How CBD Oil and Topicals Can Help Psoriasis
More than 8 million Americans live with psoriasis—a chronic autoimmune condition. People with psoriasis experience an overactive immune system that makes their skin cells grow too quickly, and this in turn causes red, scaly, painful patches of skin cells to build up. These plaques are ugly, itchy, and disruptive.
Psoriasis is incurable, so the only option is to treat the symptoms and find ways to cope. For those millions of people who are searching for options to help control their symptoms, CBD for psoriasis is a new source of hope.
In this post, we’ll explore an overview of Psoriasis and why it’s so tough to cope with. We’ll talk about the challenges of treating psoriasis, including with topicals. We’ll also discuss treating psoriasis with CBD, and why CBD has so much potential in this area. Finally, we’ll recommend the best CBD cream for psoriasis that we’ve tried so far.
Overview of Psoriasis
For people with psoriasis, a lifetime of itching is in store—I’m here to tell you. Right now as I sit here typing this, my skin is itching so much, I almost can’t stand it, but for me, that’s pretty normal.
Most patients with psoriasis will have it for life because it’s an incurable, chronic autoimmune disease, although there will be times when it’s better or flare-ups when it is worse. Medications are available, many of them topical and designed to soothe irritation and reduce inflammation. They are sometimes kind of helpful, but ask anyone with psoriasis: they don’t stop the problem. Nothing does.
Women have a worse problem with psoriasis overall because fluctuations in hormones can and do cause shifts in psoriasis symptoms, and this often causes women to experience flare-ups during and after pregnancy. In fact, many women experience a psoriasis flare-up just after delivery.
Psoriatic arthritis is caused by inflammation and affects about 30 percent of psoriasis patients. Elevated levels of inflammation can also cause complications such as typical arthritis, heart disease, thyroid issues, diabetes, and kidney problems in people with psoriasis. For all of these reasons, it’s important for people with psoriasis to watch cholesterol levels and maintain their weight.
There are even numerous food triggers for psoriasis patients; many people with the disorder cannot eat things like processed or junk foods, eggs, citrus, red meat, tomatoes, dairy, or alcohol without flare-ups. (This article is being written by an involuntary vegan.) In other words, psoriasis truly affects every aspect of your life.
Foods that are high in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables may help fight oxidative stress and inflammation, so these are recommended for patients with psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions. Some patients benefit from eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish like sardines and salmon which may reduce inflammation in the body. Anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric and oils like coconut or olive are another natural option to try—but either way, you’ll be altering your diet.
The worst part about something like psoriasis, from someone who deals with it, is the mental health impact and social consequences. It can be embarrassing and stressful. Yes, I’m used to the staring and questions—and still they stress me out. And guess what? Stress makes it worse.
So, all of this should point to a few factors for you:
- Living with psoriasis isn’t easy. In fact, it sucks. It touches every part of your day, and causes tremendous quality of life issues.
- There’s no cure for psoriasis but every reason to try things that might work and won’t hurt.
- Everyone with psoriasis dreams of that day they walk outside in shorts or whatever and never have to worry about it again.
So, this is why CBD for psoriasis is now a trend: necessity.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Symptoms and signs of psoriasis vary from person to person, but typically they include:
- Red skin patches covered with scales that are thick and silvery
- Smaller, scaly spots of skin
- Cracked, dry skin that may itch or bleed
- Burning, itching, or soreness
- Pitted, thickened, or ridged nails
- Stiff and swollen joints
Patches of psoriasis can vary from a few small spots of scaly skin that resemble dandruff to serious eruptions that cover major portions of the body. The ankles, elbows, face, knees (front and back), legs, lower back, palms, scalp, and soles of the feet are the most commonly affected areas of the body.
Most kinds of psoriasis flare up for a few weeks or months in cycles and then subside or even go into remission.
Types of Psoriasis
There are multiple kinds of psoriasis, including:
Plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common type, causing dry, red, raised patches of skin covered with silvery scales called lesions. The plaques might be few or numerous; tender, itchy or both; and they typically appear on the knees, elbows, scalp, and lower back.
Erythrodermic psoriasis. Although it is the least common type of psoriasis, because it can cover the entire body with a peeling, red rash that can burn or itch intensely, erythrodermic psoriasis is one of the more serious varieties.
