Helpful tips and information about using cannabis to treat psoriasis and other skin-related issues.
What is Psoriasis?
The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) describes psoriasis as an immune-mediated skin disease characterized by the inflammation of immature skin cells from a dysfunctional immune system.
It is unclear what the exact cause of psoriasis is, and symptoms can occur at any age among men, women, children, and people of all ethnicities. When symptoms begin, the most common age range is between ages 15 and 25 years old, and they are typically long-term with highs and lows in regards to severity.
How common is it?
- There are more than 8 million people with psoriasis in the United States.
- 2 to 3 percent of the entire population, or approximately 125 million people worldwide, have psoriasis, as stated by the World Psoriasis Day association.
What triggers it?
While the specific cause is unknown, psoriasis is a skin condition that is thought to be caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors. The known facts are that it is not contagious and is caused by a weak immune system.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the most common triggers:
- skin infections
- Strep throat
- Cold, dry weather conditions
- Bite, scrape, cut, or sunburn
- High-stress levels
- Smoking and secondhand smoke
- Heavy alcohol use
- Lithium-based, high blood pressure, and antimalarial medications
- Rapid withdrawal from corticosteroids
People with psoriasis can experience a variety of other symptoms, ranging from mild to severe:
- red patches of skin cells ranging from a few spots to covering larger areas of the body
- scaly skin with silver tones
- dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- itching and burning of the skin
- skin’s surface soreness
- thickened or brittle nails
- Stiff and inflamed joints
Types of Psoriasis
There are many different types of psoriasis:
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis; symptoms included dry and red, scaly patches of raised skin typically on elbows, knees, scalp, and low back. It is characterized as an abnormal proliferation and differentiation of human keratinocytes leading to epidermal hyperplasia.
Pustular psoriasis presents itself in pus-filled skin legions. It usually includes widespread patches on the palms of hands and soles of feet. Although not as expected, this one is generally moderately severe on the psoriasis area severity index.
Inverse psoriasis is commonly found in the skin folds of the groin, buttocks, and breast areas. It can be triggered by a fungal infection and excessive sweating and movement, and its t cells typically thrive in a fatty environment.
Guttate psoriasis typically affects younger adults and children. It can be triggered by an infection such as strep throat that can weaken immune cells and may include small, droplet-shaped legions on arms and legs.
Nail psoriasis affects the fingernails and toenails. It can cause pitting, discoloration, loose or separated nails, and in severe cases even cause the nails to crumble.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the least common type of psoriasis. It can cause extreme itching, peeling, and burning across the entire body.
Psoriatic arthritis is characterized by swollen and painful joints. It can affect any joint, so its severity depends significantly on the area it impacts on the body. In severe forms, it can result in permanent joint damage.
Does weed help with psoriatic arthritis?
An article by Elizabeth Hanes, RN for Healthgrades reads:
“Researchers currently think taking in cannabinoids from the cannabis plant may help activate the body’s endocannabinoid system and facilitate its’ effects in dialing down the body’s inflammatory response, which could result in reducing the symptoms of diseases like psoriasis and PsA. Both THC and CBD can influence symptoms in inflammatory diseases. Which substance you use depends on which symptoms you want to alleviate.”
Are there treatment options or a cure?
There is not currently a cure for psoriasis as the origin of the disease is still widely unknown.
However, there are a few treatment options and a drug comprised of ingredients that help to treat psoriasis that the FDA approves:
- Hydrocortisone creams
- CBD oils and topicals
- Oral Medications
- Biologics injections
- Light Therapy
Is psoriasis a COVID risk?
Studies are currently being done regarding an increased risk of hospitalization among psoriasis patients. While no direct connection has been found, more research is being pursued in relation to the coronavirus and immunosuppressive therapy and medications.
If you are currently treating psoriasis with medication, continue following your plan and discussing these risks with your doctor.
Adam Friedman, MD Chair of Dermatology, Residency Program Director and Director of the Supportive Oncodermatology Clinic at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, researched the connection between CBD and psoriasis.
His literature review concluded that CBD could have a positive effect on white blood cells and could certainly be used as a complementary treatment with a patient’s current treatment plan.
History of Cannabis and Skin Care
Cannabis, especially CBD, is highly prevalent in today’s society. CBD use to control pain and treat skin conditions can be traced back to ancient times, as they used it in abundance during religious practices and rituals.
The earliest uses of cannabis for skincare can be traced back to Ancient Egypt. Pharaoh Ramses II was known to partake in cannabis use and encouraged others to use the plant. Back then, hemp assisted in creating buildings and textiles.
During the 20th century, cannabis was extensively criminalized due to a societal outcry; however, changing laws and further research into the compounds within the plant led to a slow but vast reconsideration of their potential health benefits. The use of cannabis is becoming more widely accepted today due to the balancing effects of this particular cannabis-derived compound.
Is weed good for psoriasis patients?
Recent studies from medicine and health sciences professionals suggest that certain cannabis products may effectively treat the overactive immune system causing psoriatic disease. It can connect with the cannabinoid receptors of the body to combat the proinflammatory t cell responses needed.
