allergic reaction to hemp seeds
The good news is that hemp is verified gluten free. It is also reckoned to be complete protein. Hemp Protein contains edisten, which is similar to the human body’s own globular proteins found in the blood, hemp is extremely digestible. So not only is hemp a good substitute for other grains, it is also a better protein in many ways.
Allergic Reaction to Hemp Foods
Allergies and food intolerance seem to be on the rise. Poor physical responses to food are frustrating it makes something that is necessary and should be enjoyable — eating — uncomfortable and possibly dangerous.
One of the unintended consequences of food intolerance is that it makes people think more about the food and start to dig into the science. This is a positive over the long run, but for most consumers this is a bit daunting as food science is always evolving and food reporting through the media is sometimes not as up to date as it can be.
Some of the most common food allergies include: Eggs, Milk, Mustard, Peanuts, Seafood (Fish, Crustaceans and Shellfish), Sesame, Soy, Sulphites (a common food additive, usually used as a preservative such as for dried fruit), Tree Nuts, and Wheat (Gluten). While children are very susceptible, many allergies can be outgrown as the body’s immune system learns to respond to specific proteins. However, some allergies such as peanuts are very persistent, and are difficult for most people to outgrow.
Is Hemp an Allergen?
Hemp foods are undergoing a contemporary renaissance. The hemp food industry has expanding steadily for the last 15 years, driving acreage and building the case for hemp’s cultivation in the United States. In today’s market, hemp foods are available in many whole forms including hemp oil and shelled hemp seed as well as ready-to-eat and lightly processed products including milk, fiber, breads, bars, granola, cereal, ice cream, and more. One cultural paradox is that while hemp seeds have a long global history of human consumption, a lot of this tradition has been lost due to cannabis prohibition. As a result hemp foods are still relatively unknown and so we have people with no modern cultural connections with hemp trying it in their diets for the first time. It’s understandable there may be concerns about this “new” food because of its relative novelty. But like the tomato and potato, continental foods that went global, hemp has a lot to offer the world’s diet.
For those who might need a recap, the skinny on hemp is that it’s a great source of easily digestible vegetable protein, dietary fiber and healthy culinary oil packed full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
The good news to date is that hemp has no documented allergies. However, there is no reason to suspect that there will not be reported allergies in the future. People being a diverse lot, we pretty much have to wait and see.
Further, there is a difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. True allergies involve a failure in the immune system and can create systematic shock and be life threatening, while a food intolerance derives from poor digestibility or adverse reaction. Only 1-4% of the population has a true food allergy, but many more are food intolerant. One theory is that food intolerances are increasing as more people become reliant on processed foods in their diets. Food engineering to increase gluten content, increased fructose levels, as well as preservatives to add shelf life and other additives are developments that the body has not learned to cope with.
After 15 years, we’ve learned a lot about hemp and food reactions. Here’s a few common experiences ones worth talking about a bit more.
Hemp is an excellent source of dietary fiber, over competing bran, whole grains and peas, and some hemp food products like protein powder contain very high amounts, with 20 grams of fiber for every serving (30 grams is the recommended daily allowance). Given widespread reliance on highly processed ready-to-eat & food-in-a- box diets, a lot of people aren’t used to having that much good fiber. So it can be a small shock to the body. Some people find it makes their bowel movements more regular.
Fiber should be added gradually to the diet. The body needs a bit of time to produce the right amount of natural digestive bacteria. People aged fifty plus need less fiber — as a rule of thumb 80% of amount recommended daily allowance is considered sufficient for most.
Gluten is a common protein found in wheat and other grains like barley and rye. Bakers prize it as it helps dough stay together. However, the protein is an allergen hazardous to people who suffer from Celiac disease, which is a genetic condition related to the small intestine that makes such a protein indigestible.The broader health effects are challenging, as many celiacs risk losing important nutrients (including fiber) in their diets. While Celiac disease is uncommon, and roughly affects 1% of the population, it’s reasonable to assume that many people are undiagnosed. Complicating the issue Gluten has also been identified as a health culprit in the larger population, through such popular books as Wheat Belly, and the trendy proliferation of gluten-free diets, but the science on these sort of claims is disputed. However, given what we know about food intolerances, there is probably something to chew on here.
The good news is that hemp is verified gluten free. It is also reckoned to be complete protein. Hemp Protein contains edisten, which is similar to the human body’s own globular proteins found in the blood, hemp is extremely digestible. So not only is hemp a good substitute for other grains, it is also a better protein in many ways.
Do You Know More?
This is a short article, and we’re really just touching on the subject. Food and diet can be a very personal experience, and people have diverse needs and conditions, reactions and preferences. Global Hemp is interested in hearing more about folk’s reactions to including hemp in their diet: whether negative or positive. Let us know how hemp has worked for you by commenting below.
About the Author
Arthur Hanks is a Canadian writer who has been covering the growing hemp industry on a professional basis since 1997. He has contributed to numerous farm and nonfarm publications regarding the many aspects of industrial hemp. In 1999, he started the Hemp Commerce & Farming Report, later renamed The Hemp Report, as an online magazine to serve and promote the North American Hemp Industry.
