Can Cannabis be used to treat eczema and psoriasis?
Cannabis’ use as an eczema treatment goes as far back as Dr. Henry Granger Piffard, the founder of the world-renowned journal, JAMA Dermatology. Dr. Piffard, who lived from 1842 to 1910 was a leader in the study of dermatology. He writes in the first textbook ever published on dermatological remedies, “a pill of cannabis indica at bedtime has at my hands sometimes afforded relief to the intolerable itching of eczema.”
With anti-inflammatory properties, cannabis is a great treatment for a host of skin conditions, including psoriasis and eczema. Studies show that cannabis can limit the skin cell growth responsible for this condition, and reduce other uncomfortable side-effects. Here’s how to treat psoriasis and eczema with cannabis.
The term “eczema” actually refers to several different types of skin irritations. All of which are characterized by dry, itchy skin. Rashes may occur in particular areas. Specifically, on the face, in the creases of elbows and knees, and on the hands and feet. In severe eczema, the dry, rashy patches can crack, blister, and bleed. This is quite painful.
Eczema symptoms and signs vary widely among individuals. They include:
- Itching, particularly at night and can be severe
- Dry skin
- Brownish-gray to red patches, particularly on feet, hands, wrists, ankles, eyelids, upper chest, neck, knees and inside of elbows in adults
- Raised, small bumps that crust over or leak fluid when scratched
- Cracked, thickened or scaly skin
- Sensitive, swollen or raw skin from scratching
Psoriasis is a common and difficult chronic skin condition. And many South Africans suffer from it. It typically manifests as itchy, scaly and often red patches of skin on the joints. The condition results when the body has an autoimmune condition that produces skin cells too quickly. As a result, immature skin cells appear on the skin’s surface, resulting in discoloration.
For some cases of eczema, dermatologists will prescribe steroid creams. Over time, the body builds up a resistance to this type of cream, which means you have to use larger amounts and up the dosage of your prescription.
Steroid cream can thin your skin, and can even cause rosacea. Worse than that, steroid cream can seep into your bloodstream through the skin. This can increase your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and affect your hormones over time.
Steroid cream is not meant for continued use, though it’s often prescribed as an indefinite cure for eczema. This is why knowing how to treat eczema with cannabis could be better for your health in the long run.
Our skin is one of the primary forms of communication with the world around us. It tells us when we’re too hot or cold, when we’re being touched, and helps us understand our environment through sensation. It’s also one of our first lines of defence from harmful pathogens and substances. So, it’s no surprise that the skin actually contains a wealth of specialized immune cells to help us quickly heal wounds and protect us from harm.
So, it’s no surprise that the skin actually contains a wealth of specialized immune cells to help us quickly heal wounds and protect us from harm.
Cannabis interacts with these immune cells. When applied topically, compounds in Cannabis bind to cell receptors in the skin’s immune cells. This is super handy when you have some type of allergic rash. Cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, are immuno-suppressant. That is, they dampen the immune system. When you get a rash and your skin flares up, the immune cells in your skin trigger an inflammatory response.
One of the most intriguing findings comes from a 2007 study that tested the effects of five different cannabinoids (including everybody’s favourites THC and CBD) on skin cells that were induced to hyper-productivity in vitro. All five cannabinoids inhibited proliferation. (That’s good news!) But here’s something that flouted all expectation: Blocking both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors had no effect on the outcome. In other words, the cannabinoids were operating by some means other than the two scientifically recognized pathways.
Cannabis also treats eczema by controlling a bacteria that commonly causes it. Staphylococcus aureus colonization is a normal bacteria found in humans. Its side effects don’t always require treatment, but can lead to severe cases of eczema.
This isn’t only a physical condition: It can also affect your mental health. Two separate studies published by the National Psoriasis Foundation and the Archives of Dermatology link psoriasis to increased depression and anxiety.
Cannabis skin care products are powerful medicines.
The treatment goal for eczema is to prevent and relieve itching that may cause infection. Physicians recommend creams and lotions since eczema causes your skin to be itchy and dry, and these products help to keep your epidermis moist.
You apply these products to your skin when it’s damp, such as after taking a bath or shower. This helps your skin preserve its moisture. You may also relieve your itching with cold compresses.
Always consult with your doctor before starting or stopping any medical treatment.