Cannabis, like many other substances - peanuts, pollen, seafood or even aspirin - can cause allergic reactions in some people. It has been irrefutably proven that cannabis is a cheap and readily available panacea and that it can be used successfully in the construction and recreational industries. However, it has also been discovered through scientific research that for some people, marijuana use can cause bothersome symptoms. Why does this happen?
What is an allergic reaction?
According to the Mosby Medical Dictionary, an allergic reaction occurs when an allergen (sensitizing agent) encounters an organism that does not have developed antibodies to the stimulus. An allergen is defined as a substance that is not necessarily harmful on its own, but can cause hypersensitivity in the body. When the body is exposed to an antigen the immune system initiates a complex series of reactions. Allergic reactions are unique to each individual, meaning that the timing and symptoms of the reaction can vary depending on individual experience. The production of antibodies is the responsibility of white blood cells, which, circulating in the bloodstream, can track down and destroy substances that cause disease or inflammation. In the case of allergy sufferers, this system works overzealously, and antibodies multiply even when they come into contact with completely harmless substances, such as pollen.
Some of these antibodies remain in the bloodstream permanently. The next time they come into contact with the "danger" they start their fight on the surface of other cells, which they damage. This leads to inflammation - an allergic reaction that manifests itself in various ways, such as a runny nose, sneezing, or a rash.
In the case of hemp, there are a number of factors that may cause an allergy. Commercial and industrial cultivation relies on male plants to pollinate female hemp plants, and staggering amounts of pollen are required to do so. Annual exposure to such a crop can build allergies in those who are prone to hypersensitivity and allergic reactions. Hemp as a plant can certainly cause biological reactions such as migraines, runny nose, sneezing, red eyes, itchy skin and swollen sinuses.
In 1940, 119 patients in Nebraska with allergic symptoms were tested for adverse reactions to hemp pollen. 22% of the study population turned out to be allergic, and even more disturbing results were published in 2000 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Researchers then found that 61% of 127 people tested positive for hemp pollen allergy.
Resin and oil
Pollen isn't the only thing that can trigger allergic reactions. Cannabis is a source of some very potent terpenes, or essential oils. They generally do not cause unpleasant symptoms even in sensitive people. However, improper manufacturing processes and overexposure to these concentrated substances can cause allergic reactions. People who are prone to catching various allergies should avoid direct contact of oil and resin with the skin, as they may close off the possibility of using this excellent healing substance.
The allergic reactions that occur most often in contact with marijuana are related to mold. This occurs when the plant is improperly dried and stored. Alarmingly, according to British researchers, nearly 1/6 of cannabis from home-grown, uncontrolled crops has traces of mold on it. Why is this important? Because mold is one of the strongest allergens and only a few types are safe for us. It's important to remember that overexposure to mold can even cause death! Fortunately, the molds that form on cannabis flowers are not lethal and do not cause liver or brain damage, but they can initiate an allergic reaction. Hives or a rash when touched, sneezing and swollen eyes - these are the symptoms that occur when mold spores are inhaled. People with hypersensitive immune systems may be at risk of developing aspergillosis when using fungus-infected marijuana. However, don't get paranoid and accuse every grower of negligence - if the marijuana was grown under sterile, controlled conditions, the chances of it being contaminated are extremely low.
Is it worth talking about?
Allergies have become the bane of our times. They appear regardless of age, place of residence or lifestyle. Allergens are present in practically everything that surrounds us - animal hair, pollen, food. Stressing that cannabis can also be allergenic seems unnecessary, and gives those who are negative to cannabis yet another reason to harass it. However, with cannabis research becoming more widespread and more modern, it is to be hoped that a strain can be developed that is completely allergen-free. Until this happens, remember to keep a close eye on your body and in case of an allergic reaction do not underestimate your condition but seek specialist help.