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CBD For Psoriasis: What the Research Says

Research suggests that CBD may provide benefits to people suffering from psoriasis. We’ll discuss how to find a quality CBD product & how to use it.

Article By
Katrina Lubiano , last updated on June 18, 2021

Psoriasis is a complex autoimmune disease that affects the skin with no known cause or cure. While it’s non-communicable, it affects 2-3% of the population to some extent.

The most frustrating aspect of living with psoriasis is the sense of hopelessness for a cure and how it affects your self-esteem. New research suggests that CBD oil may offer relief towards symptoms of psoriasis and may address some underlying causes.

Here we’ll discuss what the research says and how to use CBD oil for psoriasis. We’ll also cover some potential side effects to keep an eye out for.

  • Table of Contents

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious skin disease that affects nearly 100 million people worldwide [1]. It’s characterized by inflamed lesions covered with silvery-white scabs of dry, dead skin.

While psoriasis can develop at any age, it’s most common in the age group between 50–69 and affects 10-15% of children under 10 years of age [2].

There’s no clear origin of psoriasis, but most research suggests it’s a result of genetic predisposition and the role of autoimmune dysfunction.

When you have psoriasis, your immune system is overactive, initiating the inflammatory response throughout the body as it thinks it needs to protect you from an outside threat. This inflammation is what’s causing the symptoms you see on your skin.

The normal skin cycle lasts anywhere from 20–30 days. People with psoriasis experience rapid skin cell renewal in a matter of days, and the body can’t shed the older skin cells in this fast time frame, causing a build-up of skin cells that appear as rough plaques.

Psoriasis is a systemic disease, which means there are multiple conditions that are increased in psoriasis patients — such as cardiovascular or liver disease. Patients with psoriasis also have a higher risk of depression.

The triggers for psoriasis flare-ups are difficult to pinpoint as they can be different for everyone. This makes treating psoriasis more challenging.

Symptoms Of Psoriasis

The symptoms of psoriasis may present differently from one person to the next, but we’ll discuss the most common signs.

Signs & Symptoms of Psoriasis:

  • Pink to red scaly patches of skin
  • Small scaling spots
  • Dry, cracked skin prone to bleeding
  • Itching, burning, soreness
  • Pitted or ridged nails
  • Joint soreness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

People often confuse psoriasis with eczema, which presents very similarly. It’s important that you visit your doctor to make the correct diagnosis.

There are five common types of psoriasis.

1. Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. It’s characterized by raised, red patches covered with a  build-up of dead skin that’s prone to cracking and bleeding.

These plaque patches often show up on the joints (knees, elbows, fingers), back, and scalp — they’re extremely itchy and painful.

2. Guttate Psoriasis

After plaque psoriasis, guttate is the second most common form of this disease. Guttate psoriasis appears as small, red, dot-like, or sometimes tear-drop-shaped lesions most commonly seen in children and in young adults. These lesions don’t hurt and prone to cracking like plague outbreaks, but they can be extremely itchy.

Related: Best CBD Oils & Gummies For Children.

3. Inverse Psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis (hidden psoriasis) lesions are found in body folds like the groin, behind the knee, inside the elbows, and underarms. Inverse psoriasis lesions are red, shiny, and smooth and may feel moist to touch.

4. Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis appears as white pustules surrounded by red, inflamed skin. These painful blisters contain puss concentrated with white blood cells, but there’s no presence of an infection, and it’s not contagious. These can appear anywhere on the body, but it’s common on the hands and feet.

5. Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Although much rarer than the other forms of psoriasis discusses, erythrodermic psoriasis is a severe form of psoriasis that can lead to widespread skin inflammation covering most of the body that can be intensely itchy and painful.

How To Manage Psoriasis Symptoms

There are a number of conventional ways people with psoriasis manage their symptoms.

The first line of treatment for psoriasis involves reducing and eliminating the painful symptoms caused by excess skin growth. Since conditions related to a poor autoimmune system function are extremely complex, the outcome of treatments can vary drastically from one patient to the next.

