Maybe you’ve heard people around you say they don’t want to smoke or eat cannabis, because they are allergic to it. You’re not to blame if you found these claims hard to believe, because after all, this is a multi-purpose, organic treat with loads of medical benefits we’re talking about here. Yet as the world is opening up to legal weed consumption, doctors seem to get more reports of allergic reactions to pot. Time to find out once and for all then: does such a thing as weed allergy actually exist?
The Short Answer
The short answer is: yes, it‘s out there; people can in fact be allergic to cannabis. To find out how it can happen, and whether there’s any hope for a cure or other countermeasures, we’ll check a few basic facts on how allergies work first.
Self-defence For The Body
Allergies are not quite like a disease, where a harmful foreign agent like a virus or bacteria invades the body and starts causing damage by changing the processes in the cells. Actually, you could see allergies not as signs of illness, but of health, in a way. Allergic reactions show that your body is actively trying to work something out of your system. That makes allergies a type of self-defence for the body. The problem with allergies is that for some people, the body overreacts to a certain type of substance, which is usually harmless in itself. These substances trigger a response by the immune system that sparks off the release of inflammatory chemicals. These in turn cause the noticeable symptoms: rashes, sneezing, runny noses, and red eyes are common signs of allergic reactions. In extreme cases, allergic reactions can escalate to anaphylactic shock, which can even be lethal in very rare cases.
So Can Cannabis Plants Trigger Allergic Reactions?
Recent studies show that they may. Although some people discard allergy claims as part of a drive to spread scare stories about the effects of using cannabis, scientists found a potential cause: plant-lipid transfer proteins, or PLTPs. These PLTPs are proteins that naturally occur in parts of many different types of plants, including pollen and plant-based foods. When members of a test population were administered PLTPs in a hemp extract, about 80 percent of the weed-allergic test subjects reacted to Can S 3, a nonspecific PLTP that is found in weed. It’s not the active ingredients of cannabis like THC or CBD then, but an otherwise inactive part of the plant that may be ruining the smoking experiences of allergic people.
The Numbers Add Up
On a global scale, doctors are noticing an increase in the number of people indicating they have weed allergy. Part of this rise in weed allergy cases can be explained by simple mathematics. In a world where more countries and states are legalising cannabis sales almost every month, more people get the opportunity to try out some weed. Obviously, that will include some people with allergic reactions to cannabis-related substances too. Some of these allergies could also be part of a larger trend in which more people report being allergic to all sorts of allergens. As a species, we seem to be having more allergies than ever, so the numbers add up in this respect too.
It’s Not Just The Weed
The people suffering from allergy to cannabis are likely to be allergic to other plant-based materials as well. Because PLTP molecules are found in many other plants besides just cannabis, they run a serious risk of being allergic to all sports of vegetables, for instance. In earlier studies, such people have shown allergic reactions to tomatoes, for example, and to peach skins. Added together, these plants could even increase the chances of an allergic reaction. This indicates that if you are allergic to weed, you may well be allergic to a whole range of other plant-based substances. Viewed positively, this fining partially lifts the blame when it comes to cannabis – it’s not just the weed, so it seems.
In addition to PLTPs, however, terpenes could also play a part in some people’s weed allergies. As we’ve explored in other posts, terpenes are organic compounds found across the plant kingdom, responsible for the flavours and scents of our food, our flowers, and our smokes. Terpenes have medicinal properties too and can be used for various therapeutic purposes, but it turns out that they can produce allergic reactions in some people, too. So now we have two possible causes for allergic reactions to cannabis, both of which are also found in many other plants. Weed allergy seems possible, the. The next question is: can you do something about it?
Coping With Allergies
Bad news for anyone suffering from weed allergy: it seems that there is little the world of medicine and pharmaceutics can do to ease your trouble. Sure enough, there are some general solutions that you could also try to tackle hay fever pollen allergies. These include nasal sprays, or prescription medication such as antihistamine, which help counter the allergic response in your body. Chances are, though, that your doctor will not let you use these drugs to tackle any cannabis allergies you may experience. In the end, it seems likely that any medical expert you consult will advise you to treat your weed allergy by the most common anti-allergy practice known to medical science. This basic ‘cure’ is surprisingly effective for it’s low-tech nature, but it may not be what you were hoping for: the best way to deal with your weed allergy, according to doctors, is simply avoiding all cannabis altogether.