Is there hypocrisy going on here? Can you be allergic to hemp seeds, milk, or oil?
Can You Have a Hemp Seed Allergy? Watch For These Symptoms
Admittedly that rate could be underestimated, but even if you tripled or quadrupled it, you’re still talking about only 1 out of 25 people who have a problem with this legume (yes, peanuts are actually a legume and not a nut). Whatever the case, it’s definitely a low number.
Yet it seems like half the people you meet claim to be allergic to peanuts.
But when it comes to hemp hearts, you never hear anyone claim that. Literally, never.
Is there hypocrisy going on here? Can you be allergic to hemp seeds, milk, or oil?
While peanuts may be exaggerated, the opposite problem seems to be happening with the hemp protein allergy.
Yes, it’s possible
First of all, what is a food allergy anyway?
It’s an autoimmune response to a protein/pollen in something you eat. Your body misidentifies a harmless substance as a threat and goes berserk trying to stop it.
How berserk (or not) the reaction is can vary greatly.
For some, it may be side effects which are more of a nuisance. For others, it could lead to life threatening anaphylactic shock.
In theory at least, you could be allergic to any food. However because it is the proteins and pollen which we are allergic to, those foods with the highest amounts have become the focus versus something like an apple.
It’s possible to be allergic to an apple, but it has no pollen and so little protein content, any reaction may be too muted to even be detectable.
Now hemp is a rich source of protein, so on that basis alone, it deserves the same scrutiny as other seeds, nuts, grains, milk and eggs. Because if you are allergic to hemp, you’re consuming a lot of that plant’s protein whenever you eat it.
There are 10 grams of protein per 170 calorie serving. That’s 1 ounce of hemp hearts, which is about 3 tablespoons worth.
That’s an even higher amount of protein than what’s found in peanuts – 8 grams for the same weight – so it definitely warrants investigation.
Plus, hemp comes from an extra-allergen part of the Cannabis sativa plant; the flowering buds atop the plant. That means they come in contact with pollen.
The drug marijuana also comes from the same Cannabis sativa species, as well as the same part of the plant (the bud). The difference is that those are bred to have THC content of 10% or more, while the edible form has 0.3% or less.
That’s why selling seeds as food is 100% legal, so long as they come from the industrial version of the plant versus the drug version.
What prompted this topic?
This topic didn’t come up randomly. Rather, it was because one person at Superfoodly has experienced hemp allergy symptoms as “as long as I can remember” whenever he ate the seeds.
The reaction is by no means severe, but it’s the exact same symptom – in a much milder version – as what happens if he eats a cashew. That’s a tree nut he’s highly allergic to.
A specific area in his throat under his Adam’s apple would become itchy and also trigger asthmatic symptoms. He does have asthma regardless, but only cashews would cause that specific area in his throat to react. Not his asthma or any other foods could cause that type of reaction… until hemp came along.
He says the adverse reaction from hemp is a far cry from the magnitude experienced with cashews. Those are a definite allergen for him; medically diagnosed with testing and obviously apparent.
With hemp, the itchy and asthmatic side effects are not enough for him to forego it completely. However he does minimize consumption and stays away from concentrated sources, like hemp protein and heaping raw hulled hearts on oatmeal or salads.
For most processed products – like the Kind protein bar pictured above – they love to hype up the hemp it contains, but in reality it’s very little.
Those balls which many people assume are seeds actually are “pea crisp” (pea protein isolate, rice flour, rice starch).
It seems that the Kind Strong bars sprinkle the seeds in there more for marketing purposes, rather than as a primary ingredient. He still eats products like that on occasion, usually with no noticeable reaction.
Is there an allergy test for hemp seeds? A standardized extract for doctors to use “off the shelf” doesn’t exist. You definitely won’t find it within a standard skin prick panel, which tests up to 40 of the more common allergens at once, such as peanuts and cat dander.
That being said, an allergist can still check using a custom test. Though outside of medical studies (discussed below) we haven’t heard of anyone doing that. The person here with the suspected allergy says for him “it’s not bad enough to bother.”
What the research says
Some websites promoting the plant claim that allergies to hemp do not exist.
That simply is not true.
In a 2015 edition of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, they published a piece of research titled: Cannabis sativa: the unconventional “weed” allergen (1).
Fast forwarding to the first sentence of the paper’s conclusion, this sums up the situation quite well:
“Although still relatively uncommon, allergic disease associated with C. sativa [hemp plant] exposure and use has been reported with increased frequency.”
While you’re certainly not expected to know what the following compounds are, we’re listing here the actual things cited as the probable allergens in the plant:
- Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive agent)
- Nonspecific lipid transfer protein (Can s 3)
- Thaumatin-like protein
- Ribulose-1,5-biphosphonate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO)
- Oxygen-evolving enhancer protein 2
So there you have it… not only does it exist, but researchers have even been able to hone in on exactly what compounds in the plant are responsible.
Which parts are most allergic?
