Active elements in cannabis, called cannabinoids, may help reduce inflammation, pain, and itching in psoriasis.

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated chronic inflammatory disease, meaning that changes in a person’s immune function cause an inflammatory response and, in turn, outward symptoms.

In psoriasis, this inflammation leads to a buildup of cells on the skin’s surface. These form discolored patches with a covering of pink or silvery scales. Some researchers believe that cannabis may be an effective treatment for this itchy and painful condition.

This article discusses the scientific evidence on the health benefits of cannabis for psoriasis.

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Cannabis contains chemicals called cannabinoids. The human body also produces some cannabinoids naturally.

In the body, chemical messengers called endocannabinoids play a role in many functions, including:

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

When a person uses cannabis, the cannabinoids in the drug may affect some of these bodily functions.

Researchers believe that some cannabinoids may offer several possible health benefits. These include the following:

Reducing inflammation

Research suggests that various cannabinoids have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and may mediate inflammatory responses.

Reducing inflammation is a core part of psoriasis treatment and can reduce pain, scaling, and other symptoms.

Learn more about psoriasis and inflammation here.

Slowing cell growth

In people with psoriasis, skin cells reproduce too quickly. Cannabinoids may influence skin cell growth and reduce their accumulation on the skin’s surface. However, there is a lack of controlled human research in this area.

Controlling pain

There is significant scientific evidence to indicate that cannabinoids can relieve pain and reduce the use of opioid pain medications.

This ability may mean that cannabis could help people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to manage the pain and discomfort relating to these conditions.

Learn more about cannabis and pain relief here.

Reducing itching

The cannabinoids in cannabis may relieve the itching that occurs with certain skin conditions, including psoriasis.

A 2017 review exploring the relevance of cannabis in dermatology noted that a cream containing palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which affects cannabinoid type-1 receptors, appeared to reduce itching in people with prurigo, lichen simplex, and pruritus.

The authors suggested that cannabinoids could play a role in reducing itching.

Healing wounds

One of the most painful symptoms of psoriasis is the cracking and subsequent bleeding of the affected skin patches.

Treatments, including cannabinoids, may assist wound healing in psoriasis. The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may also help in wound healing.

Psoriasis is a long-term condition that currently has no known cure. Over time, it can impact a person’s mental well-being.

Stress can be a trigger for psoriasis flare-ups. There are also links between psoriasis and depression and between depression and inflammation more generally.

In 2017, researchers reported that a low dose of THC reduced stress in people undertaking a public speaking task. However, higher doses were likely to increase anxiety.

People should speak with a healthcare professional before using cannabis for psoriasis.

It is critical to remember that cannabis is only legal in some states for both recreational and medical purposes. Approved medications containing cannabinoids may need a prescription.

Those who are interested in using cannabis for psoriasis should check the local laws in their area so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not to use it.

Some of the ingredients in cannabis show promise as a treatment for psoriasis.

The positive effects of cannabinoids on the immune system and pain receptors mean that cannabis might relieve psoriasis symptoms. It is also possible that future medications may include some of the active ingredients in this drug.

As with any new treatment, people considering cannabis to manage psoriasis should discuss their plans with their doctor. They should also refer to their local laws about cannabis and cannabinoid use.

It is important to remember that medicinal cannabis is a complementary treatment, meaning people should use it as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan.