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Weed Allergy Symptoms and Treatment

Angela Morrow, RN, BSN, CHPN, is a certified hospice and palliative care nurse.

Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.

Could you have a marijuana allergy? Is it possible to be allergic to weed or pot? Whether you are new to medicinal marijuana (or legal marijuana) or have used it in the past without a problem, it is quite possible to have a marijuana allergy.

Let’s take a look at the symptoms of a weed allergy, allergy to edibles, the problems associated with diagnosing the allergy, and what you can do if you have one.

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Verywell / Cindy Chung

Symptoms

A marijuana allergy can cause skin problems if the plant or its flowers are handled. Symptoms of skin irritation might include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Rash or hives
  • Dry, scaly skin

There is also some evidence that marijuana might be an airborne allergen, with individuals becoming sensitized after inhalation of marijuana pollen. They may also become sensitive to airborne hemp dust from industrial processing of the plant.

Airborne allergy symptoms from marijuana are generally similar to the problems caused by any other airborne allergen, such as:

  • Rhinitis or hay fever (itchy, runny nose)
  • Nasal congestion
  • A sore throat
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma  

Allergic Reactions to Edibles

Marijuana edibles have become more available for medicinal use as well as places where they are legal for all users. While it is rare, there are reported cases of anaphylaxis reactions with eating hemp seeds.   The symptoms can include ocular symptoms, rash or hives, swelling, shortness of breath, and difficulty speaking.

Causes

Many types of pollen from plants, such as ragweed, flowers, and trees, can cause allergic reactions in some people, and marijuana is no different. Marijuana flowers produce pollen that can prove problematic for sensitive individuals, and it can affect the skin or respiratory system.

It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to eating marijuana seeds or marijuana edibles. You may also have an allergy similar to other food allergies when ingesting marijuana-containing products, including rashes and swelling. It may be that your body is allergic to other foods and is cross-reacting to marijuana, and vice versa.

Allergies to tomatoes, peaches, bananas, citrus, grapefruit, eggplant, almonds, and chestnuts have been seen to cross-react with marijuana in various studies.  

Marijuana Use and Sensitization to Other Allergens

A confounding factor in evaluating possible allergies to weed is that it appears that marijuana smoking may sensitize people (stimulate them to develop an allergy to) other antigens.

In one study, marijuana use was associated with the development of allergies to mold, dust mites, plants, and cat dander.   This could mean that a new onset of an allergy is related to sensitization to another allergen, rather than an allergy to weed itself.

Diagnosis

Skin testing is the usual way an allergy specialist can pinpoint an allergy. These tests aren’t standardized for marijuana allergy testing, but in theory your allergist could prepare an extract or slurry using the leaves, buds, and flowers of the plant and perform a standard prick test.  

In most cases, your doctor would need to make the diagnosis based on your report of your exposure and symptoms.

Treatment

If you suspect you have developed a marijuana allergy, it is generally best to avoid the plant altogether. This can be difficult if you are having an airborne exposure that you have no control over.

If you have been using marijuana for medicinal purposes, you might want to speak with your physician and seek professional medical advice. They might be able to suggest alternative treatment options for your condition and symptoms that won’t cause allergic reactions.

If you are unable to avoid marijuana exposure, discuss with your doctor whether to use antihistamines or decongestants for symptoms such as a runny nose and red eyes.

With symptoms of an anaphylactic type of reaction, seek immediate emergency medical care. These reactions can be life-threatening and need to be treated fast.

You may need to carry an Epi-pen in the future if you have an anaphylactic type of reaction.

Learn how to recognize and treat a marijuana allergy by understanding the symptoms and speaking with your physician if these symptoms occur.

Can You Be Allergic to Hemp Hearts?

Can you be allergic to hemp hearts?

Sadly, the answer is yes, but don’t worry too much yet, a hemp heart allergy is rare. To know for sure, you will have to check with your allergist. Until then, here are some symptoms you may encounter if you have a hemp heart food allergy.

Can You Be Allergic to Hemp Hearts?

You can be allergic to hemp hearts, but you won’t find a lot of information about it. That’s because most studies are about whether or not people are allergic to marijuana.

While it’s rare, there have been reported cases of allergies to marijuana and hemp that have resulted in anaphylaxis .

You can be allergic to hemp in different ways. The first is an airborne allergy to cannabis plant pollen. Just like any other plant allergy, it affects the skin or respiratory system. You can compare this to the symptoms most people have during allergy season in spring when a heavy amount of pollen is found in the air.

The second is a food allergy caused by ingesting hemp products. Like other food allergies, you can be allergic to the protein in hemp hearts.

A food allergy occurs when your body attempts to fight off a protein in a food that it thinks is a foreign invader. You exhibit symptoms that are a result of your body fighting back. Even if you have hemp heart allergy symptoms, to know for sure, you will need to be tested by an allergist.

How Common is a Hemp Heart Allergy?

A hemp heart allergy is not very common. In fact, most allergies that occur are caused by the same eight foods, commonly referred to as the top eight.

The top 8 food allergies are:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

You will have to ask your doctor to include hemp hearts to an allergy test if you feel you’ve exhibited symptoms. The symptoms of hemp allergy are similar to other food allergy symptoms. Food allergy symptoms, including those to hemp hearts, are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling mouth or tongue
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
  • Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is life-threatening and can happen within minutes. During anaphylaxis, you can experience a drop in blood pressure or heart rate and breathing impairment. A sign of anaphylactic shock occurs when two or more allergy symptoms happen at once. If you have two or more symptoms, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

Food allergies are tricky because they don’t always present themselves the same way. All reactions are different, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if any of the above symptoms occur.

