Using CBD (cannabidiol) oil for allergies may improve inflammation and congestion, but research is ongoing. Learn about CBD nasal sprays and topicals for allergies. Does CBD help with mucus? CBD also has anti-bacterial characteristics that can reduce the occurrence of thick mucus that may clog an individual’s sinus passages and make it difficult for them to
What to Know About CBD for Allergies
Cory Martin is the author of seven books including “Love Sick” a memoir about dating, life in Hollywood and dealing with MS. Her essays have appeared online with CNN, HuffPost, Everyday Health, Psychology Today, Folks, The Mighty, and more.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Jurairat J. Molina, MD, MBA is a board-certified allergist who has been practicing in field of allergy and clinical immunology for the past two decades.
Allergies can greatly affect a person’s quality of life, causing symptoms like sneezing, congestion, rash, and swelling. These symptoms can disrupt your daily life, by causing discomfort, sleep loss, and lower productivity at work. If you experience any or all of these symptoms, it’s natural to want to seek relief.
People with allergies may consider CBD (cannabidiol) to help relieve their symptoms. While research into the effects of CBD on allergies is limited, there is evidence that the compound can help relieve pain and inflammation, and mitigate some of the body’s immune responses to allergens.
This article will discuss how CBD can help with allergies, the best types of CBD to use, and any side effects.
Verywell / Danie Drankwalter
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a role in many of the body’s systems and processes, including metabolism, immunity, and the central and peripheral nervous systems. The body produces cannabinoids that are received by cannabinoid receptors to keep the body functioning normally.
Cannabinoids help regulate the immune system by lowering inflammation in the body. When the body’s cannabinoid system is not working properly, inflammatory and immune-related disorders, such as allergies, can occur.
Because it’s a cannabinoid, CBD may be helpful in relieving allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, congestion, and runny nose.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, otherwise known as marijuana. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the other cannabinoid compound derived from the cannabis plant, CBD is non-psychoactive.
While CBD and THC are the most commonly discussed compounds from the cannabis plant, more than 100 other cannabinoids have been identified.
CBD vs. Hemp Seed Oil
The cannabis sativa plant has been cultivated in two different ways: “drug hemp” (marijuana) and “industrial hemp” (hemp). Drug hemp contains high levels of THC, whereas industrial hemp has a THC level less than 0.3%.
Hemp plants grown for recreational or medicinal use have high THC and high CBD levels.
Industrial hemp is legal throughout the United States and is grown for fiber, paper, hemp seeds, construction materials, textiles, and hempseed oil.
Like CBD oil, hempseed oil has been touted for its health benefits. Hempseed oil is known for its nutritional value, as it contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Hempseed oil also contains polyphenols, tocopherols, proteins, and carbohydrates, which have nutritional benefits.
While you may seek CBD or hemp to treat your allergies, be aware it’s possible to develop an allergy to cannabis itself. Hemp allergy is similar to other allergies, like pollen allergies. Symptoms can range from skin irritations, like rashes or hives, to respiratory afflictions such as asthma, congestion, and runny nose.
Though more research needs to be done, smoking marijuana or hemp may increase the likelihood of developing asthma and other allergic diseases. If you have allergic asthma, you may want to avoid smoking the compound.
Allergy Symptoms and Triggers
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to a foreign substance that is normally harmless in most people. Common allergens include, but are not limited to:
- Dust mites
- Pets and farm animals
- Insect stings and bites
- Contact allergens, such as metals for fragrance ingredients
Many allergies are triggered by situations and environmental factors, such as a bee sting or eating certain foods.
Seasonal allergies can be triggered by pollen in the air when plants are blooming. Pet allergies can be triggered upon entering someone’s home where there is pet dander in the air.
Any of these types of triggers can cause symptoms. Common allergy symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Runny nose, coughing, and sneezing
- Breathing problems
- Watery or swollen eyes
- Rash or hives
- Stomach or bowel problems
When to Seek Emergency Help
If you experience difficulty breathing or your throat begins to close or swell, call 911 immediately. This can be a sign of a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.
CBD for Allergies
While research into the effects of CBD on allergies has been limited mainly to small studies and animal studies, there is promise that CBD can help mitigate or eliminate allergic symptoms and reactions.
CBD is known to work on one of the pathways of the ECS that produces histamine-activating cells in the body. There is some evidence that CBD could greatly reduce the amount of histamine produced in an allergic reaction, which would reduce congestion.
The ECS helps regulate and control immune function in the body, and more recent research suggests that the ECS also plays a role in maintaining skin health.
Some studies suggest that CBD applied directly to the skin can help with rashes and other inflammatory conditions of the skin, such as eczema, but further research is still needed.
What Are the Side Effects of CBD?
Studies have shown that CBD is relatively safe to consume, however these studies are limited. Further research is needed to determine the effects of CBD on the entire body and its effects over long-term consumption.
The most common side effects of CBD are:
- Drowsiness or lethargy
- Mood changes and irritability
- Lower appetite and weight loss
Best CBD for Allergies
The most common methods for consuming CBD for allergies and inflammation are topical treatments, herbal extracts, and edibles. Choosing a method depends on the type of allergy symptom being treated.
For rashes and skin inflammation, a topical cream or ointment may be best. For hay fever and other full-body symptoms, an herbal extract, edible, or nasal spray might work best. A nasal CBD spray may be beneficial, as the lining of the nose is thin, and CBD can pass directly into the blood, which produces faster effects.
