Allergies are your body’s way of showing that your immunity is functional! While it may feel like a genetic limitation at times, as these allergies are often inherited from one’s parents, it’s something that also warns us of invasion by certain foreign elements that can potentially harm our body.
Sometimes, though, our immune system can go on an overdrive, making us sick, unable to breathe, and erupt in ugly rashes – all things that we could really do without.
Recently, the World Allergy Organization (WAO) held its World Allergy Week, from June 28 to July 4, 2020, to spread awareness about various allergic diseases and related disorders, and the scientific research conducted in these areas. Doctors and the scientists at this event addressed the need for timely intervention and boosting the immune system to reduce the risks of contracting more severe diseases.
Allergic reactions: Addressing the Root Cause
Allergies or allergic reactions could be caused by a bug bite, or allergens, like dander, pollens, certain drugs, and even some foods. Environmental changes, like in humidity, temperatures, etc, or stress could also aggravate a patient’s condition.
We’re all too familiar with the runny nose, itchiness, skin rashes, sneezing, and wheezing. These are normal responses to common allergens that seem to wreak havoc on some people, leaving the rest unaffected.
In some cases, the allergic reactions take on a more severe form. for instance, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), autoimmune diseases, and eczema.
Usually, the nose, sinuses, ears, lungs, skin, and the mucosal lining of the stomach and the windpipe (trachea) are the primary targets of allergic reactions.
CBD for Allergies! Why Are We Talking About It?
The first line of treatment for allergies is a course of anti-histamines. These medications restrict/block the release of histamines (organic nitrogenous compounds), produced by the cells of the human immune system in response to an injury or damage by microbial/particulate invasion (allergens). Their release triggers allergic reactions and inflammations in different body parts. In some severe cases, corticosteroids or allergy shots/drops may also be required.
While being quite effective in warding off allergic reactions, they all come with numerous side-effects and disadvantages.
As for anti-histamines, the side-effects start with drowsiness and end with blurred vision and inability to urinate. Corticosteroids also have a whole set of adverse effects on the musculoskeletal, metabolic, endocrine, dermatologic, ophthalmological, gastrointestinal as well as on the neuropsychiatric system of our body. Besides being very expensive, allergy shots, although very effective and almost essential to save lives, can cause some adverse effects, including allergic reaction to the shot itself, i.e. the area where the needle was injected.
While leaving allergies untreated can have dangerous consequences, like chronic allergies that would require immunotherapy, lowering of the quality of life, and even cause death, such adverse effects from the use of conventional treatments, coupled with the fact that these agents only provide temporary relief, many have switched to safer, milder, and permanent alternatives to improve their quality of lives.
One of them is cannabidiol – a cannabis-derived chemical compound – that has been scientifically proven to have some effects on the human immune system while being comparatively safe.
CBD’s mechanism of action
Cannabinoids, both extraneous (CBD, THC) and endogenous (anandamide), activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (which works in tandem with the nervous system). These, in turn, modulate the immune system’s responses.
Over the past couple of decades, numerous studies have found that cannabinoids have different levels of anti-inflammatory properties, meaning they can alleviate swellings and lower the effects of the causal factors.
Even though THC has this effect – at least in most cases – it also gives users the “marijuana high”, whereas CBD, being a non-psychedelic, non-psychotropic compound, has no such adverse effects. It does, however, have all the good ones – even if they are mild in most cases.
That is because CBD does not directly bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Instead, it prods the endocannabinoids and signaling pathways to do their work more efficiently.
How does it work?
Owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD, directly or indirectly, causes the death of affected immune system cells (apoptosis), thus suppressing their action. It then inhibits the signals from reaching the immune system cells, before they can react to the invasion or injury, followed by providing a protective shield (neuroprotective) over the body, hindering any further damage.
By promoting the release of anandamide and inhibiting its breakdown in the body by the fatty acid amide hydrolase enzyme, it alleviates the pain. Here too, CBD does not bind with ECS receptors. Instead, it binds with other neurological receptors, like the 5-HT1A and α3 glycine receptors, to relieve pain.
As a result, the pain and inflammation subside, and the body starts to heal from all previous attacks or injuries.
This is why a lot of people have, over the years, turned to CBD to alleviate their symptoms and find relief – effectively and safely.
Owing to the increasing popularity of these benefits, some people, with some severe allergies, have also tried CBD and have found satisfactory results from its use.
CBD For Allergies: What the Science Says
Numerous studies have, over the years, found evidence of CBD playing a role in inhibiting the release of histamines from the cells. Additionally, CBD has also been seen to play a role in regulating the immune system.
Researchers are constantly trying to establish CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties through various experiments, trials, and reviews.
You will notice in the two studies mentioned below the considerable progress made over the years – from considering CBD as a potential anti-inflammatory drug in 2009 to developing the right model of CBD delivery system for a greater impact on the body in 2018.
- In a 2009 review, published in Future Medicinal Chemistry, a group of scientists studied the use of endocannabinoids as a “potent treatment modality against inflammatory disorders”, concluding that cannabinoids indeed have the potential to be used as a “novel anti-inflammatory agents”.
- Later in a 2018 review, published in the Molecules, another group of researchers recorded some new developments in the “cannabinoid delivery field”, particularly concerning pain and inflammation treatments. The research spoke of a variety of modern delivery methods of cannabinoids, including transdermal, oral sprays, and nanotechnology-driven tinctures, and weighed the options for CBD (among other cannabis compounds) to act as a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
Several other studies have provided shreds of evidence that CBD can positively influence the human immune system.
- A 2018 study, published by the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics exhibited for the first time, “the anti-inflammatory property of CBD in an experimental model of ACD (allergic contact dermatitis)”. This study sheds light on the inner workings of CBD and its indirect interaction with the ECS receptors and direct activation of other non-ECS receptors to reduce the production of certain signaling proteins in the body, thereby displaying anti-inflammatory properties.
- In a 2020 review, published in the journal Antioxidants (Basel), the main biological effects of CBD, mainly its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, were studied. However, the paper also pointed to CBD’s possible drug interactions and negative impacts on the liver that need to be considered before using or prescribing it as a potential treatment method.
- In another 2015 paper, published in Mediators of Inflammation, CBD was found to lowers the activity of the cell signaling proteins that get triggered by allergens. This indicated that CBD could act as a novel treatment for asthma.
- In a 2019 paper, published in the European Journal of Pharmacology, CBD therapy was seen to lower inflammatory responses in the lungs and airways, thus negating the circumstances that usually lead to the development of allergic asthma.
CBD For Allergies: Viable Alternative or a Scam?
First things first. CBD DOES NOT CURE Allergies. Studies show that CBD only has immunosuppressive and neuroprotective properties that enable it to directly or indirectly fight allergies.
But then, neither can any other allergy medications. Anti-allergy medications don’t address the root cause of the problem either.
Allergies are indeed the human body’s defense mechanism – a trait that is inherited from our ancestors.
While in those earlier ages, when medical science had not existed, this trait helped humans stay alive. However, now with the advancements in this area, allergies are a nuisance that we have to endure.
That’s why most medications today still try to only get rid of the symptoms, not the root cause of allergies.
However, traditional medications and therapies have loads of adverse effects that many find difficult to deal with. On the other hand, CBD has offered up a safer, yet effective option.
Nevertheless, one must remember that he/she should NEVER go overboard with the CBD dosage in hopes of finding instant relief.
Cannabinoids simply don’t work that way! They have side-effects too!
Lastly, we’d want to add that it’s imperative for anyone, looking for better options of treatment for their allergies, to first consult their doctor before self-administering CBD.