Guttate psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis is characterized by small, scaling lesions shaped like drops on the arms, legs, or trunk. Typically triggered by strep throat or some other bacterial infection, this variety of psoriasis primarily affects children and young adults.
Inverse psoriasis. Inverse psoriasis mainly affects skin folds near the breasts, groin, and buttocks, and it causes smooth patches of red skin that sweating and friction make worse. This kind of psoriasis can be triggered by fungal infections.
Nail psoriasis. Nail psoriasis can cause abnormal growth, pitting, and discoloration in fingernails and toenails. Psoriatic nails can result in onycholysis, where the nails loosen and separate from the nail bed. In severe cases of psoriasis, the nail can crumble.
Psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis causes painful swelling in any joint, ranging from mild to severe, just like typical arthritis. Symptoms vary, and joint symptoms or nail changes may be the only signs of psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis can progressively damage the joints—in the most serious cases, permanently.
Pustular psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis is a rare variety occurring either in widespread patches as generalized pustular psoriasis or in smaller patches on the soles of the feet or the palms of the hands. The patches themselves consist of pus-filled lesions that are clearly defined, similar to blisters.
Causes and Triggers of Psoriasis
Psoriasis, like similar skin disorders, is considered to be an immune system disorder. It triggers the skin to regenerate too quickly, and in plaque psoriasis, which is the most common type, this too-rapid cell turnover causes red, scaly patches of skin.
What causes the immune system to react this way remains unclear, although psoriasis is definitely not contagious or dangerous to others. Right now, scientists think that both environmental and genetic factors may play a role.
Triggers are an issue for people with psoriasis. In fact, many people who may be predisposed to psoriasis experience wellness and have no symptoms for years until some environmental factor triggers the disease.
Some common psoriasis triggers are:
- Skin injury, including a bug bite, a scrape or cut, a burn, or a severe sunburn
- Infections, either of the skin, or systemic such as strep throat
- Weather, particularly dry, cold conditions
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- Rapid withdrawal of corticosteroids
- Exposure to smoke, from smoking, secondhand smoke, and wildfire
- Certain medications, including antimalarial drugs, lithium, and high blood pressure medications
Risk factors for Psoriasis
Although anyone can develop psoriasis, there are several risk factors according to the NIH. Some you can control more than others:
- Family history. Having one or more parents with psoriasis increases your risk of getting the disease because it runs in families.
- Smoking. Smoking may play a part in the development and onset of psoriasis, so your initial risk, and it may also increase the severity of psoriasis once you get it.
- Stress. High levels of stress, which can affect the immune system, can increase your risk of psoriasis.
Beyond psoriatic arthritis, complications from psoriasis include:
- Other autoimmune diseases such as sclerosis, celiac disease, and the inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s disease
- Eye conditions, such as blepharitis, conjunctivitis, and uveitis
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions
Challenges of Treating Psoriasis
Basically, this is an ongoing war—a series of battles you fight your whole life. You look for the weapons that work best against psoriasis for your body, and you add them to your arsenal. You avoid the triggers that make it worse and hope they’re not everywhere.
Here are some of the treatment options and how they work.
Non-medicated moisturizing products for the skin and bath, such as mineral oil, body creams, moisturizers, bath bombs, and petroleum jelly may reduce the dryness and soothe affected skin from psoriatic plaques.
Medicated topicals are also available in a wide variety, and applying them directly to plaques of psoriatic skin can help reduce skin turn over and inflammation, remove built-up scale, and clear affected skin of plaques. Some common active ingredients for creams and ointments intended for psoriasis include coal tar, corticosteroids like desoximetasone (Topicort), dithranol (anthralin), vitamin D3analogues (for example, calcipotriol), fluocinonide, and retinoids. Each works a bit differently, but they all reduce inflammation and help to normalize skin cell production.
Approaches to UV light therapy such as psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) and UVB phototherapy can reduce psoriasis symptoms effectively for some people. However, you need several sessions per week, which takes time, effort, and money. Also, long-term light therapy can increase your risk of skin cancer.
