What causes weed sneezing?
It’s springtime and with the improvement in health, some of us can finally go outside without a mask. If it is exciting to breathe deeply, the aromas released by the terpenes of flowers and plants, it means, for those who fight against allergies, that they are going to be subject to many irritants.
Pollen from flowers and herbs often triggers seasonal allergy symptoms like sneezing and red itchy eyes. When it comes to the cannabis plant, there is a lot of research indicating how marijuana can fight allergies as an anti-inflammatory, both topically and for respiratory issues. But there is much less information on how marijuana can cause allergies and why it does.
People who work in highly exposed environments, such as tailors, often report symptoms such as itchy eyes and runny nose when in direct contact with fresh plant material. These symptoms sound like allergic reactions, but there is no clear answer as to the exact compounds in cannabis that could be causing them.
“I can’t say that I have ever had a strain that made me sneeze, even if putting my head in a big bag of Diesel tickles my nose,” says cannabis expert and comedian Ngaio Bealum, from Netflix’s Cooking on High.
The question is as complex as the cannabis plant itself. There are thousands of specific cultivars and dozens of strain families. In each bud there are dozens of aromatic molecules called terpenes, as well as cannabinoids – THC, CBD and other molecules that also determine the effect. Each strain offers a unique chemical fingerprint of compounds to which each person’s immune system responds in a unique way.
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Potential allergens: cannabis pollen, terpenes
Cannabis is a dioecious plant, which means that there are both male and female forms. Male cannabis plants produce pollen, a common cause of seasonal allergies. So it makes sense that cannabis pollen can cause allergic reactions in some people. But unless you’re a breeder, you’re unlikely to come into contact with a lot of cannabis pollen in the wild.
When it comes to what could be causing allergies while breathing, inhaling, ingesting, or touching female marijuana plants and flowers, the conversation becomes much more complicated.
“Like any natural substance, cannabis or the constituents of cannabis can certainly, in some sensitive people, produce allergic symptoms ranging from very mild, such as a sneeze, to more severe skin reactions, or even respiratory reactions,” explains Uwe Blesching. , co-founder and scientific director of Cannakeys, and author of Your Cannabis CBD: THC Ratio.
“Yes, sure, people can be allergic to cannabis, but the challenge you have is to determine if this is a true allergic reaction to cannabis, or a reaction that mimics symptoms of cannabis. allergic type, or an allergic reaction to potential contaminants that have entered the plant. “
Personal chemistry vs. pesticides, fertilizers, mold?
Blesching further explains that allergens associated with exposure to cannabis, such as a rash, could be caused by other underlying causes, such as something the person ate.
They can also be caused by a pesticide, synthetic fertilizer, or a number of different materials that the plant has been covered or absorbed.
If it was possible to reduce the cause of the allergies associated with cannabis to the plant itself, the next step would be to narrow down the choice of the element or elements among the more than 800 natural components of the plant that could cause irritation.
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“At the end of the day, it all depends on the individual’s vulnerability to one or the combination of compounds to which they have been exposed that are the trigger,” says Blesching. “I don’t think we can tell at this point which components are most likely to be the culprits. Terpenes are certainly a top candidate, but rhizomes and cannabinoids could be too. “
When it comes to terpenes, linalool appears to be the most studied for its ability to be a common contact allergen. As for potential pesticides, neem oil used on cannabis to prevent pests could also be a trigger. Studies show that an allergic reaction to cannabis can also be linked to lipid transfer proteins found in cannabis as well as in fruits, vegetables, nuts, pollen and latex. And, of course, smoke in general, or moldy cannabis can also cause unwanted allergic reactions.
A closer look at terpenes
I grew cannabis for the first time during the great lull of 2020 and found that like the fragrant tomatoes that I also grew in my garden, when my arms rubbed against my weed plants, I had a mild rash. Many people who work in the cannabis industry have similar stories and the current studies who examine cannabis allergies primarily focus on people in the industry who have high exposure to plant material for an extended period of time, such as cutters.
” According to my experience, [une réaction allergique au cannabis] depends on your personal constitution rather than individual cultivars ”, explains Sara Payan, responsible for public education at the Apothecarium. “For example, before prepackaged cannabis, we would fill the jars with our bulk stock and every time I touched Dutch Treat my arms would bristle. “