuana allergy. However, it can take days before the result of the test is available versus waiting only an hour for the result of a skin test.
What are the Treatments for Weed Allergies?
The only treatment for weed allergy is taking anti-allergy medications like diphenhydramine Hcl or Benadryl. People who seek emergency help for marijuana allergy are given Benadryl injections as soon as they arrive at the hospital.
For skin allergies or symptoms similar to contact dermatitis, a person may take an oral dose of Benadryl and just wait for a few minutes for the symptoms to subside. Placing ice packs or cold compresses on the affected area (as when a sensitive person touches the plant accidentally) may help as the cold can relieve inflammation and irritation.
How to Avoid Allergies When Taking Weed?
If you’re allergic to cannabis and even touching the plant will make you break into hives, avoid touching the plant. Carrying an inhaler and allergy medications should be considered as well.
Anyone who works with marijuana (in a marijuana plantation, manufacturing facility, or in a medical marijuana laboratory should wear safety equipment like face masks, gloves, and goggles.
And of course, the only way to avoid weed allergies is to completely stay off the weed. This is not just inhaled marijuana like smoking joints or vaping oils but also consuming cannabis edibles, taking tinctures, or using cannabis topical products.
Marijuana allergy can be mild or severe and symptoms may be easy to deal with or life-threatening. If you suspect that you suffer from allergies to weed, consult your doctor. Have you tested before you consume any recreational or medicinal cannabis? It’s better to be safe than to be sorry.