Spring is in full swing, and summer will soon be upon us. For many, the (sporadically) warm weather cannot come soon enough. For many of us however, this means it’s time to run for cover. Runny noses, sore throats and watering, itchy eyes. The dreaded hay fever season is here!
If this applies to you, you are most certainly not alone. In fact, roughly 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer with hay fever – almost 17 million of us!
Hay fever season typically lasts from late March through to early September and can be incredibly debilitating for those who are unlucky enough to be burdened with such allergies.
On the whole, allergens are not inherently harmless. For those who do not have to deal with hay fever, allergens such as pollen do not cause your immune system to malfunction. Those who do however, will experience an overreaction in the immune system, which proceeds to attack these perceived invaders. It is this overreaction that leads to the symptoms typically associated with allergies, such as sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes etc.
This article will examine whether CBD has the potential to ease the symptoms of hay fever and other such allergies, which are broadly similar. Read on to discover what the science tells us.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen, which manifests when pollen particles come into contact with the mouth, eyes, nose and throat. Symptoms for hay fever are typically at their worst during the warmer months, between late March and early September. This is when the pollen count is at its highest. The mild allergic reaction that this causes, produces symptoms that include:
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- A runny nose
- A blocked nose
- Nasal congestion
- Swollen eyes
How is hay fever treated?
There is no known cure or specific treatment for hay fever, although there are a number of over-the-counter medications that can be obtained to relieve many of these symptoms somewhat.
Antihistamines are by far the most popular method of managing hay fever and other allergies but unfortunately these do come with a number of undesirable side effects. These include blurred vision, drowsiness and a dry mouth.
The NHS suggest a number of different ways in which you can reduce symptoms of hay fever. These include:
- Wearing sunglasses
- Regularly vacuuming
- Staying indoors
- Regularly showering
- Using Vaseline around the nostrils to trap pollen
While some of these are more practical than others, there is mounting evidence to suggest that CBD could well provide effective relief of particular hay fever symptoms and other allergic reactions. These typically come with less side effects too.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids that make up the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning it will not get you high or alter your state of mind.
It is frequently confused with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC as it is more commonly known. This is the dominant psychoactive cannabinoid of the cannabis sativa plant and is responsible for the ‘high’ often depicted in popular culture.
CBD however, retains a glut of therapeutic benefits without cognitively impairing the user.
CBD works by interacting with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a multifaceted cell-signalling network that maintains a number of our regular bodily functions and promoting biological stability. These functions include sleep, mood, responses to pain and immune health amongst others.
The ECS is still something of a mystery to scientists, but we are slowly learning more and more about it. CBD moderates the activity of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. Our body naturally produces its own endocannabinoids and CBD can be used to enhance the support of the ECS in maintaining sound mental and physical health. sound
CBD for treating hay fever – what does the research say?
Many people will wish to use CBD as a natural solution for combatting hay fever symptoms in order to avoid the myriad side effects that accompany anti-histamines and other traditional remedies.
That said, CBD is not a cure-all and should not be used as a treatment for severe allergic reactions.
Before we get started on the research that specifically examines links between CBD and hay fever, there is a great deal of research proving how effective CBD is as an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant.
Due to inflammation serving as the underlying cause to a number of symptoms of allergic reactions, there are already positive signs to suggest that CBD can provide some degree of relief. The symptoms that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can aid include the easing of nasal pressure, opening of airways to ease breathing and the relieving of congestion.
Furthermore, contact dermatitis is a reaction of the skin to unfamiliar detergents or skin care products, where the skin becomes red and irritated. Symptoms are typically mild and come about when certain chemicals come into contact with the skin and cause a reaction. Research suggests that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are effective in reducing symptoms of contact dermatitis.
While research examining CBD and allergic reactions specifically is currently predominantly restricted to animal studies, there are a number of positive results that have been garnered.
To begin with, a 2013 study involving guinea pigs, found that “cannabidiol reduced airway obstruction”. This was after the guinea pigs had been administered with an antigen to stimulate contraction in their throat muscles. The researchers declared that CBD “may have beneficial effects in the treatment of obstructive airway disorders”.
The following year, in 2014, one notable animal study examined the role of a-pinene (a terpene found in cannabis) in treating hay fever symptoms. The researchers declared “a-pinene is a promising anti-allergic agent and may be useful in the clinical management of hay fever”. However, to benefit from a-pinene you would have to use a broad-spectrum CBD product, such as Cannacares’ CBD patches. This will not be found in products using CBD isolate.
A more recent study, conducted in 2019 observed the effects of CBD on allergic asthma in mice. Mice that were administered CBD had reduced symptoms, including less airway inflammation. If these effects translate into a human setting, this would suggest that CBD can effectively relieve congestion.
Finally, evidence suggests that cannabinoid receptors are involved in suppressing the activity of mast cells.
Mast cells are immune cells responsible for the release of histamine, which are signalling cells that cause many of the symptoms associated with allergic reactions such as hay fever.
Consequently, CBD could inhibit the release of histamine by mast cells. Theoretically speaking, this could reduce the body’s allergic reaction to allergens such as pollen. However, these effects are yet to be empirically confirmed.
As can be seen in the examples above, the evidence for CBD in treating the symptoms hay fever and other allergic reactions is largely restricted to animal studies. Further human studies will shed more light on the capability of CBD to alleviate symptoms of allergic reactions and establish optimal dosage.
How to use CBD for treating hay fever symptoms
There are a multitude of CBD products available on the market and at times choosing which is the best for you can be an overwhelming task. Below are a few examples of products that may help you to find relief from hay fever symptoms.
CBD Oil Tinctures
CBD oil is the typical entry product for the majority of first-time CBD users. CBD oil comes in a small bottle with a dropper that allows you to accurately consume a particular dose. You simply squeeze the dropper to suck up your desired amount of oil, drop this under your tongue, hold for 90 seconds and swallow. CBD oil is popular due to the fine control it gives you over dosage, allowing you to increase or decrease to your own preference. CBD oil should typically be consumed 3-4 times a day.
CBD capsules are preferred by those who do not enjoy the earthy taste that often accompanies CBD oil. There is 30mg of CBD per capsule, so dosing is easy to keep track of compared to oils. The capsules are to be swallowed with water, just like any other supplement. These are to be taken twice a day and tend to last a bit longer than a dose of CBD oil.
CBD patches are the most popular delivery method among the Cannacares’ community. This innovative delivery method is by far the easiest to use. Simply apply the patch to the outside of the upper arm or inside of the wrist and enjoy 24 hours of consistent, steady CBD dosage. Furthermore, our CBD patches use broad spectrum CBD as they are a classed as a topical product. This allows the entourage effect (synergistic nature of cannabinoids) to take hold and can enhance the efficacy of CBD.
The high bioavailability of CBD patches also makes them a great choice. This means that the body benefits from almost 100% of the therapeutic value of the CBD, whereas our digestive system breaks down a higher percentage of CBD that is consumed orally.
While the evidence of CBD’s impact on the symptoms of hay fever and other allergic reactions is largely restricted to animal studies at this juncture, there are certainly promising signs.
If these aforementioned benefits of CBD do translate to humans, and anecdotal evidence suggests that may be the case, then it is definitely worth trying – particularly with the lack of side effects that are far less prevalent than those that accompany existing treatment.
As mentioned earlier in the article, please do not rely on CBD for treating severe allergies.