Can Someone Be Allergic To CBD? There’s a lump in your throat, but it’s not because you’re sad. Lots of health issues can make your throat feel tight. Find out what they are and what you can do. Some people believe CBD oil is safe and well-tolerated. Read about the side effects you can expect and what to be aware of.
Can Someone Be Allergic To CBD?
Is It Possible To Have An Allergy To CBD?
With CBD oils and products becoming more popular and relevant, there have been more cases of people showing adverse symptoms to CBD. Some of these symptoms are considered side effects or sensitivity to CBD, while other symptoms are allergic reactions to CBD.
An allergic reaction can occur from any product the body sees as an allergen. The most common allergies occur from foods, medications, insect stings, pollen, and pet dander. Since CBD is derived from the cannabis plant called hemp, CBD contains properties like pollen and histamine that can cause allergic reactions. Although allergies to CBD are rare, it is possible for people to be allergic to CBD. CBD has also been known to help with allergies due to the antihistamine and anti-allergenic properties.
An allergic reaction to CBD oil can range from an itchy nose to breathing problems. It is important to stop using CBD at the first sign of any negative side effects from CBD. To understand the difference between being allergic to CBD or exhibiting side effects from CBD, it is important to understand the different symptoms of both.
What happens if I’m allergic to CBD?
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, someone with allergies to CBD can exhibit symptoms after inhaling, touching, smoking, or consuming any products containing CBD. An allergic reaction happens when the body’s immune system overreacts to a substance that the body sees as a threat. To protect the body, the immune system will produce antibodies called Immunoglobulin E, which cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction. These reactions vary depending on the person’s immune system and the number of Immunoglobulin E their body releases. An allergic reaction does not always occur on the first exposure to the allergen and allergies can change over time.
Since CBD is extracted from hemp plants, most allergic reactions to CBD are similar to seasonal allergies or allergies to pollen and fungi. These symptoms should go away if you stop using CBD.
Tightness in the Throat: Causes and Treatments
Does your throat feel tight or like you can’t swallow your food?
Many things can cause this. Not all are serious. Let your doctor know right away if the tightness doesn’t go away or if you have any other symptoms with it.
Symptoms of Tightness in Throat
Depending on what’s causing the tightness in your throat, it might feel like:
Your throat is sore or burns.
Your throat is swollen or closed up.
You find it hard to swallow.
You have a lump in your throat.
You need to swallow often.
Causes and Treatments of Tightness in Throat
Heartburn or GERD
Heartburn is a common problem that may cause tightness in your throat. Your throat can feel sore or burn. You might find it hard to swallow. It can last anywhere from minutes to hours.
This condition happens when stomach acid rises in your esophagus and creeps into your throat. If this happens often, it may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD.
You can get heartburn after you eat a big meal or if you lie down right after eating. Some foods and drinks can trigger it. This includes tomatoes, spicy or fatty foods, alcohol, or foods with lots of acid, like citrus. Stress, smoking, and obesity make it more likely that you’ll get it.
If heartburn causes your throat tightness, you might also have these symptoms:
Pain or burning in your chest after meals, when you lie down, or when you bend over
Bitter, sour, or salty taste in your mouth
A feeling like food is stuck in your throat or chest
To keep it from happening, avoid trigger foods. Stop eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed. It may help to raise the head of your bed 6 inches to keep stomach acid where it belongs while you sleep.
When it does strike, you can try OTC (over-the-counter) antacids.
For intense attacks or if it happens often, see your doctor. You may need prescription medication. For example, H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can help slow down your body’s production of stomach acid, while prokinetics and antibiotics speed up digestion to help your stomach get rid of waste after eating. Be sure to ask your doctor about the possible side effects of these medicines, including nausea, diarrhea, and a loss of bone density.
In some serious cases, your doctor might recommend surgery.
Anaphylaxis is a fast, strong allergic reaction to something — often a food, drug, or insect sting. It can cause your throat to tighten up suddenly. You may feel like it’s very hard to swallow. It can happen minutes or hours after your exposure.
If an allergic reaction is the cause of your throat tightness, you might have some of these other symptoms:
Itchy mouth, eyes, or throat
If you notice any of these signs, call 911 right away.
