Oh jeez… what now? Allergies to cannabis on the rise?!
Please allow me to step in with a BIG BUT.
FACT: Mold and pollen are two of the biggest allergens on the planet. Both allergens can be associated with cannabis. Because of this the plant can cause a number of allergic symptoms such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), conjunctivitis (pink eye), skin rashes, itching, hives, swelling, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, itchy throat, nasal congestion and asthmatic symptoms when smoked, inhaled, ingested or chewed. Typically if you are allergic to the pollen in other plants – you may be allergic to the pollen producing hemp (male cannabis plants).
‘BIG BUT’ FACT: with your medical prescription you are able to access a Licensed Producer, or ‘LP’ (NHS only refers patients to LPs). Cannabis sold by Health Canada regulated LPs will be mold-free. Secondly, female plants used in medicine don’t produce pollen. (Hermaphrodite plants do exist but the plant is typically either male or female, or diecious.) So… That ugly list you read above will not apply in most cases.
Medical cannabis physician, Dr. Sean Darcy, from California, explains: “In terms of most of the patients who think they have an allergy to marijuana, we’ve found most of the time, it’s actually an allergy to mold. One out of one hundred [patients] might experience a reaction. Of those, 80 percent are due to mold,” he explained.
Dr. Darcy points out there is always a possibility of an allergic reaction from anything developing over time due to the body’s production of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that can mediate inflammatory reactions.
“Your body has to go through the whole process, it’s not instantaneous. It develops over long period of time.”
Another Californian doctor weighs in, “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were people allergic to cannabis, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they were allergic to something the plant had been treated with,” said Dr. William Eidelman of Cannabis Clinics in Los Angeles.
Cannabis as an allergen is more common amongst people who are exposed to the plant quite often, such as growers and trimmers. Those who have been approved by Health Canada to grow their own medicine are typically very aware of mold and potential allergy symptoms.
AND YET ANOTHER ‘BIG BUT’ FACT: We’ve often discussed how cannabinoids have been shown to help regulate our immune system, including swelling. German scientists are working with mice that have been altered to have their internal endocannabinoid systems shut down. The scientists found that where the de-regulated mice had been tagged with IDs, the skin was red and sensitive. Because the endocannabinoid system is known to regulate our immune system, the scientists supposed that the immune system had been compromised due to the tampering. They confirmed their suspicions by dabbing THC ointment on the skin of mice exposed to allergens. Professor Thomas Tuting, a member of the team, said: “If we dabbed THC solution on to the animals’ skin shortly before and after applying the allergen, a lot less swelling occurred than normal. The THC attaches itself to the cannabinoid receptors and activates them. In this way, the active substance reduces the allergic reaction.”
He said the amount of THC needed to treat skin allergies would be far too small to produce intoxicating effects.
Regulated Medical Cannabis for the win! ☺
written by Kait Shane, Natural Health Services
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