The University of Colorado is investigating the efficaciousness of CBD oil in treating eczema and psoriasis. New trials are showing that the cannabis derivative is popular among patients with such skin complaints, and in particular with those who haven’t had success with steroids. In this article, we’ll look at the existing cannabis research on psoriasis and eczema.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease which causes rapid skin cell production and inflammation. The super-fast production of skin cells means they reach the surface of the skin too early. The accumulation of these unready skin cells results in raised, patchy skin that has a scaly and silvery appearance. Psoriasis is painful and itchy, with patients left in discomfort due to inflammation and swelling.
Psoriasis patients are more likely to develop psoriatic arthritis and mental health complications. Just under one in three psoriasis patients end up with the former. The pain, fatigue and insomnia caused by psoriasis is an unhelpful triumvirate which contribute to poor mental health. In 2010, a study found that psoriasis patients were more than 30 percent more likely to have anxiety and almost 40 percent more likely to suffer from depression than those who aren’t afflicted with the skin complaint.
Eczema is an umbrella term used to refer to a multitude of skin conditions with symptoms of dry and itchy skin. More than 30 million Americans have some kind of eczema, equating to more than 10 percent of the population. Skin inflammation can occur on any part of the body, but the red rashes and irritation is typically most common inside the elbows, behind the knees and on the face, hands and feet. Children are often more affect than adults. Scratching eczema-affected areas just makes matters worse, as the skin becomes raw, swollen and hence more sensitive.
While not entirely certain, doctors have reached a consensus that eczema results from an overreaction of immune cells located in the skin. Pollen and soap can spark the inflammation which causes this unwanted immune response, in addition to pet dander. There is no cure for eczema with steroids, the most commonly prescribed medication, only able to manage symptoms. Such treatments have varied success rates and often have side effects.
The benefits of CBD oil for those with psoriasis or eczema
In recent times, CBD oil has emerged as a popular treatment for both psoriasis and eczema, thanks to its interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS was discovered in the 1990s, and scientists have found that the network of chemicals and receptors is in charge of regulating inflammation, pain, mood, sleep, appetite and crucially – in the cases of eczema and psoriasis – immune system function.
The endocannabinoids found in the ECS are naturally-produced chemicals which bare a likeness to the cannabinoids found in cannabis – CBD is an example of a non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Receptors are present in cells all over our body, including the skin, hence why cannabinoids are proving such an interesting field of research for those studying skin conditions. CBD’s interactions with endocannabinoid receptors help to ease pain levels and inflammation, thereby reducing the need to scratch and itch. Therefore, it’s reasonable to suggest anyone who experiences, dry or sensitive skin could benefit from cannabinoid-infused products. A University of Colorado review published in 2017 identified CBD, CBG and CBN, three non-psychoactive compounds, as potentially helpful for psoriasis.
Some researchers, including Dr Ethan Russo in 2009, have proposed that skin conditions such as psoriasis are caused by imbalances in a person’s endocannabinoid system. “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency, the term given for ECS problems could be responsible for migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and more. Unfortunately, the research in this area is quite limited, which is why more studies are required – made difficult due to marijuana’s Schedule I narcotic status.
How cannabis influences the immune system
The immunosuppressant properties of CBD, THC and other cannabinoids could explain why CBD and cannabis oil products are so effective at treating eczema and psoriasis. This is what enables cannabinoids to work as anti-inflammatories. It is the overactivity among immune cells in the skin that causes inflammation symptoms for those with eczema.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties shine through whether the compound is administered orally or topically – however, if you’re treating a skin complaint then CBD creams are preferable. The cannabidiol instructs immune cells to slow down skin cell production and reduce inflammation levels. The immunosuppressant effects of cannabis can also help to medicate arthritis, Lupus, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
Treating eczema and psoriasis using CBD oil
Consumers have plenty of choice with cannabis products nowadays, especially for treating skin conditions. Topicals infused with CBD are available in all 50 states while some legalized states also stock products with a mixture of CBD and psychoactive – but potent anti-inflammatory – THC. Hemp seed oil can also help to calm down inflammation. But how do you know which cannabis product is most suitable for your condition, and how much should you apply per day? We’ll break this down in the next section.
THC-infused cannabis lotion
Recreational and advanced medicinal states stock an array of cannabis creams, lotions, balms and salves infused with THC in addition to CBD. That’s because Colorado, Washington and others have recognized the medicinal benefits of THC and doesn’t just look at it as a hallucinogenic compound. Apothecanna and Mary’s Medicinals are well-known cannabis companies that develop whole-plant products.
CBD-infused cannabis cream
Not all states have legalized cannabis and the plant is still banned federally. However, CBD products can be purchased anywhere in the United States since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. These hemp-based CBD-only creams tackle skin conditions effectively. Thinking of trying one to clear up your eczema or psoriasis? Here are some top tips:
- Check for third-party laboratory testing
- Buy alcohol-free topicals
- Purchase from a reliable, reputable vendor
The benefits of hemp seed oil
Hemp seeds are a great source of nutrition and south-east Asian cultures have used them as a staple part of their traditional medicine for hundreds of years. Hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6, two important fatty acids, and these facilitate healthy skin and cell production. Hemp seed products don’t contain the high levels of CBD and THC like typical cannabis creams, however the collection of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids means they are still very beneficial. Amino acids are also present in hemp seed oil.
The emergence of high-CBD and high-THC cannabis
Certain CBD and cannabis creams will also contain hemp seed oil, so remain aware of this and refer to labelling and product descriptions. CBD-only and hemp seed products are legal everywhere since they are derived from industrial hemp and can be purchased in grocery stores and online. The same goes for hemp-based beauty products. Some find that hemp soap is kinder on their skin and doesn’t inflame skin conditions like mainstream soaps tend to do.
Medicating with CBD oil
Participants in the University of Colorado’s clinical trial are taking CBD on a daily basis in the form of an infused capsule. It is thought that sublingual consumption of CBD oil, via capsule, tincture or as part of a beverage is effective at combatting psoriasis, eczema and other skin complaints, yet more studies are needed to confirm this. However, with very few side effects to CBD and the list of general medicinal properties, it definitely doesn’t hurt to medicate with CBD vape oil every day, and experience the potential of cannabinoid medicine.
If you are unable to take CBD oil orally, you can also apply the skin as a topical, providing the product is alcohol-free.
Tackling symptoms of skin conditions through CBD
Psoriasis-related symptoms can also be managed with CBD oil. We mentioned earlier that psoriasis patients are often more depressed and anxious than those without the condition, while others are more prone to insomnia and arthritis. CBD can treat this quartet of symptoms and more. Many treating skin conditions with CBD have found the all-encompassing effects of the compound transformative on their quality of life.
Interestingly, some cannabis smokers have experienced worsened skin conditions, perhaps due to the free radicals in the smoke. If you are keen to get your cannabinoids by inhaling, consider switching to dry herb or e-liquid vaping.
Psoriasis and eczema sufferers may finally have a genuine solution to their conditions which works over time. Now, it’s time for government to get out of the way, and allow these crucial studies to take place.