Cannabis is proving to be an effective treatment for a wide number of medical conditions including Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, and chemotherapy-induced nausea
There is also mounting evidence that cannabis has a profound effect on the immune system. Which leads us to our next question: Is cannabis an effective treatment for psoriasis?
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system mistakenly identifies a foreign invader within your body and produces white blood cells in response. These cells, known as T cells, then proceed to attack your body’s healthy cells.
The condition is characterized by red, itchy patches of skin caused by the buildup of immature T cells on the skin’s surface. Areas of the body most commonly affected are the back of the forearms, shins, around the navel, and the scalp.
Somewhere between 10 to 20 percent of people who have psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis, a form of chronic inflammatory arthritis that causes painful swelling and stiffness of the joints. If left untreated, it can even lead to permanent joint damage.
Psoriasis is thought to be a genetic condition that is triggered by environmental factors. Scientists have found 25 different genes that increase a person’s likelihood of developing psoriasis, but it is stress that seems to induce most outbreaks. Many patients also report the worsening of symptoms when chronic infections are present, as well as when there is a dramatic change in the season and climate.
Psoriasis and mental health
The numerous uncomfortable symptoms of psoriasis – such as pain, fatigue, and sleeplessness – can have a profound toll on the mental health of sufferers, as one can imagine.
Up to 60 percent of psoriasis patients report significant psychiatric symptoms, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. The organization also notes that those who suffer from psoriasis are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Cannabis as a psoriasis treatment
While psoriasis isn’t curable, there are a number of useful treatments that can help patients to manage their symptoms. These include several different drug and light therapies, although some have serious side effects and others become less effective as patients build up a resistance to them.
In light of the physical and emotional strain of psoriasis, new treatment options are very much in need. Given the wealth of recent research on cannabis and its effectiveness in treating a wide variety of conditions, it is now being explored as a possible treatment option for psoriasis.
In order to access the value of cannabis in the treatment of psoriasis, research has focused on a number of different aspects of the disease.
Slowing cell growth
Some studies, such as this one, show that cannabis may be useful in slowing the rapid growth of keratinocytes, which are the immature skin cells that psoriasis patients produce. The authors of the above study go on to state that their results support a potential role for cannabinoids in the treatment of psoriasis.
Cannabis is a common intervention for sufferers of pain – it may even be more effective than opioids in controlling acute and neuropathic pain. This paper suggests cannabis may also have the ability to reduce chronic pain and postoperative pain.
Suppressing the immune response
Although much more research is needed, there are some studies which point to cannabis being an effective immunomodulator that can diminish the immune response. This can reduce the severity of inflammation associated with some conditions, including autoimmune disorders like psoriasis. This paper, published in Nature Reviews. Immunology, gives credence to the wealth of information that indicates cannabis to be an effective immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory agent.
While most of this research has focused on the oral application of cannabis, many psoriasis patients also us cannabis oil topically, reporting that it helps controls the irritation and proliferation of speed irritations whilst reduces inflammation.
Due to the fact that cannabis is still classed as a Schedule I substance under the United States Controlled Substances Act, research into its therapeutic uses has been restricted. However, the recent relaxation of a number of state laws, along with widespread mainstream attention on cannabis, has seen more important research initiated.
The next few years are extremely exciting in relation to the medicinal uses of cannabis and, as the above evidence points to, it may well become a valuable agent in the treatment of autoimmune disorders such as psoriasis.
[Featured image credit-Pixabay]