Your doctor may prescribe an epinephrine self-injection pen to keep on hand if you know you have any allergies that could cause anaphylaxis. Remember that you’ll still need to call 911 right away after you use it. The medicine can wear off, or you could have a second reaction.
If you still have your tonsils, you can get tonsillitis. That’s when tonsils become inflamed because of an infection from viruses or bacteria.
Tonsillitis makes your tonsils swell and hurt. Your throat feels very sore. You may find it hard to swallow. Lymph nodes in your throat and neck can swell up too.
If tonsillitis is the cause of your tight throat, you may also have these symptoms:
White or yellowish patches on the back of your throat
If it’s caused by a viral infection, treat it with rest, warm liquids, throat lozenges, and gargles with saltwater to ease throat pain and tightness. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may ease fever and pain.
If a bacterial infection is the cause, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics.
If it happens often or makes it hard for you to breathe, swallow food, or sleep, you may need surgery to remove your tonsils.
A goiter is when your thyroid swells. This is a big, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your throat. It makes hormones that keep your metabolism in balance. When it gets bigger, it can make your throat feel tight and closed up.
A goiter can happen if you don’t get enough iodine in your diet. This mineral is an important part of your thyroid’s hormone production.
Most people get enough iodine because it’s added to most table salt. It’s also found in seafood, seaweed, dairy products like yogurt or milk, and grains.
If a goiter is the cause of your throat tightness, you may also have these symptoms:
Lump in your neck that you can feel or see under the skin
Hoarse, scratchy voice
If you think you may have a goiter, see your doctor. Your doctor can feel your throat for any lumps and run tests to find the cause, such as:
Blood test to measure your thyroid hormone levels or spot any antibodies that suggest thyroid disease
Ultrasound or scan of your thyroid
Thyroid biopsy to draw out a fluid sample that’s sent to a lab for testing
Treatment of a goiter depends on the cause. If your case is mild and only causes a little swelling, you may just need to watch it.
To get enough iodine, use iodized table salt and eat fresh fish or shellfish, or seaweed foods like sushi. Cut back on iodine if your doctor says you get too much.
Medications can either raise or lower your thyroid hormone levels to get them back to normal. This can reduce the swelling.
If you have a very large goiter that makes it hard to breathe or swallow food, you can have surgery to remove part or all of your thyroid. Thyroid cancer is also treated with surgery.
Some research shows that anxiety can be linked to feelings of tightness in your throat. For example, globus is the medical term for the feeling of a lump in your throat. People who have this almost always say it’s worse when they’re stressed or anxious. This is at least in part because stress triggers muscle tension.
Another condition related to tightness in your throat is dysphagia, which is when you have a hard time swallowing or feel like something is stuck in your throat. In one study, doctors were able to predict how severe participants’ dysphagia was based more on whether they said they had anxiety than on the standard physical exam and tests.
Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD)
This is when your voice gets strained because you’re having to put more pressure or effort into speaking because of an issue affecting your voice. It can make the muscles in your neck feel tense or tight when you talk. It also can make you sound gravely, hoarse, or raspy and make it hard or painful to speak.
It can be caused by several things, including:
A reaction to an upper respiratory infection
Stomach acid working its way up to the throat (laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR)
7 CBD Oil Side Effects You Should Watch Out For
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CBD oil is believed to be generally safe and well-tolerated, but it is not free of side effects. Read on to learn which adverse effects you should watch out for when using CBD oil, how the delivery form influences them, and what you can do to reduce your risk.
CBD Oil Side Effects
First, it is important to remember that CBD oil is considered experimental and investigational and far more clinical studies are needed before we can make any firm conclusions about its supposed benefits .
Similarly, it’s an insufficiently investigated supplement with a relatively unknown safety profile. The list of side effects listed in this article is, therefore, not a definite one.
So, make sure to speak with your doctor before starting on a CBD oil regimen.
With the recent legalization of CBD oil in many states worldwide, its popularity is booming and people are taking it for not only its FDA-approved use for seizures, but also conditions such as :
An advantage of CBD oil is that it’s considered generally safer and causes fewer adverse effects than the drugs typically used for these conditions. Chronic doses of up to 1500 mg/day were tolerated well in multiple studies [3+, 4].
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t cause behavioral and psychological side effects. What’s more, it may even reduce some of them such as anxiety, psychosis, and memory loss [5, 6, 7, 8].
