EducationCan cannabis cream offer relief from psoriasis?

Can cannabis cream offer relief from psoriasis?

7 min read

Lucy MacKinnon

Can cannabis cream offer relief from psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that’s linked to the body’s immune system. It can emerge at any point in a person’s life but is most likely to develop between the ages of 15 and 25. People living with psoriasis experience increased skin cell production. This results in inflamed patches of skin appearing on the body. These patches are often covered with dry ‘scales’ and can cause irritation and pain to the sufferer.

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Many people living with psoriasis treat their symptoms with topical creams. These creams help to improve hydration, reduce inflammation, and ease itching. An increasing number of sufferers are choosing creams that contain cannabis to help manage their symptoms. If you’re considering a medicinal cannabis cream for psoriasis treatment and want to learn more about its pros and cons, here’s everything you need to know.

Cannabis and its properties

Native to Central and South Asia, the cannabis plant has been used for recreational, ritualistic, and therapeutic purposes for millennia. The plant contains at least 113 known cannabinoids, as well as a range of other compounds that have been shown to bring potential relief for a range of conditions. The most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD) which is totally non-intoxicating. Both of these compounds are phytocannabinoids, meaning cannabinoids that are produced by plants and not the human body.

These days, many medical cannabis-based products have high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. This means they offer many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the ‘high’. What’s more, much of the CBD oil used in creams, drops, vapes, and capsules is actually derived from hemp, a cousin of the cannabis plant, rather than from cannabis itself.

Research into the benefits of CBD oil is still ongoing, but early trials and anecdotal evidence have been encouraging. Products containing CBD oil have been shown to have the potential to:

  • Ease anxiety
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Ease chronic pain
  • Help with addiction

As a result, CBD oils are now being applied by many people as an effective treatment for a variety of chronic and acute conditions. They should never be seen as some sort of magic cure, but administered alongside traditional medicines for the best results. These products are gaining attention and an increasing number of studies are being carried out into their efficacy.

Cannabis cream and psoriasis

Humans have a complex system of cannabinoid receptors running throughout the body, including in the skin. Known as the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, it helps regulate and normalise many physiological processes, including pain, mood, stress, sleep, and immune system function.

The body makes its own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) to activate the ECS system. However, the potential healing and curative effects linked to ECS modulation can also be stimulated by plant-based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) like CBD. Studies have indicated that CBD can interact with the ECS to reduce inflammation, itching, and pain, potentially offering relief for a range of skin issues.

Although more research is needed, CBD oil has been shown to have significant therapeutic potential in treating a range of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Products containing CBD oil may help to reduce inflammation, regulate the immune response and improve skin barrier function. This can help to ease the symptoms of psoriasis and improve the quality of life of people living with the condition.

A number of studies have now shown a link between medicinal cannabis cream and improved psoriasis symptoms. One piece of research, published in 2019, showed that psoriasis patients who applied CBD ointment directly to their skin twice a day saw significant improvements in their condition. The study also found that no irritant or allergic reactions were documented during the period of treatment.

In 2020, scientists looked at the efficacy of shampoo containing broad-spectrum CBD oil in treating scalp inflammation. Their research found that, after two weeks of administration, patients reported reduced itching and burning. The study also found that there were significant reductions in arborising vessel/twisted capillary inflammation and scaling.

Choosing and applying cannabis cream for psoriasis

UK law requires cannabis cream to contain no more than 0.2% THC unless it is prescribed by a doctor that is registered and qualified to do so. It’s essential you do your research before you buy, as not all cannabis creams are created equal. Medicinal cannabis products are subject to a much higher regulatory standard than those sold over the counter, although that is not to say that all over-the-counter options are of bad quality. Just that, if you do choose to go down the everyday consumer route, make sure to only buy from companies that offer a Certificate of Analysis (CoA), and read a bunch of patient-based reviews before making your decision. 

When deciding on a cannabis cream to treat your psoriasis, make sure you select a product from a trusted manufacturer. Check that the percentage or milligram content of CBD is clearly listed on the label, and look for a product that’s made from organically grown hemp.

It’s also important to ensure the cannabis cream you choose uses full-spectrum (or board spectrum) CBD. Full-spectrum CBD oil is made using the whole plant and contains terpenes (volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants) which help to achieve a more potent ‘entourage effect’. 

Hold on, what is the ‘entourage effect’?

The ‘entourage effect’ is a widely accepted hypothesis stating that, when administered in conjunction, the benefits received from all the chemical components of the source plant will outweigh the benefits from any singular cannabinoid. Although it is still a theory, recent research points to it being more than likely factual.

The plant compounds should also be extracted using CO2 supercritical extraction (rather than alcohol or butane extraction) to preserve the cannabinoids and terpenes contained in the compound.

For the best possible symptom reduction outcomes, it is always recommended to seek the advice of a doctor that is both legally qualified to prescribe medicinal cannabis products and who has experience doing so for psoriasis in particular. Only they will be able to offer tailored, specific dosage guidelines for your particular set of symptoms.

If you do decide to grab a bottle of over-the-counter cannabis cream, it is advised that you begin by applying it twice a day and adjust as needed. Apply it directly to the affected area to relieve itching and inflammation. As well as creams, balms, salves and transdermal CBD patches are available. The product you choose will depend on your personal preferences and on the severity of your symptoms.

Although there are no known serious side effects of using cannabis cream, it may cause drowsiness, irritability, or mild agitation.

Conclusion

Medical cannabis – and CBD in particular – may be a potentially potent symptomatic reduction option that works directly with the body’s ECS system to reduce inflammation, itching and pain, giving psoriasis sufferers relief from their chronic symptoms. What’s more, CBD has been shown to promote the immune system, relieve stress and improve sleep. This can help to reduce the chances of a flare-up and help people living with psoriasis improve their quality of life.

Though more research is required, studies carried out to date show that applying cannabis cream can have significant and beneficial results for people living with psoriasis, with no reported side effects. Adding a cannabis cream to your current treatment plan could help to alleviate your symptoms and help you to prevent painful flare-ups in the future.

At Releaf, we believe that access to medical cannabis is important. That's why we offer tailored monthly packages based on your cannabis prescription, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection. 

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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How long does it take to feel the effects of THC oil?

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Editorial Team