Can CBD reduce allergy symptoms?

On the occasion of World Allergy Day, we bring you this post about CBD and allergies to know everything that is currently being researched about it.

Allergies are very common today. Whether seasonal, food, skin or otherwise, allergies have a significant impact on a person’s well-being. Cannabidiol (CBD) the non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid par excellence, has gained popularity due to its potential health benefits. While some studies suggest that CBD has potential effects on the immune system, it may benefit allergies by fighting inflammation.

CBD and Allergies: Relationship between allergies and the endocannabinoid system.

What is an allergy?

Allergies are an exacerbated reaction of the immune system to generally harmless substances, which are known as allergens. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, some foods, pet dander, insect bites and medications.

The immune system in allergies

When a person with allergy is exposed to an allergen, the immune system overreacts and begins to release antibodies such as immunoglobulin E (IgE), which triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals.

Histamine is responsible for generating symptoms such as itching, sneezing and watery eyes. This is the reason why the main and immediate therapy for an allergic response is antihistamines.

Endocannabinoid system and immune system

The endocannabinoid system of our body consists of enzymes, endogenous cannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors, among which the CB1 and CB2 receptors are the most important.

Cannabinoid receptors, particularly CB2 receptors, are widely distributed in immune cells.

Effects of CBD on the immune system and allergy symptoms

CBD is the main non-psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, known for its therapeutic value. It derives its interest from its various properties, such as analgesic, antipsychotic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (1).

This cannabinoid is able to interact with CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. However, a significant part of the biological effects of CBD occur without the involvement of CB1 or CB2 receptors (2), as CBD can bind to other types of receptors found on immune cells.

CBD modulates the immune response by either increasing or decreasing it. The latter is called immunosuppression, and is a predominant property of CBD.

CBD-induced immunosuppression occurs by directly suppressing the activation of different types of immune cells, promoting cell death (apoptosis) and facilitating the generation of immune regulatory cells. These regulatory cells then help regulate other immune cell targets, which contributes to the overall immune modulating effects of CBD (3).

The immunosuppressive capacity of CBD has been shown to be useful for autoimmune diseases (4, 5), but it has not yet been proven to be effective for allergies.

It should be noted that the immunosuppressive effect of CBD occurs only in conditions where there is disease, since CBD can block the activation of immune mechanisms that occur in response to a stimulus; that is, CBD does not decrease the immunity of a healthy person.

On the other hand, CBD can stimulate the immune system, although to a lesser extent. These opposing effects are the reason why CBD is under investigation, as the reasons that trigger modulation are not yet fully understood.

How can CBD help with allergy symptoms?

The actual effectiveness of CBD in treating allergy symptoms is unknown because research is lacking. Theoretically, current data suggest that CBD may alleviate allergies in an indirect way, as it may reduce the inflammatory response resulting from allergy.

Perhaps future research will point to other mechanisms by which CBD might act. But according to current scientific research, the potential benefits of CBD for allergies are limited to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Current studies on CBD for allergy

To date, scientific studies on CBD and allergies are very scarce. There is one publication that reported positive effects when CBD was used for allergic airway inflammation in a rodent model (6). It has also been suggested that CBD may be beneficial for allergic dermatitis due to its anti-inflammatory action in skin conditions (7).

The potential of cannabis terpenes for allergies

Other components of cannabis that are of interest in allergies could be the following terpenes . Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in plants such as cannabis and are responsible for their aromas and some therapeutic properties. Some terpenes such as limonene, myrcene, pinene and linalool, which can be found in various strains of the cannabis plant, have the ability to produce an anti-inflammatory effect (8).

Based on this, theoretically, a full-spectrum CBD would generate better results, as terpenes also have an anti-inflammatory action. It may even be that the relief of inflammation is enhanced, due to the entourage effect, which, although not proven for allergies, is a premise that has been validated for other conditions.

While some people claim that aromatherapy can provide allergy relief, it is important to keep in mind that scientific research in this area is insufficient and the evidence is not conclusive.

Considerations and precautions when using CBD for allergies

How to use CBD oil to treat allergies?

Overall, more research is needed to establish the efficacy of CBD for allergy symptoms. Consultation with a medical professional is recommended for personalized advice and treatment options to control allergies.

For use in dermatitis, it appears that applications of CBD cream, ointment or oil four times daily (9), or enough to maintain a steady release of CBD into the skin, is recommended.

The use of CBD for allergy should be evaluated with caution to avoid drug interactions. Since antihistamines commonly used to treat allergies are metabolized by the same liver enzymes as CBD, the combination of CBD with antihistamines could produce adverse effects.

In addition, it should be taken into consideration that the necessary dose of CBD tends to be highly variable and there is no defined dose of CBD to treat allergy or to treat inflammation.

We hope you found this post on current CBD and allergy research useful. We remind you that this article is informative and is not intended to prevent, treat or diagnose any disease. Cannactiva products are not medicines. Consult a health care professional if you have allergy concerns and before using CBD.

  1. Pisanti, S., Malfitano, A. M., Ciaglia, E., Lamberti, A., Ranieri, R., Cuomo, G., Abate, M., Faggiana, G., Proto, M. C., Fiore, D., Laezza, C., & Bifulco, M. (2017). Cannabidiol: State of the art and new challenges for therapeutic applications. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 175, 133-150.
  2. Giorgi V, Marotto D, Batticciotto A, Atzeni F, Bongiovanni S, Sarzi-Puttini P. Cannabis and Autoimmunity: Possible Mechanisms of Action. Immunotargets Ther. 2021 Jul 21;10:261-271.
  3. Nichols, J. M., & Kaplan, B. L. F. (2020). Immune Responses Regulated by Cannabidiol. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 5(1), 12-31.
  4. Jones, É., & Vlachou, S. (2020). A Critical Review of the Role of the Cannabinoid Compounds Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) and their Combination in Multiple Sclerosis Treatment. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(21), 4930.
  5. Mathur, K., Vuppalanchi, V., Gelow, K., Vuppalanchi, R., & Lammert, C. (2020). Cannabidiol (CBD) Consumption and Perceived Impact on Extrahepatic Symptoms in Patients with Autoimmune Hepatitis. Digestive diseases and sciences, 65(1), 322-328.
  6. Vuolo, F., Abreu, S. C., Michels, M., Xisto, D. G., Blanco, N. G., Hallak, J. E., Zuardi, A. W., Crippa, J. A., Reis, C., Bahl, M., Pizzichinni, E., Maurici, R., Pizzichinni, M. M. M. M., Rocco, P. R. M., & Dal-Pizzol, F. (2019). Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma. European journal of pharmacology, 843, 251-259.
  7. Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 13, 927-942.
  8. Del Prado-Audelo, M. L., Cortés, H., Caballero-Florán, I. H., González-Torres, M., Escutia-Guadarrama, L., Bernal-Chávez, S. A., Giraldo-Gomez, D. M., Magaña, J. J., & Leyva-Gómez, G. (2021). Therapeutic Applications of Terpenes on Inflammatory Diseases. Frontiers in pharmacology, 12, 704197.
  9. Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y. (2020). The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 21(5), 390-402.

Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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