The other factor to consider is the type of CBD: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or an isolate.
- Full-spectrum CBDuses all extracts of the cannabis plant, which includes CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and other cannabinoids. The THC concentration in full-spectrum is 0.3% or less.
- Broad-spectrum CBD contains CBD and other cannabinoids, but it has no THC.
- A CBD isolate is pure CBD with no other parts of the cannabis plant.
The “Entourage Effect”
Some evidence suggests that broad- or full-spectrum CBD produces better benefits, due to the synergistic effects of the other compounds within the spectrum, including THC. This is known as the “entourage effect.”
CBD dosage will depend on the delivery method chosen and what symptom is being treated.
Doses ranging from 300 mg to 600 mg have been shown to help treat anxiety disorders. Another study showed that a dosage of 25 mg helped improve poor sleep.
There is very little regulation on the dosing of CBD, so you may need to experiment until you find the right dose for your body and symptoms. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about appropriate dosing.
How to Buy CBD
Buying CBD will depend on where you live. In states where marijuana, and thus CBD derived from the “drug hemp,” is legal, you can find CBD at a dispensary. In states where marijuana is not legal, you will have to buy CBD that is derived from “industrial hemp.” As with all supplements, it is best to research the product to make sure it’s good quality.
A Word From Verywell
While much research still needs to be done on CBD and its effects, there is promise that it could be useful for treating allergy symptoms. If you are considering taking CBD to help alleviate symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider to discuss the best options. In the meantime, remember that there are many over-the-counter antihistamines that can help with seasonal and year-round allergies.
Frequently Asked Questions
CBD is not a decongestant, but it is theorized to work on the endocannabinoid system, which can reduce inflammation and congestion.
Using CBD for allergy treatment can be used the same way as other allergy medications, though it is important to note that the FDA has not approved CBD use for allergies. If you choose to try CBD to help manage your allergy symptoms, you can use a nasal spray, edible, or topical treatment.
Allergic asthma can worsen in people who are allergic to CBD, or the marijuana/hemp plants and their seeds. A severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can occur.
Terpenes are compounds in plants that cause their fragrance. Cannabis is known for its fragrance and therefore its terpenes. Terpenes are found in full- and broad-spectrum CBD. In one study on the effects of CBD for epilepsy, it was discovered that the full- and broad-spectrum versions had better outcomes, thus suggesting that terpenes play an important part in CBD’s effectiveness.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Lu H-C, Mackie K. An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system. Biological Psychiatry. 2016;79(7):516-525. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028
Decuyper II, Van Gasse AL, Cop N, et al. Cannabis sativa allergy: looking through the fog. Allergy. 2017;72(2):201-206. doi:10.1111/all.13043
Chatkin JM, Zani-Silva L, Ferreira I. Cannabis-associated asthma and allergies. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. 2019;56:196–206. doi:10.1007/s12016-017-8644-1
Information NC for B, Pike USNL of M 8600 R, MD B, USA 20894. Allergies: overview. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2020.
Baswan SM, Klosner AE, Glynn K, et al. Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:927-942. doi:10.2147/CCID.S286411
Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a cannabis sativa constituent. Curr Drug Saf. 2011;6(4):237-249. doi:10.2174/157488611798280924
Bruni N, Della Pepa C, Oliaro-Bosso S, Pessione E, Gastaldi D, Dosio F. Cannabinoid delivery systems for pain and inflammation treatment. Molecules. 2018;23(10):2478. doi:10.3390/molecules23102478
Cather JC, Cather JC. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2020;33(3):376-379. doi:10.1080/08998280.2020.1775437
Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: what you need to know. Updated November 2019.
Does CBD help with mucus?
CBD also has anti-bacterial characteristics that can reduce the occurrence of thick mucus that may clog an individual’s sinus passages and make it difficult for them to breathe. CBD works because it targets the inflammation specifically, helping to reduce the symptoms that manifest from this condition.
Is CBD oil an antibiotic?
Cannabis Compound CBD Acts as Helper to Boost Antibiotic Effectiveness. Research by a University of Southern Denmark team has found that the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) may act as a helper compound to boost the effectiveness of antibiotics against drug-resistant Gram-positive bacteria.
Does CBD oil help fight colds?
You may want to reach for the CBD instead of the THC. But before you go straight for the THC, it is important to note that CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is legal in all 50 states, is anti-bacterial—which means that it won’t help fight the source of the common cold or flu, which are virus infections.
Does CBD oil work for colds?
While CBD is no penicillin, some doctors now the cannabinoid can be used to combat cold symptoms as a supplement. CBD, a known anti-inflammatory, can lower inflammation and irritation caused by a sore throat.
Does CBD Oil cause sore throat?
Sore throat can be a symptom of local irritation, pharyngitis or laryngitis. Oil taken under a tongue should cause the irritation and soreness; however, sometimes it can be mild hypersensitivity of the area to the product. In your case you can try mix your oil with food and swallow it, or you can try pills with CBD.
Why can’t I get high when I’m sick?
If your throat and lungs are already irritated, smoking may exacerbate your discomfort. Both smoking weed and common illnesses such as the flu can cause fatigue, chills, and headaches. You may feel these effects more intensely when you’re sick.
What is CBD Oil Good For?
CBD oil has been studied for its potential role in easing symptoms of many common health issues, including anxiety, depression, acne and heart disease. For those with cancer, it may even provide a natural alternative for pain and symptom relief.