It has been used to treat rare skin conditions, Crohn’s disease, neuropathic pain, particular autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, acute psychosocial stress, and many other conditions. More research is needed to make an accurate scientific determination of the health benefits of medical marijuana for people with psoriasis.
Is it legal?
The marijuana plant is still federally illegal in the United States. However, statewide legality and cannabis use laws vary from state to state. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and any part of the cannabis plant that contains 0.3% or less THC concentration. The manufacturing and selling of CBD is still a legal gray area for most of the country.
Other skin disorders
Dandruff is often caused by severe to moderate scalp psoriasis or an infection that causes scalp inflammation, itching, irritation, flaking, and redness.
CBD products such as shampoo, conditioner, scalp scrubs, and treatments could help relieve the itching and scratching. The cannabinoid system can also benefit from the antimicrobial effects of CBD to treat psoriasis.
Eczema is a skin condition that results in patches of red, flaky skin cells. It can be triggered by dry skin, chemical irritants, or stress.
CBD, hemp, and hemp seed oil could provide benefits through CBD ointment and oils, creams, salves, or moisturizers to relieve pain, provide skin hydration, and stop the irritation of those red patches of skin cells.
CBD and Psoriasis
Recent peer-reviewed studies within the dermatological science field show that CBD as a complementary treatment with other medications and sometimes even alone as an oil or topical therapy for affected skin offers potential benefits for people with psoriasis.
Certain CBD dose-related effects may even offer an immune response in slowing cell growth so that new skin cells react differently.
Can CBD help?
“CBD can bind to receptors in the human body that are part of the cannabinoid system, called the endocannabinoid system, that can influence pain, itch, and mechanisms of inflammation,” Dr. Friedman says.
“We know that when CBD binds to the cannabinoid receptor type 2 as well as other receptors, it can be involved in not just anti-inflammatory activity, but it can become the chemical messengers to facilitate an array of activities that resolve inflammation. It can stimulate the secretion and recruitment of skin cells that are important for removing debris and allowing for proper skin maturation and healing.”
Top Weed Strains for Skin Care
Mango Kush is our list’s tropical strain. It’s a potent Indica-dominant strain with a THC concentration reaching around 20 percent. Many psoriasis patients struggle with mental health conditions and stress, so strains like Mango are great for relaxation. It’s the perfect weed for sleeping due to the intense body high.
Cannatonic is a popular medical marijuana strain. It’s a hybrid cross between MK Ultra and G-13 Haze and boasts a high CBD content of around 12 percent. This earthy strain is known for its healing components and is a novel treatment sure to leave you feeling happy and uplifted.
Sour Tsunami produces dark green and dense buds that are known to be an effective treatment for inflammation and itch relief. It is a well-balanced strain and provides a slight high to help you focus and stress less.
Harlequin is a rare strain that is a medical marijuana favorite among the cannabis industry. This fruity, Sativa-dominant strain has around 10 percent CBD and 7-15 percent THC levels. It’s a mild high with a CBD affect that can clear the mind and promote creativity. It’s the ideal strain to treat pain and skin conditions.
Ringo’s Gift is named after its breeder, Lawrence Ringo. It’s regularly used as an effective treatment for skincare products due to the 24 percent CBD content. This is the perfect weed for salves, balms, and lotions with anti-inflammatory and pain relief qualities.
Skunk No. 1 has been around for over forty years and is well known for its intense euphoric high. This is a well-balanced strain that provides both a mental and body high. It’s a great choice if you are looking for anti-inflammatory qualities, stress relief, or to relieve pain and insomnia.
White Widow is an iconic and potent hybrid strain. It’s sure to stand out with beautiful frosty trichomes and bright orange and purple hues. While it may not directly treat psoriasis, it will provide positive emotional responses that can combat stress, insomnia, and depression.
Purple Goddess is a fruity and floral Indica-dominant hybrid. It is a helpful strain to treat psoriasis due to the intense body high. This weed will leave you feeling stress-free and with much less physical pain.
Ways to Use Cannabis
There are endless ways to use the active ingredient derived from cannabis. Even if you aren’t looking for the “high,” there are plenty of options for anyone that wants to experiment with the connection between weed and psoriasis.
CBD ointments, hemp salves, scalp scrubs, moisturizers
Oils and Concentrates
Dabbing and vaping wax, consuming oil, cannabutter for edibles
choose an Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid strain and research the benefits. Or select one from our list above.
Best Products on the Market
Here are some of the most highly recommended products to treat psoriasis in the cannabis market and links to find THC, hemp, CBD oil, and other cannabidiol extracts sold online:
As always, we recommend speaking with your dermatologist or another healthcare provider before making any changes or adding CBD use to your psoriasis treatment.
However, recent studies and continued research strongly suggest you may be able to find some health benefits and even symptom relief from the right cannabis products.
Visit Leafy Mate to discover top medical marijuana doctors, top marijuana brands, and CBD products to fit your skincare needs.