CBD oil is believed to cause fewer side effects than THC and most prescription drugs, even at high doses.
Nevertheless, there are some potential side effects of CBD oil that you should watch out for. Below is a detailed overview of the most common ones.
1) Dry Mouth
Whether you use them for recreational or medicinal purposes, cannabis products will often make your mouth feel as if it were stuffed with cotton balls. Almost 12% of 1500 people responding to a survey about CBD use experienced dry mouth, making it the most common adverse effect .
Stimulation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the salivary glands reduces saliva secretion, which makes the mouth feel dry. The well-known cannabis compound THC activates these receptors directly. In turn, CBD raises the levels of an activator naturally produced in the body – the cannabinoid anandamide [9, 10, 11, 12].
2) Digestive Issues
Both CBD oil supplements and the FDA-approved CBD medicine Epidiolex have been reported to cause digestive issues such as [2, 4]:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased or reduced appetite
- Weight loss or gain
Because preliminary research suggests that CBD improves rather than causes nausea and diarrhea, these effects most likely result from the irritating effects of other ingredients (e.g., carrier oils) on the bowels [13, 14, 15].
Alternatively, the loose regulation of supplements may allow for excessive CBD levels in products or harmful contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, and solvents [16+, 17].
In turn, the endocannabinoid system has a role in promoting appetite. The mixed effects of CBD on appetite and weight seen in different studies may be due to its dual effect: it blocks the CB1 and CB2 receptors but boosts the levels of their activator anandamide [18, 19, 11].
If you experience digestive issues from using CBD oil, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend reducing the dose or shifting to another brand.
Contaminants and additives are likely responsible for the digestive side effects of low-quality CBD oil: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and appetite and weight changes.
3) Drowsiness and Fatigue
People taking CBD oil often report feeling sleepy and tired. Indeed, this side effect was observed in early clinical trials and one of the most common uses of CBD oil is to improve sleep disorders [20+].
If the symptoms are very severe, you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery.
The effect of CBD on sleep seems to be biphasic: high doses may increase sleeping time, lower amounts may promote wakefulness. Additionally, levels of endocannabinoid receptors depend on the circadian rhythm. This may explain why CBD tends to cause drowsiness later in the day but has the opposite effect in the morning [21, 22, 23].
CBD oil may make you feel sleepy, especially if you take high doses at night. Low morning doses, on the contrary, seem to increase wakefulness.
High doses of CBD lowered blood pressure in a small trial on 9 people. In turn, THC seems to have a more complex effect: it slightly raises blood pressure in people lying down but increases the risk of sudden blood pressure drops when standing up [24, 25+].
As a result, a common adverse effect of CBD – both alone and with equal amounts of THC (nabiximols) – is feeling dizzy and light-headed [26, 27, 28].
If your blood pressure drops too much, you may faint. The risk is especially high in people diagnosed with low blood pressure or on blood pressure medications – such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers. These people should be especially cautious with CBD oil and never try it out without discussing it with their doctor.
CBD oil, alone or with THC, may reduce blood pressure. This can make you feel dizzy and light-headed, especially if you are prone to blood pressure drops.
5) Possible Liver Damage
Several trials testing CBD for seizures found possible liver damage (high transaminases ALT and AST) in 9-25% of the people. The risk increased with the dose and was highest in people also taking the anti-seizure drug valproate, which is known to cause liver injuries [29+, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34].
Similarly, CBD caused signs of liver toxicity (high transaminases, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin) in mice and dogs. However, the doses were generally higher than those used in human trials [35, 36, 37].
Make sure to talk to your doctor, especially if you are taking valproate, and never exceed the recommended CBD oil dose to reduce your risk of liver damage.
CBD oil may cause liver damage at very high doses and in people prescribed the anti-seizure drug valproate.
CBD is often used to curb anxiety, although research suggests it has “inverted U-shaped” effects: moderate doses, but not low or high amounts, may be effective for a range of anxiety disorders and stressful situations [38, 39].
In contrast, very high doses may even trigger anxiety and irritability. This was the case in 7-9% of the children in 2 clinical trials using CBD for seizures and autism [40, 41].
The effect probably involves the TRPV1 receptor, the activation of which increases the brain’s response to stressful situations .
