“We know that cannabinoids like CBD can reduce inflammation and pain,” David Casarett, MD, chief of palliative care at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, tells Health. “Again, what we’re seeing right now is that most of the evidence is circumstantial but promising.”
“The effects of cannabis are relatively weak compared to topical steroids like hydrocortisone,” says Dr. Tishler. “In short, at this time I would not recommend any topical cannabis or CBD products to treat a serious illness like psoriasis.”
What we need to learn about how CBD might work
With all of the headlines pointing to the healing powers of cannabidiol (CBD)—one of more than 80 chemical compounds in the cannabis plant—it’s natural to wonder: Can using CBD oil help relieve psoriasis symptoms?
In fact, the preliminary science investigating the ways that CBD, the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant, can help treat eczema and psoriasis shows some promise, says Jordan Tishler, MD, a physician and cannabis expert in Boston.
How CBD might improve daily life
In the end, since the exact nature of how CBD works to help treat psoriasis remains unknown and psoriasis is a serious skin condition, consider this our best advice: Until more studies are done on CBD and psoriasis, be sure to speak with your dermatologist to plan a treatment course that’s right for you.
No. There is a need for controlled clinical studies or at least prospective patient registries or databases designed to collect information and monitor the potential risks and benefits of CBD and other cannabis-derived products for the treatment of psoriatic disease.
For psoriasis patients with specific complaints such as pain, itching, or trouble sleeping, cannabis-derived products might help reduce the negative impact these symptoms have on their life. Ongoing medical research can help tease out the complex mechanisms by which cannabinoids like CBD or THC impact health and modulate biological systems such as the immune response.
Up to 30% of patients with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis with symptoms such as morning stiffness, fatigue, swollen fingers and toes, pain in joints, and nail changes. Psoriasis patients also have an increased risk for other conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, sleep and respiratory problems, depression and anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
In general, CBD appears to retain many of the biological effects of THC, without the “high” most people associate with THC or marijuana. This key difference has led many companies or research groups to study and develop pure CBD products that may be more desirable for patients who wish to avoid or may not tolerate the stronger psychoactive effects of THC-based products. This difference has also made CBD a popular choice among consumers who are first-time or inexperienced users of cannabis-based products.
Are there clinical studies on CBD use for psoriasis and other skin inflammations?
Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory condition linked to the body’s immune system. When immune cells become dysregulated in psoriasis patients, they cause red, scaly patches of skin and inflammation throughout the body.
Doing your research is important. Patients considering holistic or alternative forms of medical treatments for their chronic medical conditions need to have open conversations with their health care provider to navigate the cannabis landscape better. Looking for transparent ingredient lists and products with a good brand reputation is also important before trying CBD.
The medical community has just barely scratched the surface with regards to the potential benefits and risks of cannabis-derived products. The biochemical impact of CBD on the body needs to be carefully considered. Their effects are determined by many variables, including the delivery method to the body (topical application, inhalation, oral ingestion), dose or concentration of the cannabinoid, or the specific chemical(s) isolated from a particular plant strain.
How do cannabinoids like CBD affect the body?
Despite many very effective topical and systemic treatments for psoriasis, many patients still suffer from chronic itching and pain. They also face the stigma and psychosocial consequences of having a highly visible skin condition. It is, therefore, not surprising that patients affected with this disease have sought relief via a variety of alternative treatment options, including cannabis-based products like CBD.
Several factors make the investigational effort very challenging. They include: