Cannabis & Allergy Relief
Is cannabis going to be the next best way to keep allergy symptoms at bay? Several properties of cannabis may be beneficial in relieving allergy symptoms, but don’t toss your Benadryl and Flonase yet, experts say.
Like other medicinal benefits of cannabis, there is not enough research on using cannabis as a form of allergy relief to know exactly how effective it would be in practice. However, early research shows promise that a cannabis-based allergy treatment may be an effective alternative to over-the-counter allergy medications.
Most evidence surrounding cannabis and allergy relief is anecdotal. Still, some scientific reasoning behind why cannabis consumers find that it helps them stop sniffles and itching in their tracks. One reason for this is that cannabis weakens the level of histamine released in your body. Histamine is an organic compound that triggers our immune responses and is involved in the inflammatory response – reducing this makes a considerable difference in allergy symptoms.
The release of histamine is an immune response triggered by antibodies. When released, histamine starts to do whatever it can to throw off the allergen – you may begin to itch, sneeze, cough, or tear up! Some bodily functions increase antibody responses and may unnecessarily trigger the release of histamine. When a type of white blood cell called T-cells is activated, the body increases its antibody response, increasing histamine levels. A study completed in 2009 found that cannabinoids were able to inhibit T-cells’ activation, slowing antibody response and preventing high histamine levels.
The Benefits of Terpenes
Cannabinoids may not be the only compound in cannabis that contributes to allergy relief. A 2014 study performed on mice found that alpha-pinene significantly reduced an important antibody’s level connected to histamine release. Alpha-pinene is a common terpene found in cannabis and may contribute to cannabis consumers’ experience of allergy relief.
More extensive research into the effects of cannabis in allergy sufferers must be done before considering cannabis as an allergy medication as effective as traditional over-the-counter allergy treatments. Experts are torn about the potential for cannabis to provide allergy relief, especially in the forms in which it is currently available. For cannabis to effectively treat allergies, a more concentrated and targeted treatment will probably need to be developed.
Until then, you may be interested in trying cannabis as a form of allergy relief. Remember that not all strains are equal (and neither are all cannabis consumers!), so you may have a different experience from other allergy sufferers using cannabis. But the only way to know how you will react to a specific cannabis product is to try it out yourself, starting cautiously with a low dose and seeing how your symptoms are affected.