CBD for Poison Rash
Posted by Glenn Beierle on 11/05/2018 in Ailments and Conditions
Updated on January 11, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
A lot of people who like to venture into the woods know to look out for specific plants. Poison ivy, sumac and oak produce an itchy rash when you come into contact with them. But, even the savviest of woodsfolk make mistakes. Plus, you can touch poison in places you wouldn’t expect. Whether you have it right now or want to know what to do when you get it, you need a remedy for poison. A compound in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) can help.
Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Rashes: An Overview
Most people have a reaction to plants like poison oak and ivy. About 85 percent of people get a rash when the oil from poison plants gets in contact with their skin. You can get in direct contact with the plant or touch something that has the oil on it. Burning one of these plants also releases particles in the air that cause the rash when it lands on your skin. Poison causes redness, itchiness, swelling and hives.
Please keep in mind that you should seek emergency care right away if you experience certain symptoms. If your rash develops beyond a few spots in one area, you need medical attention. Severe swelling, a widespread or persistent rash and trouble breathing can all indicate a severe reaction.
The Science Behind Poison-Related Itchiness
Poison plants irritate the skin because of an oil called urushiol. When urushiol touches the skin, it interacts with skin cells called Langerhans cells. The Langerhans cells express a protein called CD1a that activates the immune system’s T cells. These T cells cause inflammation and itchiness by producing proteins called cytokines.
Long story short, it causes an allergic reaction. Our bodies try to fight back against urushiol like an illness. But, when our immune systems unnecessarily react, they can cause discomfort and harm. Patients use CBD and other types of cannabis medicine to reduce this response.
Using CBD for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
CBD and other cannabinoids work naturally with your body to relieve ailments like poison. We each have an endocannabinoid system that creates and uses cannabinoids. A receptor in the endocannabinoid system called CB2 regulates the immune system. When a cannabinoid activates the CB2 receptor, it reduces the immune system’s reaction. CB2 lowers the number of T cells and cytokines that create inflammation.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other primary cannabinoid, CBD doesn’t directly activate these receptors. Instead, it boosts the power of endocannabinoids, which are the cannabinoids our bodies create. When relieving poison, CBD increases your anandamide levels. In turn, the anandamide suppresses your immune response. As a result, you experience less inflammation, itching and redness.
Why Use CBD Instead of Traditional Treatments?
In most cases, you can use home remedies to take care of your poison rash. But, some patients need to use steroid creams to soothe them. Using CBD has the following benefits over typical poison treatments:
- No Prescription Needed: Medications like prednisone require a prescription from a doctor, so you have to make an appointment to get treatment. On the other hand, you can get CBD medicine from a reputable store or a dispensary. This benefit works out well when you don’t need a prescription treatment, but you still need something extra for relief.
- Fewer Side Effects: Steroids and steroid creams have a long list of adverse effects. CBD also causes side effects, but not quite as many. Many patients tolerate CBD well.
- Less Dangerous Side Effects: More importantly, the side effects of CBD don’t cause nearly as much harm as those of steroids. Steroid creams in particular can have side effects like infection, blood sugar problems and psoriasis. Meanwhile, CBD side effects include sleepiness, dry mouth and light-headedness.
- More Vehicles of Administration: Like other marijuana medicines, CBD products come in many forms. In addition to topical creams, you can find CBD oils and edibles that suit younger patients.
Patients who want to try medical cannabis but don’t want a high opt for CBD because it offers multiple health benefits without any psychoactive effects. THC, a cannabinoid that does cause a high, provides added relief when combined with CBD. However, you can use CBD on its own and still address your symptoms — just remember that it does not replace emergency care if poison symptoms become dangerous.
Ways to Use CBD for Poison Rash
While most types of CBD medication will relieve symptoms, some of them work better for skin conditions than others:
- Topicals: Creams, lotions and salves applied to the rash work the best for poison relief. The CBD directly affects the cannabinoids and receptors in the affected skin cells. Test a patch of skin without a rash before you try a topical for the first time. CBD is safe to use, but just like any other treatment, it can cause an allergic reaction.
- Oils: Oil is one of the most accessible forms of CBD medicine. Ingest it, drop it under your tongue or rub it into the rash. Taking it under your tongue or applying to your rash will give you the fastest relief.
- Edibles, Capsules and Pills: Pills: Ingesting CBD will give you delayed relief that lasts longer than the effects of other kinds of medicine. It may not work as effectively as topical application, but it provides a more familiar experience. You can give edibles to children and patients with cognitive disabilities who panic when they see medicine.
Where to Get CBD for Your Poison
You can find CBD at a natural health store or a dispensary. Federal and state laws surrounding CBD products are murky, so check a product’s content before buying. CBD you get from a retail store should have less than 0.3 percent THC. If you have a medical marijuana card, you can get CBD medicine at any dispensary. All adults over 21 can get CBD items from a recreational dispensary in a legal state.