While you can be allergic to any part of a plant, as mentioned the worst offenders tend to be the parts which have the most protein and/or pollen.
Since the seeds check both of those boxes, they are a prime culprit.
Hemp oil allergies would be unlikely – refined oil is 100% fat, which is not an allergen. It would be the 0.01% or less of other stuff contaminating it that you could have a reaction too… which is an exponentially lower concentration than what you get when you eat the seeds!
That’s why in Canada, for example, enhanced allergen labeling isn’t required when a food oil is highly refined. Tree nut, fish, soybean, and sesame oils are not required to have that type of warning (2). Only peanut oil requires it. They say this…
“The very low levels of protein present within highly refined oil are not considered, based on the available science, to pose a risk to the health of individuals with food allergies.”
If you know someone who eats the hearts without problem, but claims to be allergic to hemp oil… to be frank, they’re probably delusional. At least if you’re talking about the typical food grade oil that’s refined and sold in a bottle.
Being allergic to hemp lotion and experiencing hives isn’t that unusual of complaint. If unrefined oil (or lightly refined) is used in skin care products, then it would contain more of the problematic compounds. However, a hives reaction is more likely caused by one or more of the other ingredients in the lotion.
What is hemp milk made from? The hearts are ground to a fine powder and diluted with water. Any chunky residue is then strained, leaving you with a plant-based milk.
For that reason, having a hemp milk allergy would be expected if you have reactions from eating the seed.
Can you be allergic to marijuana? Absolutely. It too comes from the flowering buds of the plant, albeit the THC-rich version of it. Furthermore, it may even be worse than food sources. THC is called out first on the list of potential allergens. The edible seeds contain at least 97% less THC. Often there’s none at all, since they have been rinsed and processed.
Side effects of a hemp allergy
Immunoblotting showing IgE binding to a 6-kd protein in the extract of raw hulled and roasted unhulled hempseed, which was consumed by a patient who experienced anaphylactic shock.
An allergy manifests itself differently depending upon the person’s unique biology. Those allergic to eating hemp may experience one or more of the following side effects:
- asthma – difficulty breathing (dyspnea), chest tightness, and abnormal spirometric results (from a lung function test)
- allergic rhinitis – nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing
- eye irritation – itchiness, swelling, puffiness
- conjunctivitis – pink eye, bloodshot eyes
- hives – skin rash, pale red bumps or plaques
- anaphylaxis – anaphylaxis from ingested hempseed has been confirmed (3)
How common is it?
It might not be as rare as people make it out to be.
Before even getting into the science, we can tell you that since first reporting on this, we have received an overwhelming number of comments from people who either suffered a reaction themselves or had someone close to them experience it. Sure, some cases may be circumstantial, but many sound like they legitimately have reason to be confident that it was the hemp which caused it.
Considering the increased legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug, as well as the “new” found use of it as a food source, within two to three decades it may very well become a major food allergen in the same league as tree nuts and other common culprits.
A study in 2011 looked at 340 patients, 140 of which who were marijuana users with asthmatic symptoms (4). Among them:
- 53.2% (74 people) had a positive skin prick test to the leaf extract of cannabis
- 34.3% (48 people) has a positive serum specific IgE test
How about all of us who do not smoke pot and only eat hemp seed, do we have anything to worry about?
Even in the United States, environmental exposure of pollen does occur, especially in more rural areas where the plant may still be found growing wild. Until it became illegal, marijuana grew freely throughout the country. The antique postcard pictured above shows a field of it growing in Kentucky, but that was back when a stamp costed a penny.
In a 1983 study, an allergy doctor practicing in Arizona and New Mexico tested 129 patients by skin for both marijuana pollen and tobacco leaf (5).
The results? 250% higher rate of allergic reactions to marijuana pollen versus tobacco (63 and 18 patients, respectively).
A 2009 study done in India found that 8.3% of patients who had a nasobronchial allergy tested positive in a cannabis skin prick test (6). That was more than double the rate for animal dander at 3.1%, but inline with pollens overall at 7.8%.
Worse yet, if one develops an allergy to the cannabis plant, there is evidence to suggest that it might lead to cross-reactivity and the development of other food allergies.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported how a 28 year old smoker developed progressively worse allergy symptoms from smoking marijuana, which was believed to cause (7):
“Without previous food allergies, the patient went on to develop urticaria [hives] to peach peel, food pollen syndrome to several foods (apple, almonds, eggplant, and chestnut), and anaphylaxis to tomato, pepper, and fig. Immunoblotting identified a 9-kDa lipid transfer protein (LTP), speculated as the reason for cross-reactivity and development of his food allergies.”
Regarding tomato, there appears to be some sort of connection. In the 2011 study mentioned earlier, those who were sensitive to tomato had:
- 92% positive readings for cannabis skin prick tests
- 68% positive for serum IGE tests
Giving up this plant as a dietary source would be no problem for most people. But how tragic would it be if it led to cross-reactivity with tomato, triggering an allergy to that too? Some of us here at Superfoodly would rather die than give up pizza for the rest of our lives!