You might try a systemic agent against psoriasis that resists both topical treatment and phototherapy—that’s a medication you take as a pill or injection. Only people with regular blood and liver function can handle this kind of medication, and if you might become pregnant, you should avoid it. If you ever stop taking your systemic treatment, your psoriasis will probably come back.
There are three primary systemic medications usually used to treat psoriasis: cyclosporine, methotrexate, and retinoids. Cyclosporine and methotrexate are immunosuppressant drugs that work by suppressing and regulating the unhealthy overactive immune system action. However, ulcerations are a risk for patients taking methotrexate.
Retinoids are synthetic forms of vitamin A that can help speed up the skin cell shedding and growth cycle so plaques don’t build up as much. However, retinoids can also make your skin more sensitive and can decrease in effectiveness over time.
For those that have insurance, access to a doctor to inject them, and don’t mind continuing a new therapy for the rest of their lives, biologics are a promising option. These manufactured proteins interrupt the immune overreactions that characterize psoriasis, but in a very specific way. These are very new drugs, so their long-term impact on immune function is unknown, and they must be given by a doctor in-office.
There are also newer laser systems approved to treat psoriasis on the scalp. Obviously, these are an in-office option only, too.
Alternative Therapies for Psoriasis
So, you’ve tried everything and you’re in the same boat as most people with psoriasis: you can either try systemic therapy forever—with varying levels of success and cost, by the way—or you can try something else and hope it works to improve your quality of life.
Fortunately, some research does suggest that changes in diet, skincare routine, and lifestyle can at least help relieve psoriasis symptoms.
Various research studies have found benefits in diets supplemented with fish oils, low energy diets, fasting periods, and vegetarian diets. Fish oils in particular contain Vitamin E and are rich in the two omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Some fish oils also contain vitamin A and vitamin D.
Lifestyle habits also definitely impact psoriasis—at least how severe it is. It may not cure your psoriasis to stop smoking, limit your alcohol consumption, maintain a normal weight, get regular exercise and a good night’s sleep, and manage your stress, but it will probably lessen the severity of your symptoms. (If you figure out how to do all that, please let us know how in the comments.)
Furthermore, hypnotherapy may be an effective treatment for psoriasis if you have access to it where you are and can afford it.
There are a few other alternative therapies out there that get a little less…accessible. For example, researchers have found that the Indigo naturalis plant used in traditional Chinese medicine, also called Qing dai, may be effective in treating psoriasis.
And some spas in Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Serbia, and Turkey offer ichthyotherapy, in which you sit in a pool full of “doctor fish” that eat your icky psoriatic skin. Apparently the outdoor thermal springs these doctor fish live in also have their own beneficial effect, and that’s good because you have to keep going back to the skin-eating spa. (Sorry, this one has an ick factor for us—but then so does psoriasis, so whatever works!)
Our point is this: treatments are tough, expensive, and only somewhat effective. There is plenty of room for a natural remedy that provides more relief.
Can CBD Reduce Symptoms of Psoriasis?
Given that CBD is a proven immune-modulator and anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it would be a workable treatment option against psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that induces inflammation.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body is a naturally-occurring network of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors that regulates homeostasis. Since homeostasis is a balancing act in the body and psoriasis is evidence of certain physiological processes that are out of control, achieving and maintaining homeostasis is of interest here.
One particular study highlights the role of cutaneous cannabinoids in suppressing inflammation and excess growth in the skin’s epithelial layers. Another study connects these skin layers to onset psoriasis and the functional ECS system, describing the way the skin’s cannabinoid receptors help control and balance how the skin cells proliferate.
In other words, research indicates that the layers of human skin contain a functional endocannabinoid system, and cannabinoids act to reduce inflammation along the specific psoriatic pathway in the skin. The science does support CBD as a possible treatment option for psoriasis.
Furthermore, CBD has been proven to effectively treat depression, anxiety, and related mental health issues. These are often connected to psoriasis, so CBD could have additional benefits for these users.
How CBD Oil Works to Alleviate Symptoms of Psoriasis
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate stasis in skin cells, including their immune competence, reproduction, and survival. Pathological skin diseases and conditions such as allergic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis arise when this balance is disrupted.
The CB1 and CB2 receptors are the two primary receptors in the ECS, with CB1 receptors found all over the body and CB2 receptors found mostly in immune system cells. Both endocannabinoids naturally-occurring in the body and phytocannabinoids, which are created by the Cannabis sativa plant, bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are the most notable phytocannabinoids. THC is the intoxicating ingredient of the cannabis plant which may get its users high.
Cannabinoids such as CBD are anti-inflammatories, and are therefore a potential treatment for a range of skin diseases. Cannabinoids, especially THC, are also immunosuppressive and reduce cytokines. Cytokines cause inflammation and rapid skin cell development, and psoriasis itself is an immunosuppressive disorder, making cannabinoids and THC of particular interest to psoriasis sufferers.
Another study found that cannabinoids inhibit psoriasis lesions, also called keratinocytes, from growing as rapidly. In addition, research indicates that the way the ECS moderates interactions between the CNS and the immune system suggests cannabinoids as a psoriasis treatment. In fact, a range of science suggests that cannabinoid products might be used to treat various skin diseases such as eczema, acne, and even skin cancer, along with psoriasis.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Psoriasis
Studies have found that CBD has health benefits for those with psoriasis.
Topical steroids are among the primary traditional medications for psoriasis, and long-term use of them can and often does result in changes in pigmentation, thinning of the skin, easy bruising, stretch marks, dilated blood vessels, and redness. You might switch to oral steroids to avoid those issues, but using them long-term can cause acne, bone fractures, cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased risk of infections, liver damage, obesity, osteoporosis, and poor wound healing.
CBD, on the other hand, has minimal side effects, including tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite or weight. According to the World Health Organization, CBD is also non-addictive. Across the United States, where state laws permit it, the 2018 Farm Bill has made CBD legal at the federal level, and you can buy CBD products without a prescription.
There is more than one kind of psoriasis, and the less common varieties have been studied less—especially in the context of CBD.
The United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved CBD for treating epilepsy. For this reason, there is no standard dosage of CBD for treating psoriasis.
CBD may inhibit Cytochrome P450 enzymes which metabolize steroids. This could make it less effective to use CBD and steroid medications together.
Again, related to the lack of regulation of CBD products, some are not adequately or accurately labeled. This alone can present a trigger danger for someone with psoriasis.
CBD vs Other Alternative Psoriasis Treatments
There are other potential natural remedies for psoriasis, which may be more or less effective depending on the patient and the situation:
- Some have used dead sea bath salts to treat psoriasis.
- Turmeric has proven anti-inflammatory properties, although they are limited.
Compared to steroids, CBD has no adverse reactions and minimal side effects. And in contrast to turmeric and dead sea salt or even light therapy, CBD produces a suite of benefits to relieve related ailments such as depression and psoriatic arthritis.
Is it better to use a CBD topical cream vs a CBD oil for psoriasis?
Since flare-ups of psoriasis can be triggered by many things, like illness, stress, and external factors like allergies, it’s not always easy to know which form of CBD might provide the most relief during an episode. Here are some things to consider.
The skin on the face is delicate and sensitive, not to mention prone to acne. If you’re experiencing psoriasis on the face and want to treat it topically, consider a CBD product specifically formulated for the face. Or, this might be a time to try CBD oil.
The same type of question arises when the issue is psoriasis of the scalp, which can be itchy and uncomfortable like dandruff, even though those products are often not right for the problem. You need to care for your hair, but the pain and burning are the more immediate problem. You want either CBD products that will soothe the scalp, or at least not irritate it, or a CBD oil to take orally.
When stress is triggering psoriasis flare-ups, aim for the right kind of CBD for managing your relaxation. Many users find CBD oil helps as a preventative and then use a CBD vape for acute issues. For psoriasis patients triggered by immune issues, CBD oil or CBD edibles are often similarly the best preventative strategy.
CBD comes in many forms, including:
- capsules and softgels
- edibles, such as beverages, candy, gummies, snacks, and other foods
- oils and tinctures
- topicals, such as balms, creams, lotions, and more (What is CBD lotion and cream? Learn more in our full post)
Which type of CBD is best for psoriasis? There is no one answer—find what works for you personally.
Remember, before you start anything new for psoriasis (or any health condition), you should talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider. Although CBD is widely understood to be safe, the industry is poorly regulated. Look for third-party testing results, and remember that if you substitute CBD for some other medication, that may have an impact on your health.
