Why Do I Have An Allergic Response to CBD?
We've come at this from a few different angles with deep dives into how CBD affects histamine and mast cells.
Let's avoid the technical and just address the simple question.
Why do some people have allergic reactions to CBD?
We get this question often and it's usually coupled with frustration that the person can't get the benefits from CBD.
We've seen a range of reactions to many brands of CBD...some of the biggest brands.
- Upset stomach
- Clicking in the back of the throat
- Skin reactions including hives
- Sneezing, couching, congestion
- Burning in the back of the throat (this one is actually interesting...more on that below)
The full gamut of allergic reactions.
Here's the rub...CBD in research is actually shown to calm allergic response!
What's going on? We'll cover why some people have allergic reactions to CBD.
The more appropriate statement is why people have allergic reactions to SOME CBD!
Here are the topics we'll cover:
- A quick intro to CBD and the pathway of allergies
- The type of CBD and allergic reactions
- THC and allergic reactions
- Age and allergic reactions to CBD
- Why CBD might make the back of your throat burn occasionally
- Why women get hit hard by allergies (including CBD)
- Why the purity of CBD is so important for allergies
- What's the best CBD to avoid allergic reactions
Let's get started. Before the sneezing fits start!
A quick intro to CBD and the pathway of allergies
First, what does research show for CBD and allergic reactions?
Histamine is the chemical that creates the allergic reaction.
This whole pathway is part of the immune system tasked with getting foreign things out of our bodies...FAST!
There are all kinds of triggers in the natural world that become important for our type of CBD.
In fact, many of the chemicals that occur naturally in our food are built-in pesticides to protect plants.
They can cause histamine responses in our body as well!
The issue is when our histamine response becomes hyperactive to pretty common substances like ragweed and pet dander.
There are tons of studies where CBD calms this response.
For a more extreme example close to our allergic hearts:
CBD treatment decreased the inflammatory and remodeling processes in the model of allergic asthma.
What about skin rashes, hives, and itching:
Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma
We did a whole review on CBD and psoriasis which is an autoimmune extension of this.
Let's turn to the gut with its own complex immune response.
We did a massive review of CBD and gut inflammation as well as CBD and leaky gut.
Interestingly, we have seen diarrhea to even CBD isolate in the beginning as the gut microbiome responds.
This likely reflects gut imbalances in the microbiome (our gut bacteria mix) which are adjusting.
All the new research is pointing to just how powerful our gut microbiome is for general health across the body and brain.
If the gut make-up is out of balance, a positive effect (from CBD, berberine, or oregano oil) will cause a temporary flux.
We see this with people who email us after which, it goes away.
Interestingly, the core issue they originally tried CBD for (anxiety, depression, sleep, etc) had immediate positive effects.
Check out CBD and probiotics for anxiety to understand why our microbiome is so important.
This is true across the range of mental health issues (see CBD and mental health).
Now, there's a big difference between temporary shifts in our gut and a product that's actually causing histamine response.
Let's go there now (maybe the most important piece).
The type of CBD and allergic reactions
There are two main types of CBD:
- Full or broad-spectrum CBD
- CBD isolate
CBD isolate is just CBD by itself usually with a base oil.
Full-spectrum is generally hemp oil with CBD added to it (if not bogus product).
This means there is a lot of plant material in the oil and that's a huge deal for allergic reactions.
In fact, if you read through the reviews, a large number of people say that allergic responses go away with CBD isolate.
In fact, that's how we found isolate to begin with after trying 3-4 of the biggest brands and having allergic reactions to them.
Regardless of the CBD levels!
Full-spectrum can have a very different side effect profile depending on histamine response.
We went deeper into this at our CBD full spectrum versus CBD isolate.
There's a big marketing push (with almost no research) for full-spectrum since it's much easier (and cheaper) to process.
We looked at the terpenes and flavonoids as well as the other cannabinoids in the review above.
You're better off just taking olive oil and saving 90% of the cost!
Plus there's lots of research on CBD isolate by itself to calm allergic reactions.
The net-net is this:
40-60% of the population has histamine issues.
This number goes up as we get older and for women (we'll explain why below - very important).
Let's turn our attention to another difference between types of CBD….THC.
THC and allergic reactions
We covered the myth of "You need THC to activate CBD" in-depth here.
The so-called "entourage effect" was actually coined by the Godfather of CBD research to describe how CBD countered many of the negative effects of THC.
We go into these pathways in detail at our CBD versus THC here.
As for allergic reactions, here's the key:
Roughly 75% of people with histamine issues are allergic to THC!
Based on our 40-60% of the total population above, that about 30-40% of the general population has allergic reactions to THC.
If you have bad responses to cannabis, this may be a big clue.
Legal CBD is allowed to have up to .3% of THC and still be called industrial hemp.
We're not anti-pot but THC normalizes over longer periods of time.
The body builds a tolerance to it and actually starts to downregulate the main pathway it works in (called CB1).
CBD does not have this same effect since it works like a feedback mechanism in our endocannabinoid system.
Most importantly, if you're having an allergic reaction to a CBD product, this may be part of it.
Yes, .3% is a small amount but it's enough overtime to make you fail a drug test so it's not zero!
Let's turn our attention to who is usually reporting allergic responses to CBD.
We'll start with age and lead into gender.
Age and allergic reactions to CBD
It's true for both genders that systemic inflammation increases as we get older.
Check out our full review of CBD and longevity here to learn why.
A part of this is due to a reduction and mismanagement of our immune response of which histamine, our allergic response, is part of.
Moreover older age and male sex were associated with a higher response to histamine, also when separately considering allergic subjects
This was based on a skin prick with a known histamine triggering chemical.
Then there's the reduction in nutrients which are key to keeping our immune function balanced:
Moreover, micronutrients with important immunoregulatory roles, such as iron, zinc, and vitamin D, are often deficient in the elderly
Vitamin D is so important that we did a full break-out here. It might be the biggest thing you can do for your health right now!
Make sure to test levels but read the article as there's a great misconception on healthy levels.
The bigger factor though for allergic reactions is gender.
Let's go there now.
Why women get hit hard by allergies (including CBD)
Here's the deal as we found out the hard way (founder's perimenopause story is here).
Progesterone has been dually tasked by mother nature to govern immune system response.
In fact, the heart of this role is to make sure the immune system doesn't attack the amniotic sac during pregnancy since it's actually produced from the male's genes.
It's foreign! The body wants to get it out!
So...progesterone ramps up levels (if everything's working correctly) to calm the immune response...call off the guards.
Here's the problem outside of pregnancy.
Progesterone drops by 50% at age 40 and keeps dropping all through your 40's.
The net result of this immune response balancer is an increase risk for the following:
- Allergic reactions
- Autoimmune diseases
- Mental health issues (progesterone directly drives GABA, the target for benzos (see CBD versus benzos); estrogen directly drives serotonin, the target for SSRIs.
Sleep disturbances - GABA!! Target for sleeping aids
A host of issues crop up which you can find on our CBD and perimenopause master page.
Progesterone is the big one for immune response and allergic reactions.
Many women will find that they suddenly can't eat the same foods, wear the same cosmetics, etc without having allergic reactions.
We covered this in our CBD and histamines for women review.
Interestingly, the very demographic can most benefit from CBD due to anxiety, sleep, pain, etc changes from this drop in hormones end up having allergic reactions to full spectrum!
It's frustrating really once you understand the research.
Again, this histamine issue is the main reason we focus on CBD isolate.
Before we get into the other reason some people have allergic reactions to CBD, a quick and strange pitstop.
Why CBD might make the back of your throat burn occasionally
We noticed something peculiar and it's been confirmed by many people who contact us.
Sometimes, especially when newly starting to use CBD, there can be a burning in the back of the throat.
Right behind the tonsils.
At first, this can be scary until you understand what's going on.
There's a huge immune system complex...a station if you will...right behind the tonsils.
This makes sense as a border guard for anything passing beyond the mouth into the gut.
It's very common to have low-lingering infections here which is why people have tonsils removed.
Newer research is actually pointing to systemic infection in this area and autoimmune risk such as psoriasis (see CBD and psoriasis).
The burn from CBD actually reflects a low-level infection in that area as CBD is both anti-bacterial and anti-microbial.
We use CBD isolate daily and about 2-3 times a month, we'll see that burn especially if we're feeling the onset of a sore throat.
It's fascinating! This is actually a good effect that goes away with use as the infection itself calms down.
More importantly, it speaks to system inflammation and autoimmune throughout the body.
Remember...we have healthy bacteria mixes in the gut, mouth, urinary and genital tracts.
When they break down or get out of balance, it can trigger issues throughout the body.
Let's talk about the other reason some people have allergic reactions to CBD.
Why the purity of CBD is so important for allergies
There's so much bad CBD product on the market.
Anyone and everyone rushed into the market with the aim of capitalizing on the buzz of CBD.
You can't find quality CBD on amazon. They literally don't allow it so don't buy things there that you put into your body. We covered CBD on Amazon here.
A company needs to be 3rd party tested and make their results available easily online.
We test our oils twice with the following requirements:
- Organically grown in the US at an FDA registered farm
- CO2 processed - cleanest option
- No THC - roughly 30% of people are allergic to THC
- No heavy metals
- No solvents
- No pesticides
- No bacteria
- No mold
Interestingly, any of these will set off massive allergic reactions and for good reason...the body wants to get them OUT!
Organic is important since pesticides not only trigger allergic reactions but mess up the gut microbiome to cause a host of issues.
Again, since we take our CBD daily, we test it twice from the two of the biggest US labs available.
As for many fly by night brands on the market (about 90% of what's out there), who knows what is actually in the bottle.
A study by Consumer Lab showed that most bottles didn't have close to the levels of CBD advertised.
Verified levels of CBD should also be on 3rd party testing.
Just a head's up...hemp oil is just glorified olive oil. The amount of CBD is so (about 8mg per dropper for 1 ounce bottle) that it's a rip-off.
Studies are showing 160 mg for sleep and up to 300 mg for neurogenesis which is the key to mental health, addiction, and more.
Learn more about CBD and brain repair here.
What's the best CBD to avoid allergic reactions
It's actually simple.
Try CBD isolate and see if your allergic reaction goes away.
If you read our reviews, that's the basic response and in fact, CBD isolate can help with allergic reactions in general.
In fact, all the research is on CBD isolate.
Full-spectrum is just great marketing till we see research to the contrary and with the allergic response to all that plant material, it's not a good fit for roughly half the population.
Don't take our word for it...try our first30 discount code to test the 1000 mg bottle versus any full spectrum out there if you have allergic reactions.
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.