EducationManaging psoriasis symptoms with CBD cream

Managing psoriasis symptoms with CBD cream

10 min read

Lucy MacKinnon

Managing psoriasis symptoms with CBD cream

Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious autoimmune disease that affects around 2 in 100 people in the UK. It causes an overproduction of skin cells, which results in raised red patches appearing on the body. These patches are often covered with dry white ‘scales’ and can be itchy and uncomfortable. Psoriasis generally emerges between the ages of 15 and 25, though it can appear at any point in a person’s life. There is currently no cure for psoriasis. So, while symptoms may come and go, sufferers have to live with the disease for the rest of their lives.

Because psoriasis is a long-term condition, it’s important that those with the disease learn how to best manage it. Finding creams and treatment that ease itching, reduce inflammation, and minimise flare-ups, can help to significantly improve quality of life for people living with psoriasis.

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Though there are a number of medical treatments for the disease, many sufferers choose natural alternatives to manage and mitigate their condition. These alternative treatments can be administered alongside traditional prescription drugs or, in case of mild symptoms, in place of them.

One option that’s becoming increasingly popular is medical cannabis, and in particular CBD cream. CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a powerful compound that can have a real and long-lasting impact on the symptoms of psoriasis. This makes it a good option for people looking to manage their psoriasis in a more natural way.  

So, is CBD cream good for psoriasis? Keep reading to learn more.

Understanding CBD

If you’re thinking about using CBD cream for psoriasis, it’s important to understand what makes this plant extract so special. CBD is one of the two cannabinoids found in the cannabis (and hemp) plant, the other being Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. When ingested or inhaled, it produces a ‘high’ or sense of euphoria. It’s illegal to sell products containing high levels of THC in the UK. However, some people can be prescribed medical cannabis by a doctor. 

Both THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a group of neuromodulatory lipids (known as endocannabinoids) and their receptors (CB1 and CB2), which are widely distributed around the body. The ECS regulates various cardiovascular, nervous and immune functions inside cells and is thought to play a major part in managing the body’s vital systems. 

However, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce a ‘high’. This allows patients to enjoy many of the potentially powerful therapeutic benefits of cannabis without any of the psychoactive effects. It also means that, as long as they meet strict guidelines, CBD products can be sold legally across the UK. Most CBD used in non-prescription products is now derived from hemp, a cousin of the cannabis plant. This is due to hemp containing only trace levels of THC

The ECS and CBD

The ECS is made up of a large network of cannabinoid receptors. These receptors sit on the surface of cells throughout our brains, central nervous system and other organs. There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors, known as CB1 and CB2. Both are spread throughout the body, although CB1 receptors are largely found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are concentrated in the immune system.

Endocannabinoids are naturally-occurring molecules that attach to cannabinoid receptors and activate them. As they interact with the receptors, they activate various bodily functions in the process.

Though more research is needed, early studies suggest that CBD helps prolong the life cycle of naturally occurring endocannabinoids. This means they’re potentially able to offer a longer period of therapeutic benefits. By exposing your endocannabinoid system to an extended dose of cannabinoid activity, CBD may help to protect the brain, reduce stress, and boost the immune system.

CBD and psoriasis

The ECS system was only discovered in 1988, and research into its structure, functions, and purposes is still ongoing. However, scientists are confident that the ECS helps to regulate a number of important bodily functions including memory, appetite, metabolism, stress response, the immune system, pain relief and sleep.

The ECS may be influential in the treatment of psoriasis in a number of ways. Importantly, studies suggest that the main physiological function of the cutaneous ECS is to control the well-balanced proliferation, differentiation, and survival – as well as immune competence and/or tolerance – of skin cells. 

Looking after the cutaneous ECS can therefore help to prevent and treat a number of common skin issues, including symptoms of psoriasis. As CBD is known to interact with the ECS, and so it may be a powerful natural option for those looking for an alternative treatment.

What’s more, the ECS is thought to play a role in a number of cutaneous sensory functions including pain, itching, and inflammation. These are all common symptoms for people living with psoriasis, and managing them is an important part of coping with the daily challenges of the conditions. 

A 2019 study found that patients who applied topical CBD cream twice a day for two months saw significant improvements in their symptoms. Most reported reduced itching and burning, as well as less inflammation.   

As well as potentially treating the physical effects of the disease, CBD may help to ease psychological symptoms associated with psoriasis, including stress, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Taking low doses of CBD oil has been shown that i t may significantly reduce the stress response by interacting with the ECS. As stress is a trigger –  as well as a symptom – of psoriasis, this is especially significant for people living with the condition.

Anxiety is another common issue for people with psoriasis. High levels of anxiety can trigger flare-ups and make other associated symptoms worse. One study on the link between anxiety and CBD found that 80% of participants who administered CBD to treat their anxiety reported lower anxiety levels within a month. Reduced levels of stress and anxiety can also help to improve sleep and boost energy levels.