How to Choose the Right CBD for Psoriasis
Beyond everything else that we’ve said, there are a few more things to consider. First, there are three basic types of CBD oils:
Full-spectrum CBD oil uses all the natural components found in cannabis plants including hemp plants. This means natural essential oils, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids as well as cannabinoids will all be in that CBD product, including trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Together, the active phytonutrients produce the entourage effect, a synergistic suite of therapeutic benefits.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil is a version of full-spectrum CBD oil with all traces of THC removed.
CBD isolates contain only isolated cannabidiol and are extracted down from the rest. You can be sure nothing is in there except the CBD and whatever it is suspended in (along with whatever they’ve added intentionally, of course—just no extra cannabinoids or terpenes).
CBD Oil for Psoriasis – Hemp Products Your Scalp Will Love
A staggering 125 million people have psoriasis worldwide. That’s 2 to 3 percent of the total population.
Psoriasis is currently incurable, so how do you treat this chronic skin condition?
CBD is thought to be an effective treatment for psoriasis and is a popular option for improving the quality of life of people suffering from this challenging skin disease.
In this article, we will be looking at how psoriasis sufferers can benefit from CBD, what benefits it offers, and where you can find the best CBD for the condition.
Does CBD Help With Psoriasis?
Although psoriasis does not have a cure yet, there are ways to relieve symptoms for a better quality of life. CBD is considered by many experts to be one effective way of treating the condition.
Summary: How CBD may help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis:
- CBD reduces inflammation in the skin
- CBD reduces inflammation in the joints
- CBD offers pain relief
- CBD may reduce excessive skin cell production
How Does CBD Work for Psoriasis?
CBD and other cannabinoids work by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is made up of two receptors — CB1 and CB2. These receptors have been found all around the body and make up the endocannabinoid system. This system helps the brain communicate with the rest of the body.
CBD interacts with these receptors, impacting receptor activity. These interactions can help reduce inflammation, aid pain relief, support the immune system, and reduce a variety of other symptoms.
CB1 receptors are found in the skin (among other places), giving CBD the potential to impact many skin conditions. Studies show that CBD’s interaction with these receptors can positively impact psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions .
The same study suggests that CBD can also slow down excess skin growth, reducing the buildup of excess skin cells involved with psoriasis flare-ups.
The anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD help reduce the swelling, redness, and irritation associated with psoriasis. Both this quality and the pain-relieving qualities of CBD also help reduce swelling and pain in the joints, making it an effective treatment for psoriatic arthritis.
Although research into the effects of CBD on psoriasis is still in the early stages, existing studies do support users’ claims. Many people with psoriasis are already using CBD to treat their condition with excellent results.
Is CBD Oil the Only Option for Psoriasis?
CBD oil isn’t the only option for psoriasis.
When orally consumed CBD is concerned, there are a number of different products that are effective. Gummies, soft gels, capsules, honey sticks, and CBD shots will all give you the same effect. It is up to you which method of consumption fits you best.
Topical CBD products are another option that can be used alone or in conjunction with an orally consumed CBD product. Creams, balms, and roll-ons can help relieve psoriasis symptoms directly at the source.
Studies show that topical CBD products can significantly improve the skin and help reduce symptoms .
Vapable products are also available if you prefer to inhale your CBD. Vaping may have a negative impact on your lungs but this method of consumption has higher bioavailability. This means far more CBD is absorbed when inhaled compared to orally consumed CBD.
Our Top 3 CBD Brands for Psoriasis:
- Royal CBD — Best Overall CBD
- Gold Bee CBD — Best Organic Vegan CBD
- Hemp Bombs CBD — Best Budget CBD
1. Royal CBD Oil
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
Royal CBD is a larger California-based company that offers high-quality premium CBD products. Their motto “Don’t Go Average, Go Royal” sums up what the company is about.
They’re a trusted brand with a wide range of products. This large brand has more infrastructure and produces CBD on a bigger scale, so you can be sure the product you need will be available.
Like Gold Bee, Royal extracts their CBD from organic hemp and gets their products third-party lab tested. They offer full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate products.
They use a CO2 extraction process to acquire their CBD from the raw hemp plant. Their heatless and solvent-less extraction method ensures maximum potency and purity without any nasty chemical residues.
