It’s that time of year for some Kiwis… when the runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes kick in from seasonal allergies or hay fever. Did you know hay fever affects about 20% of New Zealanders? That’s one in four or 1.25 million Kiwis!
If you’re fed up with your current medication or it’s just not easing that runny nose and sneezing, CBD may be able to help.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is believed to be caused by breathing in plant pollens that are in the air. Pollen counts vary for different plants based on their yearly cycles and are at their worst when spreading their seeds. When people who are allergic to certain pollens breathe them in high numbers, the body treats them as a harmful substance. This leads to an inflammatory response in the body. Check out the NZ Annual Pollen Calendar to find out more!
Inflammation & antihistamines
Over-the-counter antihistamines, the common treatment of hay fever, only manage the symptoms of the issue. They block the effect of histamine, which is released when your body detects something harmful and causes an inflammatory response. This is what creates the stuffy, dazed feeling of swollen sinuses that people who suffer from hay fever are very familiar with. It feels a lot like a cold, but your body’s caught on to pollen rather than a virus.
So what can you do about it?
Hay fever & medicinal cannabis
Two of the top reasons people come to see us at the Cannabis Clinic are for help with inflammatory issues and chronic pain. And these are the two issues that people report when experiencing hay fever!
In our clinical experience, we have seen many people with hay fever be helped by medicinal cannabis. The research is still new but we’re beginning to see some positive studies coming out around the potential effects of cannabis on hay fever.
A 2005 study has shown that CBD may prevent cells from releasing histamines, warding off the reaction to pollen that hay fever sufferers experience. But that’s not all! The study also finds the immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory components of CBD leads to a less strong inflammatory reaction – and therefore less of those uncomfortable hay fever symptoms. Win!
Another study found that CBD effectively reduced airway obstruction and relaxed muscles after allergic guinea pigs consumed allergy-inducing foods. This may be useful to determine whether CBD could be effective to treat hay fever as the body reacts to food allergies the same as it does for pollen allergies.
Are antihistamines or CBD better for hay fever?
At the end of the day, what you choose to put in your body is up to you. Medicinal cannabis is a natural, plant-based medicine and alternative to traditional pharmaceutical drugs like antihistamines. Maybe you find the side effects of antihistamines intolerable or they haven’t worked for you in the past? It might be time for you to start your medicinal cannabis journey and find relief from the symptoms of hay fever!
As for which is better, it’s too soon to tell. Current research isn’t far enough along to make any conclusions yet, but we will find out one day! We just know that in our clinical experience, we’d recommend trying medicinal cannabis. It’s extremely well tolerated by people of all ages and stages, and we’ve seen it help lots of Kiwis with their hay fever.
Can I use antihistamines & CBD together?
The short answer is “unfortunately, no”, and the long answer is “have you heard of the P-450 system?”. Medicinal cannabis inhibits the P-450 system which leads to the slowing of the rate that your body can absorb many common medications, including antihistamines. This means that there will be more of the substance in your system at any given time which can increase the likelihood of experiencing negative side effects, along with other implications.
Our advice is to stick with one or the other to treat your hay fever. If you find the side effects or effectiveness of antihistamines leaving something to be desired, or you want to try a natural alternative, talk to us about trying medicinal cannabis to improve your seasonal allergies today!
Want to find out if medicinal cannabis could help you with hay fever?
Book an initial consultation with one of our great doctors today
Disclaimer – medicinal cannabis and CBD oil are unapproved medicines in NZ which means that there is no conclusive evidence for their effect, apart from Sativex. Many doctors do not routinely prescribe cannabis medicines. The above article was written for general educational purposes and does not intend to suggest that medicinal cannabis can be used to treat any health condition. Please consult with your healthcare provider.