Should you be worried?
The evidence seems to suggest the bigger problem may be for the people who are smoking it, not eating it.
It appears the smokers are the ones who are developing higher rates of being allergic to the plant.
For those who only eat hemp seeds and/or are environmentally exposed to the plant’s pollen in the air, the prevalence of problematic side effects seems to be quite minimal.
Yes, even for those who were not noted for smoking, some studies have shown a relatively high percentage of positives on skin tests. However as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says (8):
“A positive test result for food allergy is not, in and of itself, diagnostic for food allergy.”
The Food Allergy Center at the University of Michigan describes diagnosis this way (9):
“By itself, the positive result just indicates that your body has made allergic antibodies, called IgE, to a specific food. This is called “sensitization,” and by itself is not enough for a diagnosis. Your allergist will use your medical history, a physical exam and his own specialized training to interpret your results.”
Since not many people experience any noticeable side effects from eating hemp – yet they do with marijuana such as blood shot eyes – the conclusion may be that it is actually the THC which is the most problematic allergen in the plant. As it is the THC content which is the major difference between the food and the drug.
Sure, one is being ingested while the other is typically being smoked, but even pot brownies are known to cause bloodshot eyes… which reinforces the THC hypothesis.
Alternatives if you have symptoms
If you think you have reactions from eating the seeds, then compare hemp vs. whey vs. pea vs. rice. vs. pumpkin protein. Maybe one of those others is a better fit for you.
As far as alternatives nuts and seeds to use on your food, it’s hard to beat the health benefits of pistachios which most people don’t know about.
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I just experienced a severe allergic reaction to CBD oil … which comes from the hemp plant. I took it in capsule form … heard it could help with pain and inflammation.
About an hour after taking it the room started spinning, my blood pressure surged (thought my head would explode), my face was hot and flushed, my heart was palpitating. This continued for 6 hours … it came in waves. The most terrifying thing ever. After this episode, I was reminded of a time maybe 6 years ago … I ate some hemp seeds with milk (first time) … within minutes of finishing, my stomach hurt and I violently threw them up. I just thought it was a coincidence. Now, I believe my body was probably rejecting them … I definitely am allergic to hemp.
No more hemp for me. Shared this story in case it could be of help to someone else.
I have recently started using hemp oil for the CBD benefits. The first product I tried – a measured spray – caused tingling and a slight swelling of the lips. – it contained citris oil and I know from past testing and experience the oil in the pealing is what I react to. I changed to a product without the citris oil but after about a week I again started having the stinging lips. Not as bad. I sure would like to know exactly what I am reacting too! Thanks for sharing your story
Seemingly out of nowhere I was getting severe hives. It would move from my arms to my legs, and on the worst days my whole body was covered in red raised welts. It felt like my blood was boiling. I recently started to put hemp seeds on my cereal for extra protein and my husband suggested I remove them from my diet. The day I stopped eating hemp seeds, the hives stopped. No more hemp seeds for me ?
I stumbled across this article looking for answers to my allergic reaction. The only new food introduced to my system was hemp hearts in both scenarios.
Two nights ago I made a bowl of cereal and added hemp hearts to it. Shortly after I had really intense stomach pain, I had a fever, face/neck/ears went red and started to burn/itch, and my chest felt funny. After about half an hour I puked and the stomach pain stopped and I went to bed. I chalked it up to my hiatus hernia and me potentially eating too much that day, the icing was a mystery to me. This morning I made myself a bowl of cereal with hemp hearts again and I noticed my lip started to feel a little swollen. Then the stomach pain, my face went red, weird feeling in chest, fever, and itchy all over. Eventually I puked and the effects subsided.
I have to say though, this morning I had a larger serving size then the other night and the allergic reaction was less severe, so there could be a chance I can introduce it a tiny bit at a time to overcome the allergy. =)
I’ve just been hospitalised after eating hemp protein. Had 2tsp in my normal muesli. Within 10 mins I felt really sick and my hand started itching. Itching then spread to my face and neck.. then my eyes and whole face started to swell. I took an antihistamine but within 20 mins of eating I couldn’t stand or breathe. Luckily I called and ambulance and they gave me oxygen, a large dose of antihistamine and hydrocortisone to get rid of the itchiness. I was taken to hospital and it took 3hrs for the main symptoms to subside. Scary!
Such as shame as I wanted to make hemp milk etc but will have to stay away from hemp altogether.
Thank you for publishing this article. I have just figured out that the hemp protein/hemp seed shake that I make and consume everyday at work is causing sinus congestion, post nasal drip, & sneezing leading me to snore at night. No more hemp for me!
A friend of mines said have you ever tried hemp seeds. I said no, what are they? He then said to me that they were good for the heart and good for me as a whole. I looked at the bag and read the ingredients and no where on it did it say anything about tree nuts which I’m allergic to. I grabbed the bag and poured a bunch in my hand and tossed them in my mouth. As I began to chew them I started to get that itchy feeling in my throat. I started to panic and looked at the ingredients again and began to drink some water to wash it down. What happened next was unbelievable. I started itching in my throat, eyes, hands and as I rubbed my eyes, I noticed they were bloodshot red. Now I’ve had breakouts before but nothing that happened this fast. In less that 10 minutes my eyes were damn near closed shut. I looked like I was in a fight with Mike Tyson and I never put my hands up. I tried to take Benadryl to clear it up but it wasn’t working fast enough. My coworkers were running around trying to help me before my good friend and boss said “Keith go to the hospital please bro”. From the tone in his voice I could tell he was very concerned for my health. My boy George said let’s go and we went straight to the hospital. When I walked in and the staff saw my face they rushed me into a room like I was the Potus and began working on me. There were like 30 people in the room looking at me and trying to figure out what to administer to me to get me back to normal. After about 2 hours they said “we’re keeping you overnight in the Intensive Care Unit”. I’m like nah I should be good in a few hours and there’s no need to keep me. They were not having it. After I really felt better I realized that I could’ve died this day just from eating a few seeds. God wasn’t ready for me because he allowed everything to go smoothly with the recovery and time it took to get to the hospital. No more hemp seeds for me ever. It happened 4 days ago and my eyes are just now going down to normal.
My throat itches every time I eat hemp seeds. But I like the benefits of eating them and the symptoms are not life threatening to me. I like to eat them straight out of the bag. This allows me to reduce my cholesterol and fat consumption as I try to reduce meat intake.
Additives in non dairy milks are making me feel unwell. Now I’m not sure if it’s also hemp seeds that are making me feel unwell. A friend of mine had a violent reaction to hemp milk.
I was planning on making my own hemp milk to bypass the toxic additives, but I’m in two minds after reading this.
I took a taste of hemp hearts sample at Costco. About 10 minutes later I started feeling warm and my throat dry. By the time I got home 15 minutes later my throat was closing and my face swollen. I also get hives if I touch pot and then rub my eyes or skin. That I acquired after a solid 10 years w/o ever experiencing any issues.
My husband was doing the cross fit thing and began looking for another source of protein to add to his diet. I read about hemp and is seemed an easy way to get it. He added it to his morning smoothie and mentioned that he didn’t feel great after several uses. Then one day after consuming his usual smoothing he became violently ill, stomach pain and vomiting. I had to go pick him up from work. We figured it was the hemp and stopped consuming it. fast forward a year later and he ate a breakfast burrito that had Hemp on the ingredient list, which he didn’t realize when he purchased it. Again he became ill with stomach pain. He didn’t vomit this time, I am guessing because it was an ingredient as opposed to consuming straight Hemp. I am curious if CBD oil would cause the same reaction.
In an effort to avoid Dairy I wanted to give my 13 month old a plant-based milk. He had a similar negative reaction to hemp milk that I made myself using hemp hearts. It started off very gradually, and became more severe as time went on (few weeks). The first time I gave it to him he only had a sip of my smoothie with hemp seed milk. The reaction was so minor that we thought it was another allergen or baby like acne on his cheeks. He actually liked the taste of the milk I believe. Over the next week he came down with a cold, so we thought that the rash on his cheeks had something to do with that. He also had rashes all over his body. Mind you that he’s only had a sip of hemp milk at this time. So of course we took him to the doctor and the doctor said that it probably is due to the cold or something else in his environment such as fabric softener or the like. We actually started to freak out and think it was something that we were doing but definitely not the hemp milk. I started to think it was the dairy based formula. So we stop doing all of the stuff that we thought it was like the fabric softener and the new oil we were using in his hair. But I decided to exclusively give him help milk, to see if the symptoms improved. The rash on his body started to go away but his face continue to stay broken out. At this point he’s drinking about an ounce of hemp milk every few hours and maybe 4 oz in the evening. It seemed like he was starting to reject the milk and not want it. He was a lot crankier and all of a sudden one day when he had about 4 oz at once he started to get really cranky and scream. We noticed a red rash like breakout on his pelvis under his diaper, but again not knowing it was the milk we gave him Benadryl and put him to bed. The next day he did the same thing drinking one ounce about every two hours and then in the evening he drank 4 Oz. When he was drinking the 4-oz he cried the entire time but I guess he was thirsty. Shortly after drinking the milk I noticed that his Breakout on his face got worse and started turning red. 20 minutes later I noticed that he was rubbing his neck and moving his head from side to side and screaming. I immediately gave him Benadryl and he started to calm down. Needless to say I won’t be giving him any more hemp milk or seeds.
Hope you know how lucky you are that he lived through the many times you experimented with the HEMP MILK on your baby! Before you ever try anything natural again look up allergic reactions to the products. Also don’t give your baby parsley juice….in the 70’s 2 twin boys died because their parents were juicing for the babies and once again a teaspoon became an overdose. Your job as a parent is to above all else PROTECT YOUR CHILD. if you do this everything else will come much easier.
