Inflamed psoriasis can be a nightmare! Your skin is scaly, itchy, red, and sore, and to make matters worse, everyone around you is generous with sympathetic smiles. How do you deal with this? After going through a dozen skin ointments that have failed to give satisfying results, perhaps it’s time to try cannabis for psoriasis.
The internet is awash with purported cannabis miracles, and everyone seems to be recommending cannabis to everyone else for the treatment of literally every stubborn condition. It’s sad that some people have been given false hopes based on hearsay. When it comes to psoriasis, medical science is yet to find a cure. So whatever promises healing is exciting to the 8 million Americans suffering from the condition.
This article highlights valid reasons why cannabis may be of benefit to psoriasis patients and goes ahead to show what science says about this.
Current Treatments for Psoriasis are Inadequate
Psoriasis is one of the 80-plus autoimmune conditions that exist, and just like most other autoimmune conditions, there is no permanent cure for psoriasis.
When a person is suffering from psoriasis, their skin cells regenerate at a very high rate. Ideally, skin cells are replaced in 30 days, but when a person has psoriasis, this happens in less than 3 days. Over time, the patient builds up a lot of dead cells on their skin, which results in what we witness as symptoms of psoriasis. This makes the skin unsightly and unappealing, and psoriasis is also very uncomfortable to the sufferer.
Psoriasis is triggered by factors such as stress, alcohol consumption, infections, and certain medications.
Causes for psoriasis are not clear; however, it is suspected that genetics and immune system imbalances may play a key role. Treatment focuses on symptom control and getting rid of triggers. Common treatments include:
- Anti-inflammatory agents
- Steroids to suppress immunity
- Antipyretics to suppress itching
- Skin ointments, such as coal tar, to suppress itching
- Vitamin D and Anthralin to slow down the growth of new cells
- Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory agents
Recently, biologics have been incorporated in the treatment of psoriasis. Biologics are drugs that have been derived from living cells, and they are given through the veins. Unfortunately, biologics are very expensive and can cause severe side effects.
Can Cannabis Treat Psoriasis?
Cannabis for psoriasis treatment has two dimensions: symptom control and immune modulation. Symptoms common to psoriasis include dry and itchy skin, inflammation, pain, sore joints, pitted nails, wounds in some cases, and psychological symptoms.
The effectiveness of using cannabis in the treatment of psoriasis is still being investigated. A few studies have shown that there is potential in this area, but it will take further research to okay cannabis as a valid treatment option for psoriasis. Should this prove true, patients will be the biggest winners as they will be saved from the severe side effects associated with prolonged use of pharmaceutical drugs.
Does Research Back the Claims Up?
Cannabis addresses psoriasis holistically. It achieves this by offering the following benefits:
- Cannabis helps in reducing inflammation
Psoriasis is associated with inflammation. A study conducted in 2009 by the University of North Carolina showed that cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties. Another study showed the potential of cannabis in treating symptoms of refractory psoriasis.
- Cannabis helps in slowing down the regeneration of skin cells
In psoriasis, the immune system is hypersensitive and causes skin cells to regenerate at a very high rate. This is because the immune cells keep launching attacks on healthy cells through the fighter T cells. These dead cells accumulate on the skin, causing the symptoms mentioned above.
How do you stop this? Well, one landmark study conducted by the University of Nottingham in 20017 has answers to this.
The study showed the potential of cannabinoids in slowing down the multiplication of skin cells (keratinocytes). The researchers concluded that this showed potential for the use of cannabis in treating psoriasis.
- Cannabis helps in pain control
Itching and inflammation cause pain on the skin. The THC found in cannabis can be used to manage pain that is difficult to treat.
- Cannabis helps to reduce itching
Itching is one of the annoying symptoms that come with psoriasis. Because psoriasis can strike at the most open places, people avoid scratching in order to conceal the disease. However, sometimes this can be very difficult, and the only way to stop the itch is to itch.
There are a number of skin ointments used to reduce itching, and cannabis-based ointments are also effective. A study investigating the role of cannabinoids in dermatology concluded that cannabinoids could help to relieve itchiness.
- Cannabis helps in wound healing
Constant itching on the skin may result in open surface wounds. A lab study showed that cannabinoids play a role in wound healing. However, this needs further investigation to validate the findings.
- Cannabis offers hope in modulating the immune system
Psoriasis is a disease of the immune system. By modulating the immune system, cannabis may offer healing for autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis.
Cannabis and mental health
People suffering from psoriasis are prone to psychological stress. Unfortunately, stress triggers the eruption of psoriasis. and this can easily become a vicious cycle. You get a flare-up that’s difficult to treat and embarrassing, it makes you stressed, and then you get another flare-up just when the previous one was subsiding.
To avoid this, people with psoriasis should avoid stress triggers at all costs. If this is not possible, cannabis can be of use.
Low doses of THC can be used to relieve stress, but for the long term, a high-CBD strain may be more effective. You should also consider going for cannabis strains that are rich in mood-enhancing terpenes such as linalool.
- NCBI (2016): Cannabis for Refractory Psoriasis-High Hopes for a Novel Treatment and a Literature Review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27164964
- NCBI (2007): Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17157480
- NCBI (2008): Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/
- JAAD (2017): The role of cannabinoids in dermatology. Retrieved from https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(17)30308-0/fulltext
- NCBI (2016): Cannabinoid CB2 receptors are involved in the regulation of fibrogenesis during skin wound repair in mice. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4805070/
- Fundacion CANNA: Molecular Mimicry: The Role of Cannabis in Healing Autoimmune Disease. Retrieved from https://www.fundacion-canna.es/en/molecular-mimicry-role-cannabis-healing-autoimmune-disease
- NCBI (2017): Dose-related effects of delta-9-THC on emotional responses to acute psychosocial stress. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28599212