People often turn to dermatologists for psoriasis treatment because there are limited and very few over-the-counter treatments that help with reducing psoriasis flare-ups.

Conventional Treatment Options For Psoriasis:

  1. Topical medication — Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed topical ointments for treating psoriasis lesions.
  2. Phototherapy — Light therapy for psoriasis uses UVA and UVB rays to reduce inflammation and reduce the fast skin cell growth.
  3. Injectable biologic drugs — Biologics is a new form of therapy that involves blocking cytokines, which are part of the immune response responsible for inflammation and fast cell overproduction.

The Endocannabinoid System & Skin Health

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the primary system that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC interact with to exert their effects.

The ECS is composed of lipid-based messengers called endocannabinoids, CB1 and CB2 receptors, and enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids that work together to help establish homeostasis (balance).

As our largest organ, the skin plays an important role in protecting our bodies from our environment and regulating our temperature, hormone production, and immune response. The skin has its own immune system that’s constantly working to protect us from external threats such as viruses, allergens, and bacteria — and comes to the rescue to heal the organ when damaged.

The CB1 and CB2 receptors in the skin helps with regulating keratinocyte proliferation, which triggers inflammation response.

Top Benefits Of CBD Oil For Psoriasis

CBD has been researched for its unique properties that could be a gentle and more natural way of treating psoriasis flare-ups with little to no adverse effects.

CBD is a plant-based cannabinoid that closely resembles the endocannabinoids that our bodies produce. By supplementing CBD and other cannabinoids in our system, we’re supporting our body’s communicating systems for maintaining homeostasis.

Let’s jump into some of the mechanisms through which CBD can treat psoriasis symptoms.

CBD Has Anti-Inflammatory Actions

Similar to how those biologic medications work to inhibit cytokines released by the immune system that trigger inflammation and cell growth, CBD has been studied for its effects on inhibiting inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and interferon-gamma [3].

Additionally, CBD delays the breakdown of the endocannabinoid, anandamide. Which is a powerful inflammation regulator throughout the body.

CBD Has Pain-Relieving Actions

Many people seek out CBD oil because of its pain-relieving qualities. Given that common symptoms of psoriasis include itching and a painful burning sensation on the plaques, CBD oil may help to alleviate these symptoms.

CBD has a unique interaction with the vanilloid receptor (TPRV1), which is responsible for our perception of pain and regulating body temperature [4].

When CBD activates the vanilloid receptor, it shifts the messaging signals associated with the pain trigger. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD can be a useful treatment of painful psoriasis flare-ups when used topically or ingested without intoxication or risk of addiction like other popular pain medications.

CBD Has Antibacterial Properties

When you have a disease on your skin, it can create open wounds that are prone to infections from bacteria. Applying CBD topically has been shown to help protect and strengthen the natural skin barrier [5].

It’s believed that the cannabis plant produces cannabinoids to protect the plant from bacteria and other insects. When applied to the skin, you can leverage its anti-infective agents to protect your open wounds from bacteria and promote healing.

CBD Can Support Healthy Stress Levels

Psychological stress can wreak havoc on our immune system. Long-term exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can cause a dysfunctional immune system, which may trigger psoriasis flare-ups.

CBD has been shown to promote healthy stress levels by boosting levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. With higher concentrations of GABA, your brain and slow down the firing signals from stress, helping you feel more calm and relaxed.

How To Use CBD Oil For Psoriasis

CBD is a versatile compound. You can find it in so many different products to suit a variety of different lifestyles. The best way to use CBD is to find a product that you can implement into your daily routine with ease.

CBD behaves more like a supplement than a band-aid medicinal compound. You should take it consistently to get the best results as it fortifies the endocannabinoid system.

Here are some tips for using CBD oil effectively to manage psoriasis symptoms.

1. Use Full Spectrum CBD

While CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid in hemp, it’s not the only therapeutic compound with anti-inflammatory properties.

Minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and CBC, along with terpenes like linalool, myrcene, and alpha-pinene can support CBD’s effects and provide added anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits.