They produce everything from oils of all potencies to balms, creams, and dog treats. If you’re looking for a premium CBD company that has a wide range of products, Royal CBD is a great brand.
Royal CBD has 5-star customer service. They encourage you to contact them by phone, message, or social media if you need advice on dosage, consumption, or which CBD oil will work best for you.
- Wide range of products available
- Multiple potencies available
- 5-star customer service
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate available
- Uses certified organic hemp
- CO2 extraction process
- Excellent cannabinoid profiles in their full-spectrum products — independent lab tested
2. Gold Bee CBD Oil
Gold Bee is a California-based company that focuses on quality rather than quantity. They’re a smaller company that prides itself on producing the highest-quality products by incorporating a slow-diffusion process.
The slow-diffusion extraction process requires a significant amount of time and is done in small batches to ensure consistent quality. For this reason, the company sometimes struggles to keep up with demand.
The attention to detail that this company gives to its CBD products is incredible. Although their slow extraction process slows down production, their oils, gummies, and capsules are of the highest quality.
Gold Bee’s product range is limited, but there is much to say about making a few products well rather than a lot of products averagely.
You will find CBD in oil, capsules, gummies, and their unique organic honey sticks. Potency options are limited, with most of their products coming in high-potency full or broad-spectrum options.
- High-potency products
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and Isolate available
- 100% vegan (except their honey sticks)
- Uses certified organic hemp
- A small company with incredible attention to detail
- Slow-diffusion extraction process
- High terpene and cannabinoid content — independent lab tested
3. Hemp Bombs CBD
Hemp Bombs CBD is a Florida-based brand. They’ve been on the market for over 5 years now and have quite a following with many happy customers. They focus on providing premium products for an affordable price.
They put their attention toward creating high-quality CBD isolates with no full-spectrum or broad-spectrum products in their range. Their product range is wide though, with everything from gummies to pet products.
Hemp bombs extract their CBD from GMO-free organic hemp. They formerly sourced their hemp from Europe, but now the U.S has caught up with organic farming processes they use 100% U.S-grown hemp.
Although Hemp Bombs are happy to reveal where their hemp is sourced from, they don’t reveal how they extract the CBD from it. We can assume that they use a solvent extraction from looking at the independent lab reports.
There are traces of ethanol, ethyl acetate, methanol, and isopropyl alcohol in their oils. These levels are extremely low and are deemed safe for consumption.
Hemp bombs have a page dedicated to lab reports on their website, so you can see potency levels, present terpenes, solvent residues, and bacterial analysis.
Overall, Hemp Bombs CBD is a great option if you’re looking for high-quality isolates on a budget. Perhaps less premium than the last two brands, but far more cost-effective.
- Excellent value for money
- CBD isolate
- Uses U.S-grown organic hemp
- Wide range of products available
- Multiple potencies available
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes uncomfortable skin flaking, redness, and itchy patches. Psoriasis is usually found on the elbows, knees, and scalp but can occur anywhere on the body.
The severity of the condition varies greatly. For some, psoriasis is a minor irritation with small patches developing in one area. For others, it can cause serious problems and dramatically affect the quality of life.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for this chronic disease. For most suffers this is a minor inconvenience but for others, it can cause major discomfort and eventually lead to another, a more severe condition known as psoriatic arthritis.
The Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis varies from person to person and symptoms can differ depending on the severity of the condition. It’s common to have flare-ups of psoriasis with cycles of flaring and subsidence.
There are five common types of psoriasis each with differing symptoms:
1. Plaque Psoriasis
This is the most common form of psoriasis.
Symptoms include raised, dry, red skin with flaky scales of excess skin.
Psoriasis patches are usually found on the elbows, scalp, and knees, the patches of inflamed skin can become itchy, sore, and tender.
2. Nail Psoriasis
Psoriasis on the finger and toenails can cause pitting, discoloration, abnormal nail growth, and in some cases loosening from the nail bed or crumbling of the nail.
3. Guttate Psoriasis
This form of psoriasis is more common in people under the age of 30. This type is caused by bacterial infections such as strep throat. Symptoms include small scaly lesions around the throat, chest, arms, or legs.
