What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin cells. Healthy cells are mistakenly attacked by the immune system and can begin regenerating at up to 10x the normal speed. Usually, new skin cells grow deep in the skin and slowly push their way up and out. They eventually get old and fall off. The average life cycle of a healthy skin cell is about one month. When this process is speeded up skin will begin to build in patches. The affected areas will become red and develop white scale-like patches of excess dry skin. This can happen anywhere but normally it appears around the elbows, scalp, knees and the lower back.
Psoriasis is quite common amongst adults, and it can develop as people mature. Like with many autoimmune disorders, the cause of psoriasis is unclear. For some reason the bodies white blood cells begin attacking healthy skin cells. This case of mistaken identity causes the cells to go into overdrive. There is some evidence that a predisposition to this disorder can be inherited genetically. In other words, your chances of developing psoriasis increase if one of your immediate relatives has it. However, it seems that this is only true for a tiny portion of the people who have this disorder. It is associated with other conditions too such as type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression and heart disease.
What are the symptoms of Psoriasis?
Symptoms can differ depending on the type of psoriasis, the severity of the disorder and the person it is affecting. The symptoms of psoriasis can also occur in cycles. They may clear up for a while and then come back. Certain things can trigger the symptoms to appear. Things like stress, injury, medications, alcohol, infection and more can all trigger psoriasis symptoms to flare up. Some of the symptoms are:
- red raised and inflamed skin
- whitish-silver scaled on the affected areas
- dry skin that cracks and bleeds
- itching and burning sensations on the skin
- painful and swollen joints (especially psoriatic arthritis)
Diagnosing psoriasis is relatively easy, and most doctors can recognise the symptoms quickly. A biopsy of a skin sample provides a more in-depth look. This can be done to determine which type of psoriasis is present. Due to the little knowledge about the cause of psoriasis, there is, unfortunately, no cure.
Treatment options for Psoriasis
There are many existing treatment options for psoriasis. There are various creams and topicals, both steroidal and non-steroidal. These can be applied directly onto the affect areas, providing quick relief. Therapy involving exposure to UV light has proven to be effective too. However, this requires many repeated session and long term treatment with light can potentially cause bigger problems. If these options don’t work then there are systemic medications that can be taken to affect the whole body. These are very powerful, but some people will experience severe side effects. Some doctors suggest a change in your diet too as there are certain trigger foods that can provoke symptoms.
Could CBD help with psoriasis?
Perhaps CBD’s best-known quality is that it is an anti-inflammatory. It is able to inhibit the inflammatory immune response through its interaction with different cannabinoid receptors around the body. There are various links between the regulation of the endocannabinoid system and maintaining a healthy immune system. There are a few studies that show promise for using CBD to relieve symptoms of psoriasis. One study from 2007 found that CBD was able to slow down the production of certain skin cells.
Other cannabinoids such as THC were also examined, they too were able to inhibit the overproduction of skin cells. This gives some hope and provides the grounds for further research. One smaller, but more recent study looked at the effect of CBD enriched topical creams for inflammatory skin diseases. Subjects had either psoriasis, dermatitis, or scarring as a result of a skin condition. They were asked to apply CBD-enriched ointment directly on the affected areas twice a day for 3 months. All subjects reported an improvement in their symptoms. Furthermore, no allergic reactions or negative side effects were reported.
Scientific research aside, there is a mountain of anecdotal evidence that CBD can provide relief for some symptoms of psoriasis. Like with anything, it may not work for everyone. CBD should be used to support homeostasis and maintain a healthy immune system. It is not a cure, or medicine, but can provide relief from many physical and emotional issues. Medical research is limited due to its cost, but what has been discovered so far is very promising. Furthermore, the anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of cannabinoids like CBD is overwhelming. If you are thinking about trying it out it is always best to do as much research as possible, and seek the advice of your doctor.
- Unknown (2017). Does light therapy (phototherapy) help reduce psoriasis symptoms?. [online] NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK435696/ [Accessed 22 Jan. 2020].
- Wilkinson, J. and Williamson, E. (2007). Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of ps… – PubMed – NCBI. [online] NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17157480 [Accessed 21 Jan. 2020].
- Palmieri, B., Laurino, C. and Vadalà, M. (2019). A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30993303/ [Accessed 21 Jan. 2020].