Can CBD Oil Cause Itching? [Explained]
Most experts consider cannabidiol (CBD) to have an excellent safety profile and minimal risk of side effects. However, some patients have reported experiencing itching after using CBD oil. Could this be a CBD side effect or merely a coincidence?
In this article, we’ll answer the question, “can CBD oil cause itching?” Read on to learn more.
Does CBD Make You Itch?
One of the reasons CBD has become so popular is that it generally causes very few adverse effects.
A 2017 review for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research investigated the safety and side effects of CBD. It concluded that CBD has a favorable side effect profile in comparison to many pharmaceuticals that treat the same conditions.
That said, side effects did occur, with the most common being tiredness, diarrhea, and appetite/weight changes. The report makes no mention of itching as a potential CBD oil side effect.
However, over in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had different findings. The MHRA runs something known as the Yellow Card Scheme. The scheme provides consumers with an opportunity to report adverse reactions after using a specific medicine or supplement.
The 2019 report suggests that there were at least two cases of rashes and itching after using CBD oil. One patient took CBD orally and experienced urticaria, a severe skin reaction involving red welts, swelling, and intense itching. Another used CBD both orally and topically, and also experienced itching.
It seems that the most likely explanation for these adverse effects is an allergic reaction to CBD oil. So, how common is this problem, and are there any other symptoms?
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Itching and Other CBD Oil Allergic Reaction Symptoms
There is little information available on CBD oil allergies. However, there is some research into cannabis allergies in general. The Annals of Asthma, Allergies, and Immunology conducted a study in 2013. It concluded that there had been cases of hypersensitivity and even anaphylaxis after using marijuana.
Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is an extreme allergic reaction. It results in swelling of the airways, inability to breathe, and can potentially be fatal. Other cannabis allergy symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Rhinitis (nasal inflammation)
- Nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Watery eyes
The research also suggests that high doses of cannabis could lead to asthma and bronchitis.
Furthermore, it states that workers in hemp processing facilities may experience higher rates of respiratory problems. The authors point out that most cannabis allergies occur due to smoking and direct handling. However, consuming edibles could also potentially cause a reaction.
The AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) says that cannabis allergy can develop due to “inhaling, smoking, touching, and eating marijuana.” It states that touching the plant could cause rashes, hives, and swelling in sensitive individuals.
Since CBD comes from cannabis plants, it is reasonable to assume that those with cannabis allergies could also be sensitive to CBD. However, more research is necessary to confirm how many people are allergic to CBD oil, and to what extent.
Can CBD Oil Cause a Skin Rash?
As we have already mentioned, there have been isolated reports of CBD causing a skin rash. This side effect may be more common with a particular form of CBD known as Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is the only form of CBD with full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, scientists have tested it rigorously for both potential benefits and side effects. The drug’s prescribing information lists rashes as one of the most common side effects of Epidiolex.
It also states that the drug could cause liver problems. One of the symptoms of this is itching. Other signs of liver issues include:
- Reduced appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Dark urine
- Pain in the upper-right abdominal area
Anyone experiencing these side effects after taking Epidiolex or CBD oil should seek medical advice immediately.
Can CBD Oil Cause Itchy Eyes?
Itchy eyes are a common allergy symptom. Pollen allergies often cause the eyes to become red, watery, and itchy. Therefore, someone coming into contact with cannabis or hemp pollen could experience these effects.
Those who use marijuana regularly may be familiar with the tell-tale side effect of red or bloodshot eyes. However, this is not due to CBD but the intoxicating compound in cannabis, THC.
Red eyes are the result of THC causing the blood vessels to relax and widen. Many believe that, for the same reason, marijuana could be a useful glaucoma treatment.
We couldn’t find any reliable reports of CBD oil causing itchy eyes, but that does not mean it is impossible. Let us know in the comments at the end of the article if you have experienced this.
CBD and Itching: The Problem or the Solution?
Although some people have experienced itching after using CBD oil, this reaction only affects a minority of users. In fact, some research suggests that CBD could offer a solution to itching in skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis.
