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Does CBD Help With Psoriasis?

Bryan McAllister

By Bryan McAllister

September 27, 2022

Close-up of young woman scratching her arm while sitting on the stool in the home kitchen.

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As anyone who suffers from psoriasis will tell you, it’s more than just red, flaky skin. Itchiness, burning, and sharp, stabbing pain in the joints are just a few of the symptoms from those living with a psoriatic condition.

Often little helps, save moisturization, either from humidity or lotions and oils applied to the skin. But with so many CBD-infused skin creams and lotions now available on the market, someone living with psoriasis might naturally ask themselves: Can cannabinoids offer any potential relief? Let’s take a look at some answers below.

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What is CBD?

CBD stands for

, one of the more commonly recognizable compounds present in the cannabis plant. It, alongside it’s likewise-famous cousin THC, make up the primary chemicals sought-after in cannabis for their various effects. However, CBD and THC differ in some very important ways, particularly where psoriasis and other skin conditions are concerned.

The human body contains two primary types of receptors for receiving cannabinoids, referred to as our CB1 and our CB2 receptors. THC effects the CB1 receptors in our brain, leading to the associated sensation of “getting high” that comes with cannabis use. CBD, however, targets the CB2 receptors located throughout our body, and

, can stimulate areas of the body that work to relax muscles, reduce overall inflammation, and help with both sleep disorders and depression (each common in those who suffer from a psoriatic issue).

CBD has grown exponentially in popularity over the last decade, particularly after the signing of the 2016 Farm Bill, which essentially made non Delta 9 THC cannabinoids legal at a federal level. Since its legalization, CBD now comes in a wide variety of forms to take (more on that in a bit), and can be found at many retail outlets (and more on that later as well).

A woman is scratching a red blistered arm due to a foreign body intolerance or an insect bite.
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What is Psoriasis?

“Psoriasis” can refer to a

of related diseases, though “plaque psoriasis” is the most common and often referred-to, with over 90% of all identified cases belonging to this category. As a generalized term, psoriasis is an inflammation provided by abnormal immune activity, typically affecting both joints and the epidermal (IE: skin) layer.

Typically viewed as a genetic disease, psoriasis can often be triggered by environmental factors and lifestyle conditions, including smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and overall living conditions. Immunodeficiency diseases, such as HIV, can also bring forth and exaggerate symptoms of psoriasis in those affected.

Psoriasis often manifests as red, scale-like skin, characterized by extreme dryness and a burning/itching sensation. Often the skin will flake and peel at the site of an outbreak, fueled by the rapid regrowth and production of skin cells. This inflammation extends underneath the skin as well, and can cause extreme stiffness, swelling, and sensations of pain upon movement or physical stress (such as lifting heavy objects); this form of arthritis will likely affect a 30% of those suffering from surface-based psoriatic issues.

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How Does CBD Help With Psoriasis?

Cosmetic cream made of natural cannabis, hemp, moisturizing lotion with CBD content. Copy space for your design use,text
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The true answer to this is, as with so many things related to cannabinoids, currently unknown. Existing studies on the links between CBD usage and psoriasis are slim, and those that have been done typically rely on animal test subjects, which are not always compatible with studies run on human candidates. While rigorous studies may be somewhat difficult to come by, though, drawing a line between CBD’s proven anti-inflammatory properties and seeking relief from psoriatic conditions, particularly those epidermal and arthritic, seems fairly easy to do.

What we do know is that CBD does generally reduce inflammation, as mentioned above, and can also help to activate the body’s natural cleaning processes, such as oil production. According to a

research study from the Nigrisoli Hospital of Bologna, Italy, shampoo infused with CBD performed well at reducing itching and burning sensations in those suffering from scalp psoriasis, as well as overall inflammation in the treated areas. Likewise, another study from showed that patients using a twice-daily application of CBD ointment had “significant improvements” in overall elasticity and hydration at the affected sites.

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How to Use CBD for Psoriasis

Shopping for CBD can feel overwhelming, with a seemingly-endless variety of options, styles, and brands available on store shelves. Ultimately there are three main ways to take CBD: Topically, orally, or via inhalation, each with its own benefits and unique applications where psoriasis is involved.

For most, the immediate thought turns to topical applications, such as ointments or lotions. Typically mixed with a variety of other ingredients meant to relax the skin and or body, ointments and creams that have been infused with CBD are best applied to the affected area two-to-three times per day, depending on need and ointment strength. Our recommendation is to apply directly to the effected area if possible, with an ointment or salve that contains as few adulterants and extraneous oils as possible – outside oils can block the CBD from soaking into the psoriasis-hardened and thick skin, where it is likely to be most effective.

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Ingested CBD will typically work best on internal inflammation, IE: those suffering from arthritic psoriasis, and can be found in a wide array of edible products, from cookies to gummy bears to liquid tinctures. While an edible such as a CBD-infused gummy may take anywhere from forty five minutes to two hours to show signs of effect, a tincture held underneath the tongue is likely to be noticed more quickly, though also fade more quickly as well.

Inhaled CBD, IE: via smokable hemp or a vaporizer, is likely to have the most immediately noticeable effects, and can work well as a “quick relief” solution for those suffering extreme and sudden pains. Carrying a CBD vaporizer is an easy, discreet way to ensure your medication is always available, and will likely be easier on the lungs than smoking as well.

As said at the top all three methods have their own benefits, and can be combined as well for maximum targeted relief. Note, however, that while CBD may help with the symptoms of psoriasis, it cannot and will not have the same pain-relieving power as other medications your doctor may prescribe. And while interactions with CBD are not particularly commonplace it is important to check with your healthcare provider first, prior to adding CBD of any kind into your medical routine, to make sure cannabinoids are a safe treatment option for you as an individual.

Are There Risks to Taking CBD for Psoriasis?

As mentioned above,

, and it is important to check with your doctor before adding any kind of cannabinoids to your health regime, CBD, THC, or otherwise.

And while taking CBD itself is fairly harmless, when done in moderation and regulation, too much CBD in one’s diet can lead to liver malfunctions and disease. In addition, the unregulated nature of CBD supplements means that being a smart consumer is more important than ever; learning

and understanding what to look for in safe, well-manufactured CBD products is vital for anyone shopping for CBD products in today’s crowded marketplace.

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Our top tip? Make sure you’re purchasing from a reputable dealer, either brick-and-mortar retail or online, with well-established brand names that have easily-accessible laboratory analysis reports available. When all else fails, ask your healthcare provider what products and stores they think are worth visiting – if CBD is a good treatment for you, your doctor is likely to have a solid recommendation on where to make a purchase.

Wrapping Up

Though there is little direct evidence on the topic of taking CBD for psoriasis relief there does seem to be enough anecdotal evidence to suggest a link at the very least, and given the generally non-harmful nature of CBD we can understand the curiosity from those looking for a way to help calm their itching skin and aching joints. Until more studies and research have been done we can’t give a definitive answer to the question of whether or not CBD will help with psoriasis, but we can say it might be worth bringing up with your medical practitioner to see if CBD is right for you. Until next time!

Bryan McAllister

About The Author

Bryan McAllister

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