What are the Side Effects of Hemp Heart Protein?

The side effects of eating hemp seeds can vary. Hemp hearts have a high amount of healthy fat and protein. Therefore, pregnant women or people with digestive issues may suffer from diarrhea if they overeat. In this case, a side effect could occur in the form of a hemp seed stomach ache.

The side effects of hemp heart protein are the same side effects of consuming too much protein . They include weight gain, constipation, and dehydration.

These side effects happen because of too much protein in your diet. To combat the side effects of a hemp heart protein, incorporate hemp hearts into a balanced diet and don’t overeat them. Take all the protein you eat under consideration and stick to your recommended daily values.

Suffering side effects doesn’t mean that you are allergic to hemp hearts. Side effects differ from allergy symptoms. Allergy symptoms would include a runny nose, hives, itching, or redness mimicking seasonal allergies or food allergies.

Remember to contact your doctor right away if you have more than one allergy symptom at a time. It could mean you are suffering from anaphylaxis.

Can Hemp Cause Headaches?

It’s been reported that using CBD can cause different side effects , including headaches. This side effect is often due to added ingredients, but remember, there’s no CBD in hemp seeds . Therefore hemp products like hemp hearts and hemp bars don’t cause headaches.

If you have an airborne allergy, other symptoms like sneezing or coughing could also cause a mild headache. This reaction is not due to eating hemp seeds, so getting a headache from eating hemp seed products is unlikely.

Which Hemp Products Cause the Most Allergic Reactions?

If you are allergic to hemp hearts, do not eat any products that contain hemp seeds. Hemp seeds are found in baked goods, protein powders, and nutrition bars. Any amount of hemp seed in any form can cause a reaction if you are allergic.

One hemp product will not cause more of an allergic reaction than another. If you are allergic to hemp protein consuming it in any form will cause a reaction. Every person is different and your reactions to different products may vary.

Can I Eat Hemp Seeds if I Have a Nut Allergy?

You can eat hemp seeds if you have a nut allergy unless you are allergic to hemp seeds directly. Hemp seeds have become an alternative for people with nut allergies to replace the nutritional value they are missing from omitting nuts from their diets.

If you have a peanut or tree nut allergy, your allergist or doctor may recommend you stay away from all nuts due to cross-contamination.

Many manufacturers of peanuts also manufacture a mixed variety of nuts. So, if you eat an almond that has been mixed in with peanuts in the factory you run the risk of an allergic reaction.

Seeds and tree nuts are handled differently. For example, it’s unlikely a peanut will be cross-contaminated in the factory with a coconut.

Snack seeds aren’t usually stored with tree nuts and peanuts. During manufacturing, hemp seeds only come in contact with other hemp seeds because of quality checks and classification. It’s essential hemp seeds are qualified as hemp before they make it into products. This means they don’t get the chance to be cross-contaminated with other nuts.

Bars and baked goods with hemp can have nuts or tree nuts added in later. So always be sure to check the packaging of anything you eat for allergies to be safe.

Is Hemp Considered a Nut or Seed?

Hemp is technically considered a nut. The definition of nuts and seeds can get complicated, but let’s try to explain.

According to the oxford dictionary, a nut is a fruit with a hard shell and an edible kernel. They are the seeds of plants and trees.

Seeds are the small part of a plant that holds the reproductive characteristics of the plant. In other words, it’s the part of the plant you or I would use in a garden to grow more.

The difference between a seed and a nut lies in its shell. While a nut doesn’t open naturally and has to be cracked, a seed breaks open easily. Hemp hearts are already hulled for you from the hard outer shell of what we call hemp seeds.

People use the word nut often when referring to peanuts, but there are lots of different types of nuts. Peanuts are actually legumes, that is a member of the pea family. If a person is allergic to “nuts” they are allergic to tree nuts and peanut allergy is a separate issue entirely.

All of this gets very confusing, but it’s helpful to know if you think you have a tree nut allergy .

People can be allergic to peanuts, but not tree nuts (like coconut) or seeds like (sesame or sunflower seeds). So what you really need to know is that hemp is not considered a tree nut or a peanut.

Brooke with Honey Aleppo humminghemp hemp hearts

Who Should Eat Hemp Seeds?

Hemp seeds are a superfood that is safe and nutritious for anyone who isn’t allergic. They are loaded with nutrients and minerals that make them outstanding for pregnant women and for children.

Some of the nutrients you can find inside are:

  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Protein
  • Omega fatty acids
  • Zinc
  • Amino acids
  • Iron

This is a shortlist of nutrients; you may find that there are a lot more benefits to eating hemp hearts than you may know.

Are Hemp Seeds an Allergen?

So, can you be allergic to hemp hearts? The answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean a hemp seed allergy is the same as a tree nut or peanut allergen.

A person is rarely allergic to hemp hearts. You will have to be tested for the allergy to know for sure. Until then, read the packaging carefully and be aware of any symptoms that may occur.

Can you be allergic to hemp hearts? Does a nut allergy mean you have a hemp protein allergy? Symptoms and side effects of eating hemp seeds.