Thanks for this article. I recently started migrating to a plant based diet. Instead of mixing cottage cheese with my morning oatmeal for protein I was stirring in a tablespoon of hemp seeds. After about three weeks of daily intake I had extreme eye itchiness and my left eye was red and swollen. I started on an antihistamine which helped but the symptoms persisted, and if I skipped taking the antihistamine they came on stronger. It took a while for me to identify hemp seed as the possible culprit, and they continued to be part of my morning meal most days. I cut them out about 8 days ago and am almost symptom free.
i have severe reaction to sulfa medications but this is my only experience with a food based allergy.
Thanks for the article and the responses. I too was unsure if it was really possible for Hemp seeds to trigger anaphylaxis. I already have a severe allergy to tree nuts and thankfully always have Epipens with me. I was at a yoga festival where they were handing out free samples of hemp seeds. I open the package up and tried some and immediately felt my throat tingling and starting to swell. Recognizing the symptoms as the same ones I typically experience after being exposed to a tree nut, I immediately popped some Benedryl and as the symptoms became more intense administered an Epipen. I was truly in disbelief and wondered if there was any cross contamination of the product with tree nuts but after writing the company they said it was highly unlikely.
I asked my allergist who told me there was no test yet to detect and allergy to hemp. It’s crazy that more people aren’t discussing this topic! It’s interesting to me that there are others with nut allergies that are also seeing a hemp allergy. Is there a higher likelihood that you will be allergic to hemp if you do have a nut allergy? All things are medical practitioners should know. Frustrating more attention isn’t being placed on potential allergies to Hemp.
Thanks again for bringing to light an important issue that clearly needs more research!
I honestly thought I was the only one before reading all of these posts. People don’t even think about it. My whole life has been altered due to this allergy and my doctors are even stumped. They said the next time I’m in contact with any hemp at all I will have to be tubed or I will die. It’s very scary!
I have that reaction to pot smoke. Six years ago I walked out of my front door right into another tenant’s pot smoke cloud and got a breathfull before I realized it; instantaneously severe constriction. I jumped back inside, slammed the door shut behind me, ran into the br and slammed that door shut too. Doc said a second breathfull would have killed me. There is good reason to oppose the legalization of recreational pot use.
I have been eating hemp seeds for years & never noticed any allergic issues. However, this morning I added a tablespoon of hemp seed oil to my smoothie & within 30 minutes noticed hives/rash on both of my arms. And my ears are really hot. Also experienced a bit of an upset stomach. Wow! Didn’t expect that!
When eating out I can always tell when something is in the food that I shouldn’t have. I don’t always know what it is but I get that itch in my throat and have not been able to explain it very well. I read a lot of comments in this article of the same symptoms.
My reason for reading this article is because I think I have an allergy to Hemp Protein Powders. I have been tested and found that I am allergic to sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Recently, the last 3 months I have been bloating big time. My body has added 25 lbs in those 3 months even though I exercise regularly and watch my diet. I am a food and health coach and nothing that I’ve learned and practiced is working. The only new thing to my diet in the last 3 months is the Hemp Powders. I thought I had Candida but after consulting with my Naturopath she called my condition a digestion problem. I do not feel normal any more and the bloating seems to be out of control. I’m going to do more research but I came across your article first.
Hey guys, I’m Chef Joel from Recipe30, I travel the world eating all different types of food and I have never had any allergies whatsoever. I recently sprinkled some hemp seeds(2 tbsp) on my Italian salad and with 30 minutes I started scratching my scalp and warm parts of my body, after one hour I had may spots and by the next day, some pretty severe rashes or hives everywhere. It’s very itch and you can’t scratch it or it gets so much worse. To the point that you can see my scratch marks like burns!
So don’t listen to any one who says they don’t cause allergies. This is my first allergy ever and it was hemp seeds. Test it before eating. My third day now and still full of hives. Nasty!
my first allergy ever CBD oil cause asthma and hay fever. Was sure it was my thyroid medication. I was like a cripple for 5 weeks until finding pages like this.
After having this weird wheezing thing happen awhile back while I thought I was sick? Hmm, now not so sure part of it wasn’t allergic reaction to Hemp protein!! yikes! The protein powder in my smoothie hits the back of my throat and it feels like its closing up some. I am not an asthmatic person, but it just hit me today that perhaps I have an allergy to it.
Which really stinks because in last year I realized many foods I ate for years are not good for my digestion. Including several nuts, wheat etc. But there are many foods, real food, veggies, fish, fruit that I can eat! Thank the good Lord!!
So yes, I’m having allergic symptoms to hemp protein. I have been sneezing more, drippy nose and closed up throat and a month ago had wheezing at night that may have been in combination with a cold? Who knows for sure.
The hemp milk sold at my grocery does not bother me though, I think….
Thanks for this article.
smoked weed for over ten years. ate a ton of candies and brownies with basic ingredients, (cocoa sugar vanilla) no problem. had one protein bar with HEMP HEARTS in it and i got red hot itchy and puffy and freaked me out. it’s the seeds!
To the best of my awareness, I have only eaten hemp seeds twice. Both times they were in a vegan granola bar, and both times I had food-poisoning-like symptoms: feelings of nausea, then significant abdominal pain and diarrhea. It was severe enough that I would never knowingly eat hemp again, use hemp oil, or any other form of hemp. NOT worth the risk.
I have drank hemp milk lattes a few times but this last time I ended up with stomach cramps that lasted all day and then pretty severe diarrhea. I’m not sure if it is the additives or the hemp milk, but now that I associate hemp milk with stomach cramps, I won’t be drinking it anymore.
I have used hemp seeds as added to cereal, cakes, and health bars and one of my friends children ate a small bar had the swollen eyes, vomiting, diahorrea, the works and off her went to hospital – ugh embarrassing! Then I was taking, hemp oil as a tiny sip (maybe a teaspoon) and wasn’t feeling good afterwards a bit hot and queasy and brushed it off as just me feeling a bit off anyway. I was taking it as a health tonic and I believe that I got some good benefits too. Then I had a shot (15mil) of hemp oil from another brand and had a full allergic reaction – I couldn’t breathe well, had gut pain, sweats, swollen red puffy eyes, felt dizzy and didn’t want to talk much so went to hospital where they gave me steroids, ventolin with oxygen and strong anti-histamine and then kept me under observation for four hours. My recovery was full but I won’t be using any hemp products again. Too risky.
Stopped breathing. Severely week and and confused. Not enough oxygen to brain. Had to jab myself with epipen. I have never had to use it before. I could have died… I have severe pollen allergies. Be aware that this will happen. I had no idea.
Thanks for this article, 30 minutes after eating 1 tablespoon of hemp hearts my husband had the classic reaction: he started to feel faint and nauseous. His skin flushed, then became blotchy with very pale spots. He then vomited profusely (which would happen a few more times over the next hour). His mouth, tongue and face started to swell with his left eye swelling almost shut. The trunk of his body looked as if he had a severe sunburn covered in wasp bites. It was a very scary experience. The worst part is the vendor refuses to acknowledge that hemp allergies exist or that his product should carry a warning to try small amounts first. He recommends to start with 5 tablespoons which I think would have caused anaphylactic shock. Unfortunately people want to defend Hemp as if it has no problems and become very aggressive and accusatory when it is suggested that it may have problems. My concern is this won’t be taken seriously until someone dies.
About half an hour after consuming 1 tablespoon of hemp hearts my husband started to feel faint and nauseous. His skin flushed, then became blotchy with very pale spots. He then vomited profusely (which would happen a few more times over the next hour). His mouth, tongue and face started to swell with his left eye swelling almost shut. The trunk of his body looked as if he had a severe sunburn covered in wasp bites. Outside of mild hay fever in the fall, he has no allergies. The worst part is both the vendor and producer refuse to believe hemp heart allergies exist or to put a warning on the package that people should try very small amounts first. The package recommends 5 to 8 tablespoons at a time. I believe this amount would have caused him to go into anaphylactic shock. Unfortunately the denial of hemp problems and the defence of poor labelling of this product is rampant and someone will likely have to die of a bad reaction before anything is done.
Found out I was allergic to hemp the hard way. Heard about this great health benefits so I mixed some hemp hearts in to my usual smoothie. Within 20 minutes of ingestion I was in full anaphylaxis. Hospitalized for hours. Saw an allergy specialist a few weeks later and they confirmed that I was severely allergic to hemp.
Regarding your co-worker at Superfoodly…. Please let him know that the spice “sumac” is related to tbe cashew nut tree and can cause anaphylaxis too.
Allergic to cashews? — Stay away from sumac! (Often found in Arabic and Persian food and even in a garbanzo bean salad at Trader Joe’s.)
I started using CBD OIL on May 1st. As of Saturday, I noticed some mild burning of my tongue, yesterday it became worse, and today my mouth and tongue have been on fire. I also have some burning in my chest. I am terrified that I am going to die from this. I was taking a very small dose of the oil, as directed, took it this AM, and will not take more. Should I go to hospital?
I used hemp seed oil (extracted from seeds) which is different than CBD oil (extracted from other plant parts) last night and woke with hives and a rash on my torso and back.
I have oral allergy syndrome https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-dictionary/Oral-Allergy-Syndrome-(OAS) and thought I had researched CBD oil before ordering. I have anaphylaxis to apples, all stone fruits, almonds, etc (anything in the birch family). If you have a tendancy to allergies, be aware! I thought I might be having a reaction to it, as I felt more itchy/asthmatic response the last week. Seems I was correct in my suspicion ? too bad.. it really worked well
I was first introduced to hemp through lotion in the fifth grade and broke out in severe rashes that looked like burns and blistered. As I got older with each contact came a worst side effect. If someone smokes marijuana and comes in contact with me, soon after I can’t breathe. I have to take an EpiPen with me wherever I go, wipe down tables before I sit at them, and wash every item of clothing multiple times Before I can wear it. My doctor says that I am the only documented case in Indiana to be anaphylactic allergic to hemp. My allergy to hemp is not just inform of seeds, it’s in every form of hemp and with the rise in the popularity of hemp it’s very scary for me to leave my home. The saddest part is I worked at a health food store and I use only homeopathic medicine other than my EpiPen, and I know all of the benefits that hemp has for people and I can’t even use it. I had to quit the best job that I ever had because of this allergy.