Experts agree that full-spectrum CBD products will yield more potent and well-rounded effects over CBD isolate.

2. Topical CBD

Topical CBD products such as creams, lotions, and balms are an excellent way to deliver cannabinoids to the affected areas of the skin. The additional ingredients in formulas such as jojoba oil, shea butter, and herbs can help to relieve flare-ups and strengthen the skin barrier.

If you’re looking to soothe psoriasis flare-ups on your face. Make sure you find topical formulas that don’t contain comedogenic ingredients. Comedogenic ingredients like coconut oil, artificial fragrances, and dyes can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts.

3. Supplement CBD

Gummies, CBD oil, or capsules is an excellent wait to get a high, daily dose of CBD to support the endocannabinoid system.

This is the method that will be most effective for supporting stress levels. When combined with topical applications of CBD, you can increase the anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions to help with psoriasis.

Do Your Research First!

Before adding a CBD product to your cart, do your research. There are a lot of CBD products that promise the world but underdeliver.

To get around a lot of the marketing jargon and wasting your hard-earned cash on ineffective, and potentially dangerous products,  look for a certificate of analysis of the CBD extract conducted by a third-party lab.

Lab tests don’t lie.

Since these independent lab tests aren’t required, some CBD brands will skip this step because it’s an extra cost to their production. However, serious CBD brands that value customer transparency will send their extract batches off for testing.

The Certificate Of Analysis verifies:

  • It has a legal limit of THC (up to 0.3% in full-spectrum CBD)
  • Cannabinoid and terpene profile
  • Free from contaminants (harmful pesticides, fertilizers, heavy metals, and mycotoxins)

Related: Scam CBD Companies to Avoid.

What Are The Side-Effects Of CBD?

While CBD is considered a safe compound, even when taken in large doses — it’s not without its potential side effects. Luckily, these are short-term effects and should disappear as the effects of CBD begin to wear off (3-6 hours).

Some of the side-effects associated with CBD include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin irritation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth

CBD affects everyone differently, depending on their baseline health and genetics.

Keep in mind that certain medications may negatively interact with cannabinoids, so always speak with your doctor first before using CBD to address any medical condition, especially when you’re on medications.

To avoid a negative experience with CBD you can:

  1. Start with small doses. Start with a low dose and increase the doses gradually until you research the desired level of effects.
  2. Set reasonable expectations. CBD isn’t a cure-all compound, so don’t expect all your ailments to disappear overnight. Natural-based supplements can help to make your symptoms more manageable. There is no known cure for psoriasis.

Final Thoughts: Using CBD For Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a complex inflammatory skin disease with no known cure — but psoriasis treatments such as injectable biologic medication and CBD can provide many psoriasis-sufferers with relief.

Topicals, along with a daily edible form of CBD together offer the most support for delivering analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and stress reduction to help relieve skin irritation and manage energy levels.

It’s important that you look for quality ingredients in your CBD products from reputable brands to avoid worsening skin conditions and wasted money.

References:

  1. World Health Organization. (2017). Global diffusion of eHealth: making universal health coverage achievable: report of the third global survey on eHealth. World Health Organization.
  2. Queiro, R., Tejón, P., Alonso, S., & Coto, P. (2014). Age at disease onset: a key factor for understanding psoriatic disease. Rheumatology, 53(7), 1178-1185.
  3. te Velde, A. A., Huijbens, R. J., Heije, K., de Vries, J. E., & Figdor, C. G. (1990). Interleukin-4 (IL-4) inhibits secretion of IL-1 beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and IL-6 by human monocytes.
  4. Muller, C., Morales, P., & Reggio, P. H. (2019). Cannabinoid ligands targeting TRP channels. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience, 11, 487.
  5. Karas, J. A., Wong, L. J., Paulin, O. K., Mazeh, A. C., Hussein, M. H., Li, J., & Velkov, T. (2020). The antimicrobial activity of cannabinoids. Antibiotics, 9(7), 406.

Further Reading

Further Reading