CBD boosts the naturally-produced cannabinoid anandamide. While moderate anandamide levels activate CB1 receptors and curb anxiety, high amounts may worsen it by binding to TRPV1. CBD also activates this receptor directly, further contributing to the potential anxiety-triggering effects [43, 44, 11, 45].
7) Immune Suppression
CBD may reduce the immune response. It prevents T cells from dividing, migrating to inflammation sites, and producing pro-inflammatory cytokines. This may be beneficial in people with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis [46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52].
The downside of blocking the immune response is that it may make people with weakened immune systems more prone to infections. Thus, people on immunosuppressants or with conditions such as HIV, diabetes, and Down syndrome might want to avoid it .
CBD oil seems to reduce the immune response, which may make people with a weak immune system more prone to infections.
CBD didn’t damage the kidneys in clinical trials. In fact, researchers believed it protected against kidney injury and inflammation in numerous animal studies [54, 55, 56, 57, 58]. Remember that larger and better designed clinical trials are needed before these findings are conclusive.
Though more clinical trials are needed, the current evidence suggests CBD oil will not harm your kidneys at normal doses.
On the other hand, people with kidney disease should probably avoid THC-containing medical marijuana without consulting a doctor.
According to a recent review, THC may worsen kidney health and increase urination by activating CB1 receptors. Remember that, unlike THC, CBD blocks these receptors. However, CBD may indirectly activate them by increasing anandamide levels in the body [59+].
Lastly, avoid synthetic cannabinoids at all costs (products like “spice” and “K2” sold in smoke shops). These chemicals caused sudden and severe kidney injury in several cases [59+].
Unlike THC and synthetic cannabinoids, CBD oil probably does not cause side effects on the kidneys; some researchers believe it might even be protective.
Are You at Risk of CBD Oil Side Effects?
CBD altered the levels of two drug transporters in placental cells. This suggests that taking CBD oil during pregnancy may increase the exposure of the fetus to any drugs that the mother takes. Pregnant women should avoid CBD oil in any case, since safety data are lacking .
Taking THC-containing CBD oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding is particularly dangerous, since THC may reduce growth and cause brain developmental anomalies in babies [61+].
Because there are no studies testing its safety in children below 2 years old, it’s better to avoid giving them CBD oil unless prescribed by a doctor.
CBD is thought to be safe in older children, but they may be more sensitive to THC and toxic contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides than adults. Be sure to use high-quality, THC-free CBD in children and consult the doctor first.
Pregnant women and children under 2 years old should avoid CBD oil due to the lack of safety data; THC during pregnancy is known to be dangerous.
Most drugs are broken down by liver enzymes. Among them, cytochrome (CYP) P450 plays a key role. A single CBD dose blocks several CYP enzymes, such as:
By doing so, it may slow the breakdown of several drugs and enhance their effects [62, 63, 64, 65, 66].
Indeed, CBD reduced the breakdown of the sedative hexobarbital, the anti-seizure drug clobazam, and the blood thinner warfarin in humans. It had the same effect on the immunosuppressant cyclosporin and the cannabis compound THC in cells [67, 68, 69, 70].
On the other hand, repeated CBD doses can increase the levels of some enzymes of this group and reduce the effects of the drugs they break down [71, 72, 73, 74].
Plus, CBD itself is broken down by CYP enzymes, especially by CYP34A and CYP2C19. Drugs that block these enzymes (such as ketoconazole and ritonavir) will enhance its effects, while those that activate them (such as phenobarbital and rifampicin) will have the opposite effect [75, 4].
If you are on prescription medication and plan to use CBD oil, ask your doctor about potential interactions and dose readjustment. Additionally, avoid combining CBD oil with grapefruit or other supplements that block the same liver enzymes (such as St John’s wort or watercress).
CBD oil can block or activate liver enzymes that metabolize drugs. This may increase the side effects of both CBD oil and the medication you’re taking.
How Does the Delivery Form Influence CBD Oil Side Effects?
While rapid-release forms (mouth sprays and oil tinctures) deliver CBD directly into your bloodstream, slow-release forms (capsules, edibles, and teas) have to pass your digestive system first. This means their ingredients may irritate your bowels and give you nausea and diarrhea [76+, 77].
However, rapid-release forms will release CBD faster, so you may experience both wanted and unwanted effects sooner [76+, 77].
