Psoriasis: Can Cannabis Help Relieve Symptoms?

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Most people believe that Cannabis only gets used for recreational purposes, but lately, researchers have been looking at the medicinal aspect. Cannabis contains several active elements, known as cannabinoids, and as some studies prove that these might have possible health benefits. Since Cannabis contains more than 120 active elements, all possessing distinct characteristics, it’s indeed challenging for scientists to understand and infer each ingredient’s impacts on a human being’s body.

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive element, is the most researched element of Cannabis. Most studies have revealed that it affects people’s way of thinking, and this property can be exploited to formulate treatments for a variety of medical conditions.

Synthetic THC has been used in three medications that already have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Two medicines, Syndros and Marinol can help treat anorexia arising from several reasons, while Cesamet can help people with nausea and vomiting.

The FDA has also approved CBD (cannabidiol), another element of the cannabis plant in June 2018. Many studies show that it can help to treat seizures arising from epilepsy. In this article, we look at the scientific evidence that suggests the condition of Psoriasis can get treated using Cannabis. Before diving into it, let’s describe Psoriasis and what causes it.

Psoriasis and Cannabis

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a dermal or skin-related condition, which is also painful and itchy. The condition develops due to a disorder related to the immune system, in which many skin cells begin to multiply and start surfacing before they are fully mature. These cells form red spots with a covering of white scales.

These red marks can begin to bleed and crack too. People who have Psoriasis may also experience swelling in certain parts of the body and inflammatory pains. The National Psoriasis Foundation reported that 30 percent of the people who have Psoriasis also start developing psoriatic arthritis, which can result in inflamed and stiff joints.

Currently, there is no cure for Psoriasis, but several studies have suggested that it’s possible to manage its symptoms.

Impacts of Psoriasis on Mental Health

Pain, sleeplessness, and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms of Psoriasis. Not many people know that Psoriasis can also have detrimental effects on a person’s mental health.

The National Psoriasis Foundation reported in one of its research that Psoriasis increases the risk of developing depression, anxiety issues, and other mental health-related disorders. A 2010 research printed in the Archives of Dermatology reported that people who have Psoriasis have a 39% increased risk of developing depression. They’re also at a 31% higher risk of being diagnosed with anxiety.

Does Cannabis Offer a Solution?

Now, we know that the cannabis plant contains numerous active elements called cannabinoids. The human body is responsible for the natural creation of some cannabinoids.

In the human body, chemical messengers or neurotransmitters, also called endocannabinoids, play a role in several bodily functions such as:

  • appetite
  • inflammation
  • immunity
  • mood
  • eye pressure
  • fertility

So, as a person uses Cannabis, the active elements or the cannabinoids present may affect these bodily functions. There are many therapeutic benefits that cannabinoids can offer, including-

Controlling Pain

Cannabis can help relieve inflammatory pains in the body. A 2015 report, published in JAMA, also suggests that cannabinoids can control and mitigate pain.

Now, this potential of the cannabinoids means that it could help relieve the pain associated with Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Contrary to many studies, researchers in Australia found no scientific link between Cannabis use and pain mitigation. However, the volunteers in the research used Cannabis along with opioids to relieve pain, relax, or improve sleep.

Reducing Inflammation

If a person has Psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, then it’s likely that they experience inflammation in their body. A 2009 investigation reported that the cannabinoids present in Cannabis, including several forms of THC, can help control inflammation in the body.

Another study conducted in 2016 suggested that cannabinoids might affect the interaction of the body’s nervous system and immune system, reducing inflammation.

Healing Wounds

The rupturing and the ensuing bleeding of the affected bumpy red patches is one of the most excruciating symptoms of Psoriasis. Research on the subject was published in 2016, where cannabinoid receptors in mice helped to heal wounds. Scientists have also reported on the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids.

Slowing Cell Growth

We know that excessive reproduction of skin cells is the primary reason behind developing Psoriasis. Cannabinoids may decelerate the growth of skin cells, lowering their accumulation on the surface of the skin.

A 2007 study suggested that some cannabinoids like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabinol, cannabidiol, and cannabigerol can help in slowing the growth of skin cells, referred to as keratinocytes, on the skin’s surface. Some researchers are optimistic that cannabinoids can help in treating Psoriasis, even though the scientific evidence on the subject is scarce.

Treatment of Stress and Anxiety

Stress is one of the most common symptoms of Psoriasis. THC, the most researched cannabinoid, can help in relieving stress and anxiety. Researchers say that while lower doses of THC can have positive effects on mood, consuming higher doses may produce an adverse, negative impact on mood.

Reducing Itching

The cannabinoids present in Cannabis can also help in reducing the itching associated with Psoriasis. A 2017 study investigating the significance of Cannabis in dermatology found that a cream containing palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) in its composition affected type-1 cannabinoid receptors. This helped to reduce itching in people suffering from lichen simplex, prurigo, and pruritus.

Possible Risks and Considerations

Before using Cannabis as a treatment for Psoriasis, people must consult their physicians. It’s also vital to remember that Cannabis is illegal in most states for medicinal and recreational purposes. Certified medications containing cannabinoids require a prescription.

People interested in using Cannabis to treat Psoriasis must make an educated decision on whether to use it or not by checking with their local laws.

The most beneficial way of using Cannabis for the treatment of Psoriasis is to put it on the affected areas in the form of an oil or tincture. Many skin-damaging chemicals get released along with cannabis smoke, which can aggravate certain skin-related disorders. It can also have detrimental impacts on the lungs and can slow down the treatment, so people should avoid taking Cannabis in this form.

Nowadays, Cannabis is available as an inhaler. Since there’s limited research backing the safety of consuming it in this form, it’s best to maintain circumspection while using them, and consulting a physician before using.

Conclusion

Although the scientific evidence backing Cannabis as a treatment for Psoriasis isn’t conclusive, some of the elements in Cannabis do show promise. Studies show that there are several positive impacts of cannabinoids on pain receptors and the immune system. This suggests that Cannabis can help relieve the symptoms arising due to Psoriasis.

In the future, medications for the treatment of Psoriasis may contain some active cannabinoids in their compositions. But, for now, people who wish to use Cannabis to manage the condition should consult their doctors and check their local laws about the use of Cannabis.

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