Benefits of CBD cream for psoriasis

Though the science behind CBD is of course important, most psoriasis sufferers will be mainly interested in the real-world benefits of using CBD skin cream to treat the condition. Thanks to its effect on the ECS system and its potential anti-inflammatory properties, CBD cream may help to improve the quality of life for people living with psoriasis in a number of ways. Some key potential benefits are: 

  • Interactions with the ECS to regulate skin growth and create a healthy cutaneous system
  • Reduces itching
  • Reduces pain
  • Reduces reddening and inflammation
  • Improves sleep
  • Mitigates the body’s stress response
  • Eases anxiety

Another benefit is that CBD cream can be applied directly to the affected area, and may offer quick relief during a flare up. Applying the cream has shown potential to possibly help to reduce itching and inflammation in the local area and help the patch of raised skin to appear less red. A number of CBD products can be applied multiple times a day to provide relief as needed.

How to choose and apply CBD cream for psoriasis

Topical CBD cream is a safe, natural treatment for psoriasis and other skin conditions. There is currently a range of CBD creams and lotions on the market. If you’re thinking about trying it, you’ll first need to find the product that’s right for your needs. 

Firstly, it’s important to choose a CBD cream from a manufacturer with a good reputation. Not all CBD products are created equally, with some brands labelling their products with incorrect concentrations of CBD, or using CBD that’s been extracted incorrectly.

When looking for a CBD cream to treat your psoriasis, look for products that:

Contain no more than 1 mg (or 0.2%) of THC per container

This ensures that the product is in line with UK law. The UK government issues strict guidelines on THC content in order to prevent the sale of psychoactive compounds. All CBD products sold in the UK should be compliant with UK law.

Sourced from organically grown hemp

Organically grown hemp will be free of harmful chemicals and pesticides. These unwanted compounds could aggravate symptoms, so opt for organic creams where possible.

Contains full or broad-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD is a term used to describe CBD that’s been made using the whole plant. Broad-spectrum refers to CBD products containing the entire plant profile, sans THC.

This is significant as full and broad-spectrum CBD will contain terpenes (volatile unsaturated aromatic hydrocarbons found in plants) which help to make the CBD more potent. This is known as the “entourage effect”, and while it is still a theory, it is being shown to be true in a number of recent studies

Is manufactured using CO2 supercritical extraction

CO2 supercritical extraction is preferable to alcohol or butane extraction, as it preserves the terpenes and cannabinoids naturally occurring in the plant. If this information isn’t listed on the label, contact the manufacturer to find out more.

States its CBD content clearly on the label

Though it can be difficult to assess dosage when using a topical cream, it’s still important to know how much CBD is contained in your product. CBD content is generally listed either in milligrams or as a percentage.

For the best possible result, we suggest contacting a doctor that is both registered to, and experienced in prescribing medicinal cannabis. While the range of over the counter CBD options is almost never-ending, the medicinal market is subject to much more stringent regulatory processes. This means that prescribing doctors will provide the best support, advice, and products.

Applying CBD cream

Once you’ve found the right cream for your needs, it’s time to start using it. In most cases, the affected area will need to be clean and dry before the cream is applied. You can rub CBD cream directly into the patch of inflamed skin. Apply the cream gently to avoid any unnecessary irritation.

Studies have shown that applying CBD cream twice a day can produce good results, though it’s important to check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some products can be applied liberally as needed, providing welcome relief for people with uncomfortable and painful psoriasis symptoms. Keep in mind that the ECS receptors in the skin have a ‘saturation point’, meaning that less may be more when it comes to creams and topicals containing CBD.

Using CBD cream has very few serious side effects. Mild side effects of using CBD cream include drowsiness, changes in appetite, dry mouth and nausea. If you do experience more severe side effects, stop using the product and consult a doctor.

Conclusion

Though research is still ongoing, studies suggest that CBD cream may offer a number of benefits for people living with psoriasis. Many people who treat their psoriasis with this natural alternative have anecdotally reported reduced inflammation, reduced itching and reduced pain. Using CBD cream is also likely to help with redness and improve skin elasticity. 

CBD cream may also help to treat the psychological symptoms of psoriasis. From improving sleep to reducing stress, CBD has the potential to help improve the quality of life of people living with the disease and prevent future flare-ups.

As more research is carried out into the links between psoriasis and CBD, medical professionals will gain a clearer understanding of the benefits of treating the condition with cannabidiol. However, with early indications showing significant improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms, CBD based products provide real hope for people living with this chronic condition.

Don't let the stigma surrounding medical cannabis prevent you from getting a suitable treatment. Releaf provides tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, all based on your medical cannabis prescription.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Authors

With five years of journalism and healthcare content creation under her belt, Lucy strives to improve medical cannabis awareness and access in the UK by producing high quality, credible content.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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