And since tinctures and sprays are directly applied in the mouth, they will quickly reach the salivary glands and cause dry mouth. Mouth sprays may also cause a stinging sensation and even burns, especially if they contain alcohol [9, 78].
Capsules and edibles are more likely to cause digestive side effects, while mouth sprays and tinctures more frequently cause dry mouth.
Vapes bypass the digestive system without irritating your bowels, but they may trigger the other adverse effects faster [76+, 77].
Vaping is considered safer than smoking cigarettes or joints because the oil is heated at lower temperatures that produce fewer toxic byproducts [76+ 79].
However, the additives used as flavorings and thinning agents in vaping oils may still pose some hazards. Although they are normally food-grade, they may release harmful compounds (including the cancer-causing formaldehyde) when vaporized. Their heavy use may lead to [80, 79, 81+]:
- Dry throat
- Lung injury
- Fat particles entering the lungs (lipoid pneumonia – rare)
For instance, one man developed severe lung damage from vaping CBD oil [82+].
Creams & Gels
Creams and gels act locally on the application site and don’t release CBD into the gut or bloodstream. This means they will not cause most of the adverse effects previously described [76+].
However, they may cause allergic reactions with itching, redness, and rashes on the skin. It’s important to note that the reactions can be caused by either CBD or other ingredients in the formulation [83+, 84+].
How to Reduce Your Risk of Side Effects from CBD Oil
1) Drink More Water
The best way to reduce dry mouth when using CBD oil is to drink plenty of water and other hydrating liquids before, during, and after consumption.
2) Find Additive-Free Products
You can reduce the risk of digestive issues by choosing forms that bypass the gut and directly release CBD into your bloodstream such as vapes, mouth sprays, and oil tinctures. High-quality oils without additives may also irritate your bowels less.
3) Take it Before Sleep
If you feel drowsy or light-headed after taking CBD oil, you may need to reduce the dose or take it only before sleep.
4) Increase Wakefulness Naturally
Drinking coffee or tea will help you both stay awake and raise your blood pressure, but it also causes many side effects. Try to get more sunlight first thing in the morning, as it will energize you and help you get better sleep at night. We talk about other natural ways to increase wakefulness in this post.
5) Support Your Liver
Avoid combining CBD with the anti-seizure drug valproate. Additionally, make sure not to exceed the dose and regularly monitor your liver function to reduce your risk of liver damage. Eggs (choline), artichokes, NAC, and probiotics also support liver health. Read more foods and supplements that are good for the liver here.
6) Don’t Take Megadoses
Only very high CBD doses may cause irritability. Make sure not to exceed the dose and try reducing it if you notice this symptom.
7) Monitor Your Immune Response
If you have a weakened immune system, you should consult your doctor before taking CBD oil. You may need to avoid CBD or take a lower dose.
Additionally, you may also want to look into balancing your Th1/Th2 immune response. If you have a slightly weaker immune system and are prone to allergies, you are probably Th2-dominant.
To reduce your risk of CBD oil side effects, avoid products with additives, drink plenty of water, get sunlight during the day, and support your liver and gut health.
Always make sure to speak with your physician before starting on a CBD oil regimen.
CBD oil is thought to be safe and most people seem to tolerate it well.
Low-quality products may contain additives and toxins that can irritate the lungs when vaped and the gut when taken orally. Choose high-quality products to reduce your risk.
Additionally, CBD oil can make you feel drowsy and lightheaded. If you feel tired after taking CBD oil, lower your dose or use it only before sleep. Look to also increase your wakefulness naturally by getting more sunlight during the day.
High doses may damage the liver, but likely only in people taking the anti-seizure medication valproate. Monitor your liver enzymes and look into natural ways to protect your liver.
Avoid CBD oil if you have a weak immune system, as it might make you more prone to infection.
If you take prescription drugs, consult your doctor. Many drugs can interact with CBD oil and increase the risk of side effects.
Pregnant women and children should avoid CBD oil until more safety data are available.
Some people have genes that make them more likely to experience inflammation. Check out SelfDecode’s Inflammation DNA Wellness Report for genetic-based diet, lifestyle, and supplement tips that can help reduce inflammation levels. The recommendations are personalized based on YOUR DNA.
About the Author
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.
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