Updated on January 7, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Red areas on your skin that burn or itch. Thick, scaly patches or dry and cracked skin that bleeds. Aching joints and constant stiffness. If you have severe psoriasis, all or some of these symptoms are a regular occurrence.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning your immune system’s T-cells, which are supposed to defend against outside disease, begin attacking healthy cells. In this case, the T-cells attack skin cells. This causes red patches which then develop plaques, or built up layers of skin. These plaques or scales are created by your body growing new skin cells faster than it can shed dead ones.
Although this condition is nothing to be ashamed of, flare-ups can be a source of embarrassment, as severe cases cause red patches or scaling all over the body. And since psoriasis can only be treated, not cured, some patients feel isolated and depressed. They fear the scorn of people who don’t understand this non-contagious condition. However, it’s important to seek treatment, as modern medicine offers quite a few options to help relieve the pain and prevent outbreaks. The goal is to bring the condition into remission, where flare-ups are few and far between.
Research in medical marijuana therapies has led to the discovery that cannabis is an effective treatment for psoriasis. It has many benefits for the condition and could lead to extended periods of remission. However, there are many different methods to use marijuana medication — smoking, vaporization, edibles and topicals. So, which is the best way for psoriasis patients to take cannabis meds? And is there a mode of use that’s not recommended for psoriasis patients?
You may be wondering what benefits cannabis presents to those with severe psoriasis. The answer lies in our endocannabinoid system. Also called the ECS, this system influences many different bodily functions through neural receptors throughout our body. These receptors act as a bridge between our body and mind and play a role in such things as digestion, pain, psychological function and even our immune system.
When our ECS is disrupted, it can lead to autoimmune diseases like psoriasis. The cannabinoids found in marijuana, the most common being THC and CBD, bind themselves to our ECS’s neural receptors. This is why the plant has such a dramatic influence on our body. Marijuana can help regulate the body’s immune system and allows patients to manage psoriasis symptoms.
So far, researchers have found four major benefits of medical marijuana to psoriasis patients:
There are many methods of use for marijuana. The plant has been manufactured to meet the needs of several different conditions. Smoking or vaping cannabis continues to be the most popular way to use the herb. However, for psoriasis patients, inhalants are not recommended. This is because smoke exacerbates psoriasis by drying out the skin and aggravating the condition. This could lead to an unwanted flare up.
Thankfully, cannabis oil can be extracted from the plant and is used to create quite a few topical marijuana medications perfect for the use of psoriasis patients. These topicals do not get you high and can be applied directly to affected areas. They include many benefits to patients:
If you’re considering cannabis topicals for your psoriasis, you still need a medical marijuana license. Unfortunately, psoriasis is not included on the list of qualifying conditions in many states. However, chronic pain can be considered.
Our advice should not replace that of a medical professional. So be sure to make an appointment with a marijuana certified doctor or speak to a local budtender today.