Everything You Need to Know About Allergy to Marijuana
Marijuana is a weed derived from Cannabis sativa, which is usually cultivated, though most commonly it grows in the wild. Nowadays this plant is widely used for recreational and medicinal aims through either ingestion or inhalation. However, not many people know that Cannabis sativa produces lots of pollen that can be spread by the wind over large distances. It resembles other weed pollen called Nettle, famous for causing allergic reactions.
The statistics show that over the past 40 years there have been reported numerous cases of allergy to marijuana, which include exposure to pollen, inhalation of smoke and ingestion of any parts of the plant.
Allergy to Cannabis Pollen
Many patients reported such symptoms as allergic conjunctivitis, asthma and rhinitis after being exposed to the pollen of this weed. The research conducted in 1980 showed positive skin tests in 70% of atopic people to marijuana pollen. 2008 study report said about a woman who experienced eye and nasal allergy being exposed to Cannabis when working in a laboratory. The treatment of this type of allergy resembles to the one for other types of pollen allergy.
As for now there is no test for marijuana pollen allergy available in the market, however, doctors could as well use Cannabis plant to make a homemade skin test.
Allergy to Smoke
In addition to pollen allergens and Cannabis, marijuana smoke is expected to contain THC, or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, that may also be the trigger for various allergic reactions.
Smoking flowers and buds was reported to cause such reactions as asthma, allergic rhinitis, anaphylaxis, angioedema and urticaria. In 2012 a report of 17 people was published with the information that all the skin tests to a homemade allergy extract from marijuana were positive. The report said nothing about the treatment of these people, but only recommended to avoid smoking Cannabis. Even the assumptions that allergy shots containing Cannabis pollen could somehow be helpful haven’t been proven as for now.
Other reported reactions from smoking flowers and buds resulted from contamination of the plant matter with a mold called Aspergillus that typically causes allergic reactions, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
Allergy to Eating Cannabis
There have also been such allergic reactions as angioedema and urticaria reported from consuming marijuana in the form of baked goods and herbal teas. Also there has been found cross-reactivity between Cannabis and other types of foods, e.g. tomato and peach. It allows us to make a conclusion that allergies to fruits and other pollens may be a predisposition to developing an allergy to consuming marijuana.
The treatment of this type of allergy resembles to the one for other food allergies.