In Italy 3 million people suffer from psoriasis. The 84% of patients is disappointed by traditional treatments and in 90 % of cases, abandons them. These are the data reported by the ADIPSO survey (Association for the Defense of Psoriatic patients) conducted on 5,278 questionnaires completed by patients and 2,560 by medical specialists.
The problem of ineffective treatments, for this particular condition, was already known, but in recent years a new hope emerges on the horizon. Confirmations of the beneficial effects of cannabis against skin problems, such as psoriasis and dermatitis, are increasing.
The focal point of clinical studies include the strong anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol (CBD), which by acting on the human endocannabinoid system is able to soothe inflammation of the dermis, playing a beneficial action on the skin cells.
What is Psoriasis
It isn’t an infectious disease nor contagious. Its most noticeable signs are the characteristic circumscribed erythematic squamous speckles.
Psoriasis is not related to sex or age and skin injuries can occur in any portion of the cutis, from the palms of the hands to the soles of the feet. Psoriasis have many variants: the most common (80% of cases) is the “plaque” variant, that manifests itself with red or pink plaques, well circumscribed and whitish scales.
Guttate psoriasis, instead, has an incidence of 10% on the total cases, characterized by small and red papules (tiny lesions in relief). It appears specially in the upper part of the chest and can sometimes extend to the scalp.
Erythodermal psoriasis appears in 3% of cases and generates big, inflamed spots on large areas of the dermis. It is one of the most serious forms, because it often causes severe discomfort for the patient due to the intense itching and the constant burning sensation.
Pustular psoriasis (3% of the total cases) causes the emergence of areas characterized by a good number of very sensitive pustules, sometimes limiting themselves to the surface of the hands or feet. These skin lesions are painful and psoriasis, in this particular form it becomes a disabling disease.
Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease that affects the joints and is directly associated with the presence of skin psoriasis. In three quarters of cases psoriasis is the "alarm bell" for the subsequent development of arthritis.
Those affected feel well-located sensations of pain (at the feet or hands, or at the elbows or knees) and experience a progressive reduction in the ability to perform large movements with the body.
In general, patients feel stiffness in the joints, particularly in the hours after waking up. In some special cases, psoriasis can "overlap" with other skin conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis.
Many studies have investigated the factors underlying the onset of the disease. The causes have not yet been clarified, but it is probably believed that in addition to the genetic and immunological component, environmental factors or possible past traumas may contribute to the development of the disease.
Studies on cannabis and psoriasis
Scientific research is demonstrating the benefits that topical use of products containing cannabidiol (CBD) or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may result in patients with psoriasis. The two main active ingredients of the hemp plant exert, an influence to mitigate the symptoms of psoriasis.
They act on the inflammation state of the skin, typical of the disease. One of the first investigations that discovered this important anti-inflammatory role of the active ingredients contained in cannabis dates back to 2009 and already suggested that further research be carried out to test the application areas in medicine.
A few years later, in 2016, a systematic review once again highlighted how the active ingredients of cannabis can be used successfully in the treatment of various forms of psoriasis and the latter publication indicated cannabis as a promising ally in the fight against the disease.
One of the most common manifestations of psoriasis is the too rapid reproduction of skin cells. In 2007, researchers at the Medical School of Nottingham University observed that some active ingredients of the cannabis plant - THC, CBD and others - were able to slow down the abnormal growth of keratinocytes, the most common epidermal cells.
These evidences have prompted researchers to suggest the development of products containing those active ingredients to be used to slow down the process of uncontrolled growth of skin cells. In 2015 an important article published in JAMA described the role of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain derived from pathological conditions, including skin diseases.
Instead, it dates back to 2017, one of the most recent revisions of the progress of research on the relationship between cannabis and psoriasis.
The review was edited by researchers at the University of Colorado and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. In the long analysis of the current state of research, the authors have highlighted the clear link between the use (topical and not) of cannabis and a substantial reduction of skin diseases and related symptoms. The very clear reference is precisely to psoriasis and its characteristic manifestations. The effectiveness of cannabis, according to studies, is the result of its known anti-inflammatory properties.
Despite every day more and more evidence of this quality of cannabis emerges, the research is far from being arrested. A large part of the research, in fact, has been carried out on animal samples and the action of the active ingredients of cannabis on the human being is, even more, worthy of further interest from the medical-scientific community.
Mechanisms of interaction of cannabinoids
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, lipid-based endogenous neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors and cannabinoid receptor proteins, which are expressed throughout the central and peripheral nervous system of vertebrates.
The endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of a wide variety of physiological and cognitive processes.
These include appetite, sensation of pain, mood, memory, response to some of the cognitive and physiological effects of physical exercise and the immune system. There are two main endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 (identified in 1990) and CB2 (discovered three years later, in 1993). The mechanisms that act as the basis of a disease such as psoriasis, involve the human's immune system.
The endocannabinoid system "communicates" with the immune system and acts on the regulation of some physiological functions. Thanks to medical and scientific research, the complex relationships that make the endocannabinoid system contribute to the cellular balance of our skin are clearer every day.
In the case of psoriasis, the inflammation of the skin triggers a reaction that leads to premature maturation of the cells, which subsequently leads to characteristic lesions of the disease.
Cannabis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory action, plays a role in regulating this response of our organism. Cannabidiol (CBD) acts on the CB2 receptor of the endocannabinoid system and contributes to the inhibition of cell proliferation and to the reduction of excess cytokine production.
Moreover, in recent years there has been no lack of scientific evidence regarding the CBD's ability to contribute to the reduction of sebum production (skin grade), thus making cannabidiol also interesting for the use of prevention against disorders such as juvenile acne.
The role of cannabis in mitigating a condition of chronic pain due to injuries on the skin is also not to be overlooked by many people with psoriasis. The benefits of CBD, THC and the other active ingredients of cannabis have given new hope to patients suffering from psoriasis, which due to the ineffectiveness of traditional treatments, are inclined to abandon the therapeutic path. Cannabis, at this time, is bringing results where many other drugs had failed before.
Topical use of CBD
Scientific evidence on the benefits of cannabis for the skin is getting stronger. Likewise, there are growing questions about how to take the active ingredients of cannabis - in particular CBD - with the aim of exercising their action on the skin.
It is right to clarify that cannabidiol taken in the airways (vaporized or smoked) has no function on the dermis. To find the effects it is necessary to apply the CBD directly on the affected skin area.
This is the reason why a multitude of people around the world produce and use a wide variety of topical products that contain cannabidiol.
Oils, ointments, creams and even lip balms, packed with cannabidiol extracted from the plant and hemp seeds, are increasingly used by those suffering from a form of psoriasis and also by those who want to alleviate the symptoms of a dermatitis or some other pathology of the skin. Among the products that are most used as a remedy for the skin, CBD oil stands out.
The ointment applied to the skin, once absorbed, causes CBD to intervene on the endocannabinoid system, soothing the symptoms of psoriasis and relieving pain, thanks to the combined anti-inflammatory action. The CBD oil should be applied gently to the affected area of the skin and allowed to act.
The amount of CBD to be applied is variable and depends on the type of person, his response to the CBD and the state in which the disease is.
CBD Enecta oils are available in three grades - 3%, 10% and 24% - and are a perfect range to meet everyone's needs. The CBD Enecta oil is produced and tested in specialized laboratories and certified in terms of purity and safety, under strict and stringent regulations.
The product contains cold-pressed hemp seed oil, cannabidiol, terpenes, vitamin E and other naturally occurring hemp molecules in the extract. Essentially, as researchers recall, is the use of a CBD oil that is dermatologically tested, rich in terpenes and which is produced during a controlled chain and monitored at every stage.
The CBD contained in Enecta products is obtained from cannabis plants grown on organic and certified soils and grown throughout Italy, especially in Abruzzo, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. The benefits of topical CBD have recently gone beyond the application in the medical field, also affecting the cosmetics industry.
CBD and psoriasis: testimony
In the end, as always, what matters is the final result. For years now we have read the testimonies of patients who have been able to mitigate the symptoms of a chronic disease such as psoriasis. The numbers proposed by the ADIPSO survey, cited at the beginning of this article, often hide very painful stories and personal events.
The majority of patients with psoriasis, as already mentioned, after a short time, give up the treatment, but also there is a strong risk of developing a depressive syndrome. Topical products based on cannabis have offered a new chance to all these people. One of these cases is that of Francesca V., who for years has fought against psoriasis.
After years of cortisone drugs and continuous attempts, Francesca decided to try an oil at the CBD - Premium Hemp Extract 10% of Enecta - observing its benefits after a short time.
Today Francesca is able to live with this obstinate skin disease. You can read the testimony of Francesca, in which she tells the reasons that led her to use a CBD oil to treat her psoriasis and the benefits she found.