CBD impacts the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is present in most of the body’s tissues, including the skin. Experts believe that it regulates the growth and development of skin cells and influences their immune function.
The ECS is also present in the skin’s nerve endings and plays a role in sensory perception, including pain and itching. These effects are under the control of numerous cell receptors, including cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). These receptors become active when they bind with chemicals called endocannabinoids that our bodies naturally produce.
It seems that CBD works primarily by increasing the levels of these endocannabinoids to enhance ECS function. This effect means that CBD could be more likely to relieve itching than cause it.
A 2006 study for the German journal Der Hautarzt tested a compound called N-palmitoyl ethanolamine (PEA) in 22 patients with itching due to various skin conditions. The chemical is a cannabinoid agonist, meaning that it stimulates receptors in the ECS. Of the 22 participants, 14 experienced reductions in itching. The average reduction was an impressive 86.4%.
This study, unfortunately, had a very small sample size, and more research is necessary to confirm its results conclusively. However, these preliminary findings suggest that, unless you have a CBD allergy, the compound is more likely to act as a solution to itching than a cause.
Can CBD Oil Cause Itching? Final Thoughts
It seems that CBD oil may cause itching in a small number of consumers. This reaction is most likely the result of a CBD allergy or sensitivity to other ingredients in the product. The latter could be especially true when using topical CBD products as these contain a variety of components that could potentially irritate the skin.
We advise anyone thinking about using CBD skin creams to look for a product containing all-natural ingredients and as few of them as possible. This precaution is especially important if you have sensitive skin or other allergies.
As always, we only recommend buying CBD from reputable brands that publish third-party lab reports on their websites. Products that have not undergone testing may contain contaminants and increase the risk of adverse reactions like itching.
And finally, if you do experience itching after taking CBD, we suggest that you stop using it immediately. Make an appointment with a physician, who will be able to run tests and advise you further.
CBD is known to have very few side effects, but can it cause itching? We take a look at whether CBD can cause allergies and itchy skin.
Can you be allergic to marijuana?
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People can have allergic reactions triggered by marijuana, just as they can with many other plants and pollens. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe.
In recent years, there seems to have been an increase in the number of reports of marijuana allergies. This may be because marijuana, or cannabis, is becoming more popular as a medicinal treatment for a range of conditions. Some states have also legalized the drug for recreational use.
Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, can also cause negative reactions in some people.
Read on to learn more about the causes and symptoms of marijuana allergies, and the possible effects of CBD oil.
Share on Pinterest A marijuana allergy may be triggered by eating, smoking, or touching the plant or its products.
More than 50 million Americans have allergies. While marijuana may have some medical benefits, marijuana pollen can trigger allergy symptoms in some people.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), a person can develop an allergy or allergic sensitization to marijuana after exposure to the plant. People can be exposed to cannabis allergens in the following ways:
- inhaling pollen in the air
- smoking marijuana
- touching marijuana
- eating marijuana
Research published in 2013 suggests a particular strain of cannabis called Cannabis sativa may be especially irritating.
A recent small-scale study from 2018 reports that people are more likely to have a cannabis allergy if they have allergies to cat dander, molds, dust mites, or plants.
More research is needed, however, to establish this possible link.
Common symptoms of a marijuana allergy, many of which are similar to seasonal allergy symptoms, include:
- a dry cough
- itchy eyes
- red, itchy, or watery eyes
- a runny nose
- sore or itchy throat
Handling the drug may also cause contact dermatitis, a skin reaction that can have the following symptoms:
- dry skin
- red, inflamed skin
Symptoms of marijuana allergies can come on immediately after exposure to the plant, although, in other cases, they may not begin for an hour or more.
To stop symptoms from getting worse, a person who notices these effects should immediately stop touching or smoking the drug.
Less commonly, marijuana can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This condition can be life-threatening and occurs within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen.
Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- difficulty breathing
- itchy and flushed or pale skin
- low blood pressure
- swollen tongue or throat
- weak and rapid pulse
Anaphylaxis can result in a coma or death, so it is essential to get emergency medical attention if this reaction is suspected.