4. Inverse Psoriasis
Inverse Psoriasis can occur all over the body. It’s common in skin folds and sweaty areas, it can flare up through exercise or friction. Symptoms include smooth red patches of skin that feel raw and tender.
5. Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis can be mild to severe but is uncomfortable for all its sufferers. It causes swollen, painful, stiff joints. Progressive joint damage is common with permanent damage possible in more serious cases.
How to Use CBD for Psoriasis
There are many different ways to treat psoriasis using CBD.
CBD can be consumed in the form of oil, edibles, and capsules.
Topical products such as balms, creams, and roll-ons are also considered effective treatments for psoriasis.
Whether you choose a full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate is also something to consider.
In this section, we will be looking at the different treatment options and helping you decide what will work best for you.
1. Oils, Gummies, or Capsules?
How you consume CBD for psoriasis is entirely up to you. Taking CBD orally with oil gives you the most flexibility as you can adjust your dose depending on how many drops are taken.
Consuming CBD-infused gummies, capsules, or other edibles makes it easier to regulate how much CBD you are taking throughout the day. Each edible or capsule has a specific dosage, making it easier to monitor your CBD intake.
2. Topical CBD products
Topical products such as creams, balms, and roll-ons can be applied directly to the skin. They have a positive effect on skin health and can be used to treat a variety of chronic skin conditions from eczema to psoriasis.
Cannabis users look for CBD topicals online from reputable sources to instantly relieve their pain or irritation and can be applied directly to the lesions, rashes, and scaly skin that psoriasis causes. They are also perfect for people that don’t want to ingest cannabis products for their psoriasis.
3. Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, or Isolate?
Full-Spectrum CBD — Full-spectrum CBD contains not only CBD but all the other cannabinoids and terpenes that are present in the hemp plant, including THC. To abide by federal law in the U.S and laws across Europe, Full-spectrum CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC.
Broad-Spectrum CBD — Broad-Spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum. It contains all other naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes however THC is removed.
CBD Isolate — CBD isolate is a pure extract. Isolates contain CBD only without any extra cannabinoids or terpenes.
Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products are considered more effective for a wider range of conditions because the cannabinoid profile is more expansive. Cannabinoids and terpenes work in synergy to create the entourage effect.
Research suggests that full and broad-spectrum CBD has more prominent health benefits than isolates . This means they can be effectively used to treat not only psoriasis but other ailments as well.
CBD isolates (containing only CBD) are great for people that have negative reactions to other cannabinoids. Isolates are perfect for first-time users and in the case of psoriasis, are effective in both oral and topical products.
CBD Dosage for Psoriasis
There is no real dosage guide when using CBD for psoriasis.
If you have never used CBD before it is best to start with a low dose and work your way up gradually if you need to. Make sure to monitor how your body reacts to the CBD and stop upping the dose as you see results.
As for topical products, you should apply a small amount to an unaffected area of skin to ensure you do not react to anything in the cream, balm, or gel. Wait for 30 minutes to ensure your skin doesn’t react to the product.
Once you’ve made sure there is no reaction, you can follow the application instructions on your chosen topical. For creams and balms, spreading a thin even layer over the affected area is enough to take effect, other products will need rubbing in to promote absorption.
Final Thoughts: Can CBD Help With Psoriasis?
Unfortunately, psoriasis is currently incurable but it’s certainly treatable. CBD is a great way to combat psoriasis and treat your scars due to this skin condition.
Using orally consumed products alongside topical products will provide you with instant and ongoing relief from your symptoms. If you’re new to CBD remember to start small and work up your dosages to see how you react to the substance.
Make sure you purchase your CBD from a reputable and reliable brand to ensure you are ingesting a safe product that will provide results.
It’s also recommended that you speak to a dermatologist before using CBD to treat your psoriasis. Some medications you currently use may react with CBD, so be sure to check with your doctor if you’re concerned about the medication you’re using.
References Used In This Article
- Jonathan D Wilkinson and Elizabeth M Williamson. (2006). Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis. Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology, 45(2): 87-92.
- B Palmieri, C Laurino, and M Vadalá. (2019). A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. La Clinica Terapeutica vol, 170,2 (2019): e93-e99.
