While uncommon, there's been a rise in cannabis allergy cases, so what are the symptoms and warning signs?
I once went out with a guy who was allergic to chocolate, when he revealed he couldn't eat it, I couldn't help it, I gasped. Having an allergic reaction to something you really enjoy must be torture, or worse, imagine being allergic to something you desperately need, like a particular chemical or medicine. This brings me to the most recent trend that has begun to pop up, cannabis allergies, which have been emerging at a fast rate, spurred mainly by the medicinal and recreational legalization.
Cannabis allergy is quite difficult to pin down, as you may know, it can be consumed in a multitude of ways, it can be vaporized, smoked, ingested, or used as a lotion. This means the way it is prepared varies, so you may be allergic to a component used in its preparation and not necessarily to a substance found within the cannabis plant. Also, you may be allergic to one type of species of cannabis, for instance, researchers from Belgium released a study called Emerging Allergens: Cannabis where they revealed that "allergy to cannabis sativa (Indian hemp) is growing." This plant is said to cause symptoms like pink eye, skin rashes, asthma, and hay fever when chewed, smoked, and even inhaled.
But wait, it gets even more complicated, beyond the way it is prepared and which species you are consuming, you may be allergic to something found in cannabis that isn't inherent to the plant. Turns out, like all organic material, when incorrectly stored it can begin to mold and the allergic reaction may be due to that. Turns out that moldy marijuana is quite common and poses a great health risk, if your immune system is weak you can develop invasive diseases.
You experience a runny nose and watery eyes
Only in a few places can you actually get tested for cannabis allergy, so you can spot a few signs that may indicate you've developed one. One of the most common, as it happens with most allergies, is a runny nose and watery eyes. You can get these symptoms even if you're standing next to someone who is smoking it. Of course, given it's such a common response, it's hard to pinpoint if you're allergic to cannabis, but if you notice a pattern every single time you consume it in a different way, then it's time perhaps you paid your doctor a visit.
The smell makes you feel sick
One of the cases that sparked worldwide notice was that of a woman in the US who was constantly admitted into the ER due to nausea and vomit. Doctors ran every test possible and it took a few other visits to the ER to finally pinpoint the cause. apparently, every time she smelled cannabis, she would feel sick for hours after exposure.
You get an unusual rash when in contact with it
Some people develop rashes and are unaware of their allergy or believe it's related to something else. Actually, there have been cases of people with terrible hives just because they live near to the plantations and the pollen particles traveling through the air cause this uncomfortable reaction.
You feel you can’t breathe correctly
The allergen as previously mentioned can be found in hemp (a variety of Cannabis sativa, a plant grown specifically for industrial uses) as well, and nowadays many products including clothes and everyday use textiles are made with it. So, if you’re not in direct contact with marijuana, you could present allergic reactions, including a difficulty in breathing.
You suffer from constant food poisoning
Most common allergies are related to food. So what happens in the case of cannabis in particular is that it sometimes is combined with other foods like tomatoes, peaches, apples, bananas, and several types of seed (which are highly allergenic). So, you might think you’re actually allergic to these foods when in fact you’re reacting to some of the chemicals naturally occurring in the cannabis.
The signs of cannabis allergies can vary, as you can see, from a harmless runny nose to an anaphylactic shock depending on your body’s reaction to the substance. The problem is that there's little research on cannabis allergies and as such those that suffer from it believe the cause is something else entirely, precisely because of this lack of information available. The important thing here is for you to start spotting the patterns and identify the possible causes. Either way, it's always good to pay your doctor a visit.
Here are other facts on pot you should read:
Images by @annartcher