Along with anaphylaxis, the main risks linked to a marijuana allergy are that it may be linked to cross-reactivity with other allergens.
Cross-reactivity happens when the proteins, such as pollen, in the marijuana plant resemble the proteins in another plant. An allergic reaction may then occur when a person comes into contact with similar proteins elsewhere.
Foods with proteins that resemble marijuana proteins, and which may, therefore, cause an allergic reaction in people with marijuana allergies, include:
Doctors diagnose marijuana allergies in the same way as other types of allergies, by using skin tests or blood tests.
A doctor will first take a person’s medical history and perform a physical examination. They may then use a skin prick test. This test is not very invasive, and the results come back quickly.
In a skin prick test, the doctor will apply a diluted allergen, such as marijuana, to the skin’s surface with a needle. If a red bump or wheal, itching, and redness develop in that area within 15 minutes, a person may be allergic to that substance.
A doctor may also use an intradermal test. This test involves using a thin needle to inject a diluted allergen just below the skin’s surface.
Blood tests are another way of checking for marijuana allergies. A sample of blood is drawn and tested for the presence of antibodies to marijuana. If a person has more antibodies in the blood than expected, they are more likely to be allergic to marijuana.
Blood tests may be better than skin prick tests in some cases because they involve a single needle prick. They are also less likely to be affected by any other medications. However, the results take longer to come back, and the tests are more expensive than skin tests.
At present, no treatment is available for a marijuana allergy. A person can take antihistamines to manage symptoms and reduce discomfort. Antihistamines are available for purchase online.
For some types of pollen allergy, a course of allergy shots is prescribed to reduce a person’s sensitization to the substance. But these are not currently available for marijuana pollen.
Because of the lack of treatment options, those who are allergic to marijuana should avoid smoking, eating, or touching the plant or the drug to prevent allergy symptoms.
If a person has a severe allergy to marijuana, they should carry an epinephrine injection (Adrenaclick, Epipen, or others) in case of accidental exposure and subsequent anaphylaxis.
Avoiding exposure to marijuana is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction to the plant or drug.
A person who is using medical marijuana and suspects that they may be allergic to it should speak with their doctor to find an alternative treatment.
People who work in a marijuana processing plant should limit exposure by using:
- allergy medications
- face masks
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a substance that comes from the marijuana plant. Medicinal uses include treating some seizure disorders.
CBD is different from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. Pure CBD does not have mind-altering effects. Only THC produces these “highs.”
In contrast, CBD may have antipsychotic and anti-inflammatory properties.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one CBD-based drug, Epidiolex. This prescription-only treatment can help people who have two types of rare and severe epilepsy. The drug received approval in June 2018.
For most uses, research has not yet confirmed how safe and effective CBD- or marijuana-based products are, and there are no regulations controlling the production or sale of CBD oil and other marijuana products.
Some CBD products contain THC, but it is not always clear how much, even when there is a label.
For this reason, most consumers do not know how safe their CBD oil is, especially when used in high quantities.
A 2011 review of previous studies on CBD oil reports conflicting findings. The researchers suggest that, while long-term use and high doses up to 1,500 milligrams a day may be well tolerated by people, some adverse reactions have been observed.
At high intakes, CBD oil may cause:
- dry mouth
- interactions with other medications
- low blood pressure
A 2017 study recommends more research be carried out on the effect of CBD on certain enzymes, drug transporters, and the effects of other drugs.
Some people use CBD oil as a topical treatment for skin disorders or neurological pain. A person should try applying a small amount of the oil first, to ensure they will not experience an unwanted reaction.
In addition to Epidiolex, the FDA have also approved three drugs that contain a synthetic form of THC. Marinol and Syndros treat the severe weight loss that can occur with AIDS. Cesamet can help prevent nausea and vomiting in people who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
As with other medications, it is possible to experience an allergic reaction to Epidiolex, Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet.
A person can develop allergies to marijuana, as with other plants. This can occur after touching, smoking, or eating cannabis products (edibles), or inhaling the pollen. Symptoms are similar to other allergies, including sneezing, a rash, and itching skin. A person can also have a reaction to cannabidiol oil or CBD.