- Ethan B. Russo. (2018). The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2018; 9: 1969.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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Can CBD Relieve Psoriasis Symptoms? Here’s What Doctors Are Saying
There’s a lot more to learn about the potential health benefits of CBD oil, so make sure to consult your dermatologist.
Lambeth Hochwald is a believer that everyone has a story to tell. As a New York City-based journalist, she has been busily covering COVID-19 and its effects on everyone from college students and their parents to restaurant workers and ER doctors. Over the last few decades, she’s written for the New York Post, CNN, Parade, WebMD, Millie, Reside, the Food Network, Delish, and Architectural Digest, always with the same mandate to be compassionate, hence the hashtag #compassionatejournalism that she includes in her email auto-signature. When she’s not juggling assignments, she’s helping to teach the next generation of journalists in her role as an adjunct professor of journalism at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
With all of the headlines pointing to the healing powers of cannabidiol (CBD)—one of more than 80 chemical compounds in the cannabis plant—it’s natural to wonder: Can using CBD oil help relieve psoriasis symptoms?
The reviews are mixed. While there’s anecdotal evidence that CBD oil, with its far-ranging anti-inflammatory properties, can help treat this autoimmune disease affecting some 7.5 million Americans, studies to date remain inconclusive.
This isn’t to say that CBD oil shouldn’t be considered as an additional treatment option for psoriasis patients who experience plaque psoriasis—which causes dry, raised, and red skin lesions (or plaques) covered with silvery scales on body areas such as the back of the elbows, over the kneecaps, and on the lower back.
In fact, the preliminary science investigating the ways that CBD, the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant, can help treat eczema and psoriasis shows some promise, says Jordan Tishler, MD, a physician and cannabis expert in Boston.
“However, while these studies are generally encouraging, they’re nowhere near conclusive,” Dr. Tishler tells Health.
What we need to learn about how CBD might work
Although clinical research connecting the health benefits of CBD oil to cannabis is slow to materialize, there’s still a lot of patient-driven interest in whether CBD, which can be used as an oil, balm, cream, or salve, can help treat psoriasis.
Some studies have been encouraging, including one study conducted in 2007, which found that cannabinoids, including CBD, slowed down the growth and division of skin cells involved in psoriatic skin rashes.
“We know that cannabinoids like CBD can reduce inflammation and pain,” David Casarett, MD, chief of palliative care at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, tells Health. “Again, what we’re seeing right now is that most of the evidence is circumstantial but promising.”
Another very small study of psoriasis patients conducted in 2019 is equally compelling. The study was led by researchers in Italy and showed that applying topical CBD-enriched ointment on psoriatic skin did help to reduce psoriasis symptoms.
In the study, five psoriasis patients applied CBD ointment to those areas of their skin affected by psoriasis twice a day for three months. After that time, researchers concluded that the ointment was not only safe and effective but it improved the quality of life for psoriasis patients.
How CBD might improve daily life
In addition to helping to treat skin itching and irritation, CBD may also help psoriasis patients control pain and reduce inflammation.
That’s why Hervé Damas, MD, a physician at Grassroots Medicine and Wellness, a cannabis medical practice in Miami, says he uses CBD—which has few side effects and is considered safe overall—as a part of the psoriasis treatment plans he recommends for his patients.
“For dermatological issues such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema, I’ve found CBD to be very effective at decreasing the flare-ups, irritation, and discomfort my patients experience,” he tells Health. “Depending on the severity of the disease, I will use either topical creams or a combination of topical and systemic treatments.”
However, other experts aren’t convinced that CBD oil is as effective as current therapies, which include topical steroid creams and ointments, topical vitamin D creams, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory creams, and ultraviolet light therapy. In addition, psoriasis patients may also take immunosuppressant medications, like cyclosporine and methotrexate, and newer biologic medications to treat their symptoms.
“The effects of cannabis are relatively weak compared to topical steroids like hydrocortisone,” says Dr. Tishler. “In short, at this time I would not recommend any topical cannabis or CBD products to treat a serious illness like psoriasis.”
In the end, since the exact nature of how CBD works to help treat psoriasis remains unknown and psoriasis is a serious skin condition, consider this our best advice: Until more studies are done on CBD and psoriasis, be sure to speak with your dermatologist to plan a treatment course that’s right for you.
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