Me too – I added hemp protein to a favourite muesli square thinking it would be a super healthy additive – every time I eat that square i now get an itchy throat – so the birds will get the rest of this batch. No more hemp for me either..
I tasted from a bag of Raw Hemp Seeds and thought this is really good, dug in for another taste and within minutes started feeling nausea, my tongue started swelling up with little bumps, throat started itching. Very scary, hoping I’ll be ok soon.
Yes. They can be dangerous. Tried a handful and immediately felt itchiness in my throat, then got hives , swelling and throat began to close. Full anaphylaxis, this was in 2015 and the doctors had never heard of before. Be careful.
Never could smoke pot, always broke me out instantly. Guess I wasn’t thinking when I tried hemp seed oil to try and lower cholesterol. Totally wiped away a few hours after it hit my stomach and felt real bad. Nightmares also, each of the two times I tried it, and I only did one teaspoon each time. Safe to say, I wasted my money, and won’t again.
Tried a friend’s “Vegan” protein shake mix at work. It was chocolate, and I’m not a fan of chocolate so it BARELY touched my lips. 10 minutes later, severe indigestion and sweats. 20 minutes later, the hives began and the reflux was almost unbearable. 30 minutes in full blown anafilaxis with throat swelling and bein rushed to the hospital. The staff said I was 5 minutes away from an emergency trach and a helicopter ride.
Fast forward to today, after two allergist specialists and going the ingredients with a fine tooth comb, the specialist was able to come up with a test for hemp seed, and sure enough I am severely allergic. Glad to finally know what it was that almost killed me.
I started using Hemp oil capsules, I heard they help with sleep. I woke up one day after taking them for 3 weeks and my eyes were swollen shut and I have a red itchy rash all over my face and neck. The only thing I had changed in my diet was adding Hemp oil. OMG, so glad I came across this, they are going in the trash. Now not sure how to deal with this, going on 3 days now. YIKES.
Hi guys, I am a self proclaimed herbalist who have used very kind of Essential oil on the market never having any kind of allergic reaction except with cinnamon leaf lotion I made (never again). You can develops toxicity over time with Essential oils too! Be careful too much is a bad thing! I recently started to drink hemp seeds oil 2 tablespoons full at a time on waking. I have started to have severe hives all over my face swelling, itching, burning. I also am ?dizzy, headache, and running nose (with congestion) if that makes sense?! I was not sure if this is a sensitivity to the essential oils so I used none at all today. I was feeling a bit better after taking benadryl until I took another dosage of hemp oil a hour ago! My face is swelling again and burning like crazy…no more hemp oil for me. The strange thing is I have smoked in the past with no bad reactions at all! I am wondering if I should go to hospital after reading these similar stories. What a mystery is this. I hope this will confirm it can actually be happening and (not in their head)
The good news is that hemp is verified gluten free. It is also reckoned to be complete protein. Hemp Protein contains edisten, which is similar to the
Hemp seed allergy
Cannabis is a flowering plant and its most widespread species is Cannabis sativa. Hemp seed is a variety of the Cannabis sativa species that is grown for the industrial uses of its derived products. Cannabis as a drug and hemp are both derived from the same species and contain the psychoactive component THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), but they are distinct strains. Hemp has a lower concentration of THC and a higher concentration of cannabidiol, which decreases THC’s psychoactive effects. Hemp seeds from the plant has many nutritious benefits. The increased availability in the food industry has contributed to the increased frequency of hemp seed allergy and possible cannabis cross reactivity.
Until 2018, growing of hemp in the United States was not permitted but imported hemp was legal in food products and as of 2000 has been sold in health food stores. Cannabis allergy has been recognized but its probably been underreported because of past illegal status.
Reactions can vary from mild eye and nasal symptoms, hives, swelling or severe whole body reactions. Anaphylaxis These symptoms are provoked with smoking or handling cannabis. Allergy testing is usually done with fresh cannabis buds. Marijuana Testing
Typical symptoms of hemp seed reactions are generalized hives and swelling of the lips and eyelids usually within an hour of ingestion. There is a strong association of those allergic to cannabis to have a hemp seed allergy as well. Cannabis exposure can sensitize patients first and then have a hemp seed reaction after its first exposure. Alternatively, tree or weed allergy may result in cross reactivity sensitivity to the proteins in hemp seed and cannabis.
As we see a rise in Cannabis allergy because of its legalization and increased use, hemp seed allergy will also become more prominent as a result of its cross reactive proteins. Hemp seed is a highly nutritious supplement that will be used more and more by the food industry. Patients need to be aware that if they are allergic to cannabis/marijuana, they are more highly susceptible to hemp seed allergy too.
Dr. Alan Khadavi
Allergy & Asthma Specialist
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Hemp seed allergy can be as a result of cross reactivity with cannabis. Hemp seed allergy can present with hives, swelling and anaphylaxis.