Updated on January 7, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes pain and embarrassment due to dry, red patches that appear on the skin. It’s characterized by a dry, flaky rash with silvery scales. For most people with the disorder, mild outbreaks occur irregularly, causing itching and pain. However, some experience severe outbreaks all over their bodies. Psoriasis can even lead to a more serious condition — psoriatic arthritis.
Although there are many treatments for psoriasis, medical marijuana is showing incredible potential in research studies as a treatment for the condition. It can help prevent psoriasis patches from developing, slow the malfunctioning immune system and ease the pain associated with the condition. If you have pain caused by chronic psoriasis or from psoriatic arthritis, cannabis may be an appropriate treatment option for you.
Psoriasis develops in our body’s own immune system. Doctors believe the condition is an inherited autoimmune disease that causes white blood cells to attack healthy skin cells by mistake.
This results in dry, cracked skin that bleeds or psoriasis patches. The patches are caused by irregularity in the skin cells. Cell turnover is when skin cells growing beneath the skin’s surface rise up. This is a normal bodily function and usually takes about a month. In patients with psoriasis, the process takes a matter of days, creating the characteristic thick, scaly skin called plaques.
Other symptoms of the condition, many of which are extremely painful, include:
Psoriasis sometimes leads to psoriatic arthritis. This condition causes significant inflammation and stiffening of the joints.
The leading causes of pain in psoriasis patients are the dry, painful patches, the inflammation and the stiffened joints. There are several courses of treatments that patients pursue to help with these symptoms — however, each is accompanied by adverse and potentially dangerous side effects, and none of them directly target the pain associated with the condition:
Medical marijuana is an incredible, effective medication for all sorts of pain. The primary reason it seems to work is that its active compounds, called cannabinoids, interacting with the receptors in our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system’s primary purpose is to act as a bridge between mind and body. The receptors of the ECS can be found in the skin, digestive system, nervous system and more, affecting how our body interprets pain and other conditions.
When a patient uses medical marijuana to treat a disorder, the active compounds, primarily THC and CBD, mimic or own cannabinoids found in the ECS. For patients with psoriasis, cannabis-infused lotions can treat the pain associated with the condition in two primary ways:
For more information about medical marijuana treatments and how they could benefit symptoms caused by psoriasis, be sure to speak to a medical marijuana doctor in your state or a local dispensary. Our advice shouldn’t replace that of a qualified professional who knows your circumstances and can speak to you regarding your specific symptoms.