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Breathe Easier with CBD Oil for Allergies and Asthma

Should CBD be part of your anti-allergy arsenal this spring? It could have surprising benefits.

Anyone who deals with allergies or asthma knows that smoking — whether we’re talking cigarettes or cannabis — can just exacerbate the problem. So it’s not surprising that people would turn to the wide variety of smoke-free CBD products as an anti-inflammatory alternative. But can you really use CBD oil for allergies and asthma?

So far, the research and anecdotal evidence are promising. But there are several important questions to ask before you dive in. Which delivery methods are most effective for relieving allergy and asthma symptoms? How much CBD do you need to take? And how beneficial is CBD for these conditions?

In this article, we’ll take a look at all of these questions to help you make the right decision for your health.

About CBD for Allergies and Asthma

Claim

CBD can treat and protect against asthma and allergy flare ups.

Research Shows

There are anecdotal claims and emerging research that CBD can reduce inflammation and mucus production related to allergies and asthma.

Just the Facts

By interacting with endocannabinoid receptors, CBD may treat and protect against asthma and allergy symptoms. However, more research will help to better understand this process.

About Allergies and Asthma

Asthma is a condition in which a person’s airways swell up and become narrower. That swelling causes coughing and chest pain, and in more severe cases can make it difficult to breathe.

Asthma cannot be cured, so the most common treatment is an inhaler that sprays drugs to open up the airways. These provide short-term, sudden relief, while other steroid-based inhalers can provide some long-term relief.

CBD is known to function as an immune modulator, so some allergy sufferers may find improvement in their condition.
— Karyemaître Aliffe, MD
An allergy, on the other hand, is a type of chronic disease that causes the immune system to perceive certain substances as harmful. As a result, it overreacts in trying to protect the body from them.

Allergy symptoms can include watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and/or rashes or hives. In more severe cases, allergies can result in swelling in the mouth and throat that can restrict breathing.

Like asthma, allergies cannot be cured. But one way to manage them is by avoiding the triggering substances. In addition, corticosteroid nasal sprays can reduce allergic inflammation, and antihistamines help prevent the immune system from overreacting.

How CBD Could Help

CBD could help people with allergies and asthma by serving as a general anti-inflammatory agent. It may also interact with the endocannabinoid system to reduce mucus production.

Dr. Karyemaître Aliffe is a physician who focuses on cannabis-based healthcare options. He says, “CBD is known to function as an immune modulator, so some allergy sufferers may find improvement in their condition.”

More specifically, cannabis activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and that can decrease airway sensitivity in people suffering from asthma. However, Dr. Aliffe added that “this activity would be associated more with full-spectrum, THC-containing products than with a CBD isolate.”

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Dr. Philip Blair, an endocannabinologist, said scientists are not sure exactly why full-spectrum CBD is more effective, but it has something to do with the “entourage effect.”

“Consistently, whole-plant derived CBD performs better, with less adverse effects than isolate, at significantly lower amounts of CBD,” he said.

Asthma responds superbly to oral CBD.
— Dr. Phillip Blair, MD, Col (ret. USArmy)
As for specific CBD applications, Dr. Blair recommended taking CBD oil orally or through a vape pen. “Asthma responds superbly to oral CBD. In my experience, liposomal products are very effective in immediately improving several aspects of this disorder. Vaporization of CBD is helpful but not as complete as oral/sublingual use.”

Using CBD Vape Products for Asthma and Allergies

A representative from the CBD retailer Anavii Market, who asked to remain anonymous, shared his story about using CBD to take control of his asthma and allergies.

He’d been using a typical Albuterol inhaler for years without much help, and after trying a CBD vape pen his condition significantly improved. “I had relief pretty much instantly. Within the first day or two, wheezing stopped. I stopped having issues breathing. My coughing and buildup in my chest, lungs, and nose stopped,” he said.

He takes between 6-10 puffs of CBD per day, especially after waking up, before going to bed, and when he’s preparing to go outside. He no longer uses an inhaler, and after about five months of vaping CBD, he hasn’t noticed any negative side effects.

Research Highlights

Click the studies listed below to learn about the latest research on CBD oil for asthma and allergy symptoms. You’ll also find links to peer-reviewed scientific articles on the topic.

2018: CBD for Skin Allergies

This 2018 study examined whether CBD and other cannabinoids can protect human skin from breaking out in rashes after coming in contact with an allergen. The researchers did not test any substances on human skin, but they used human skin cells grown in lab cultures to simulate similar biological reactions to allergens.

In the study, the researchers exposed some skin cell cultures to an immune system stimulant called polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid, which triggered an inflammatory response. They exposed other cultures to combinations of the poly I:C acid and different cannabinoids, including CBD.

The cultures exposed to both the acid and CBD showed reduced inflammation. The researchers also observed a reduction in a specific type of monocyte chemotactic protein, MCP-2. Scientists believe that MCP-2 plays a fundamental role in developing allergic reactions like inflammation.

This provides further evidence that CBD can help the body fight and reduce allergic reactions not only preventatively, but also in the moment.

2015: CBD for Asthma
In this study, researchers looked at how CBD might affect the levels of chemicals called “interleukins,” which can cause the body to produce antibodies that trigger allergic reactions and asthma.

The researchers began by inducing asthma in rats and taking blood samples to measure the levels of interleukins associated with asthma and allergies, specifically IL-4. As expected, asthma raised the levels of these interleukins.

After some time, they injected the rats with a liquid CBD solution, waited 24 hours, then killed the rats. In examining the rat’s bodies, the researchers saw significantly lower levels of IL-4, suggesting that CBD had caused this reduction.

Although this study was not performed on humans, it demonstrates how CBD might be able to help the body not overreact to irritants that cause asthma flare ups.

2008: Cannabinoid Receptors and Asthmatic Symptoms
In this 2008 study, researchers examined how the body’s cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, might play a role in regulating asthmatic symptoms.

Several groups of guinea pigs received a substance that induced asthma-like reactions such as coughing, airway inflammation, and mucus production. Some were pretreated with a cannabinoid receptor antagonist, which essentially dampens the effects of the cannabinoid receptors on the airway.

Guinea pigs who didn’t get the pretreatment had more activity in their cannabinoid receptors. As a result, they experienced more airway inflammation, mucus, and coughing. But guinea pigs who received the cannabinoid receptor antagonist pretreatment had less airway inflammation, mucus, and coughing.

While this didn’t directly study the effects of CBD oil for allergies or asthma, it was important in establishing the connection between the endocannabinoid system and asthma. This study clearly demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in key asthma symptoms. It also showed that manipulating the system can increase or decrease those symptoms.

Concerns About Using CBD for Allergies and Asthma

Since CBD has been found to be generally well tolerated with a good safety profile, there are no specific risks involved with taking CBD for allergies or asthma.

Even if a person sees no improvement in their allergies or asthma after taking CBD, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties make it highly unlikely to exacerbate these conditions.

The biggest concern would have to do with the consumption method. For instance, smoking hemp with high-CBD content could irritate allergies or asthma. Vaping CBD oil, which does not produce any smoke, would be a better choice for someone who prefers an inhaled product.

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The Author

Nic Dobija-Nootens

Nic Dobija-Nootens

Nic Dobija-Nootens lives in New York and writes about skateboarding, podcasts, TV, and many other things he refuses to grow out of. See what ails him at @noochens.

You can also find more of his writing about CBD at the Growers Network and the National Hemp Association.