Out of all of CBD's skin benefits, its potential to alleviate psoriasis is one of the most intriguing. This non-psychoactive compound that's naturally present in the cannabis plant has diverse and wide-reaching benefits, so it could be perfect for helping with a condition as complex as psoriasis.
Though psoriasis seems like the typical skin disorder, it's actually an auto-immune disease that can have overarching effects on the body. As a result, CBD's effect on the endocannabinoid system can actually have mitigating effects on a few of its symptoms.
The Lowdown on Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an unpleasant skin condition where skin cells start dividing faster than they can be shed. It leads to scaly, inflamed patches of skin that can itch or even hurt. It's thought to be an auto-immune disorder, which means that the body gets confused and starts attacking its own skin.
It's a life-long disease, and like many other skin conditions, it can flare up during certain times or stay more dormant at other times. It can show up anywhere on the body, but flare ups are most common on the elbows, knees, scalp, and back.
It often comes hand in hand with psoriatic arthritis, which leads to joint pain. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, people with psoriasis are also an increased risk of heart disease, lymphomas, nonmelanoma skin cancers, Crohn's, and more.
How CBD Can Alleviate Psoriasis
When we usually think of CBD for skin disorders, we immediately consider topical options, but since psoriasis is an internal disorder it's actually ingested CBD that can have the greatest impact. Other cannabinoids can also have a positive effect, so we think that full-spectrum or broad-spectrum hemp products are going to be even more effective than CBD isolates.
When ingested, CBD has wide-reaching effects since it influences the endocannabinoid system, which is a system of neurotransmitters in the body. It binds to a specific receptor, CB2, that is present in immune tissues and can influence the immune system.
In one study, CBD (along with a few other cannabinoids) was able to have an inhibiting effect on skin cell proliferation, which is corroborated by many experiences of people with psoriasis who find that after taking CBD flare-ups of flaky skin become less severe.
Research specifically on cannabinoids and psoriasis is still limited, but what exists is promising! Researchers posit that CBD can help by working as an anti-inflammatory to mitigate the most annoying symptoms of psoriasis: pain, itchiness, and redness.
For immediate relief, topical CBD ointments have still been shown to have an impact, so while ingested CBD is more promising, it can be helpful to also have a topical on hand.
The great thing about CBD is that it doesn't have any contraindications with common medications for psoriasis, so instead of trying it as a replacement to other treatments, it can be introduced as a complementary element.
We still don't completely understand all of the mechanisms behind psoriasis or the way that CBD affects it, but thankfully, this situation is slowly changing. More research is constantly being published. Right now, a group of rheumatology researchers in Denmark is conducting a clinical trial on the effects of oral CBD on patients with psoriatic arthritis, which will give us even more understanding.