You have most likely heard of cannabis and CBD being an effective treatment option for a host of medical conditions and diseases. These include epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, nausea and vomiting, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Crohn’s disease, among many others. But is psoriasis one of them?
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common, genetic, chronic systemic inflammatory disease characterized by signs and symptoms that include elevated itchy patches of raised red skin that is covered with silvery scales. Usually, psoriasis can be detected on the scalp, elbows, and knees, but it can also be found on other parts of the skin.
It should be noted, though, that psoriasis is not contagious, even if you touch the affected skin. That’s because it is not an infection.
In understanding psoriasis, it is important to know how it works. The immune system plays a key part. A specific subset of T-lymphocytes, which is a type of white blood cell, triggers an inflammation in the skin, as well as in other parts of the body. These T cells lead to the production of inflammatory chemicals that prompt skin cells to multiply and build up, as well as produce certain changes in the small skin blood vessels. New skin cells are produced so rapidly that they reach the skin surface even they mature. This immature buildup on the skin surface forms raised patches of silvery scales that are itchy, painful, and bothersome.
Psoriasis is genetic, and certain environmental factors – like smoking, alcoholism, sunburns, and stress – may cause it to flare up.
It is also worth noting that 15% of those who suffer from psoriasis will, at some point, develop psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes stiffness and painful swelling of the joints. This can lead to permanent damage to the joint if left untreated.
Conventional treatment for psoriasis
Psoriasis is considered to be a tricky autoimmune disease, partly because it can manifest itself in a number of different ways. There is also no known auto-antigen that triggers flare ups. Psoriasis is triggered by specific environmental stimuli, and these may differ from person to person.
There is no shortage of conventional treatment methods of psoriasis, from prescription medication to topical creams to phototherapy. However, patients are usually wary of these options because they may be ineffective, costly, or have potentially dangerous side effects.
Topicals creams, for one, may be the most common choice. These include retinoids, corticosteroids, and Vitamin D replicators. But while they are moderately effective, topicals can only alleviate localized symptoms of burning and itching and sporadic flare ups, they are not designed to get rid of the disease for good.
Phototherapy or exposure to light has also been proven to be effective in slowing skin cell turnover and in reducing scaling, but that’s about it.
Prescription medications, on the other hand, are the only conventional treatment method that is designed to target the ailment’s underlying physiological pathways. Results, however, have been mainly hit or miss.
Psoriasis and CBD
In recent years, researchers and scientists have investigated the various therapeutic effects of cannabis and its various chemical components, called cannabinoids. CBD or cannabidiol is one of the cannabinoids found to have a wide array of medical benefits.
CBD has been found to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relief properties, among many others. This is the main reason why many turn to CBD oil for psoriasis treatment.
CBD is acknowledged for its role as autoimmune regulator, as well as for its influence on our body’s homeostasis or balance. And given that psoriasis is an inflammation-inducing autoimmune disease, using CBD would make sense.
One study has specifically shown the role of CBD in suppressing both angiogenic growth factors and inflammatory cytokines, which are two of the key factors involved in the onset of psoriasis.
Another recent study also pointed to the inhibitory effects of CBD on the spread of epidermal keratinocyte differentiation, which simply means the inhibition of uncontrolled skin cell buildup.
This same research has also verified that cannabinoid receptors are present within human skin layers, and in anandamide, which is a cannabinoid receptor ligand that directly inhibits epidermal cell differentiation.
There are more studies to take note of when it comes to CBD and psoriasis. These are studies worth looking into if you suffer from psoriasis and if conventional treatment has not worked for you.