CBD for psoriasis: Potential benefits and applications

On the occasion of World Psoriasis Day, we bring you a post about the research done on CBD and its potential benefits for psoriasis. This post is informational and is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. Consult your doctor before using CBD. Cannactiva products are not medicines.

Introduction to CBD and Psoriasis Research

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. Although there is no known cure for psoriasis, some people find relief from the use of CBD.

What is CBD and what is its relationship with psoriasis?

The CBD or cannabidiol is a medicinal compound obtained from the resin of the flowers of the hemp plant(Cannabis sativa). Recent research has found that this cannabinoid may have therapeutic effects on psoriasis through the endocannabinoid system of the skin .

The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of cellular communication distributed throughout the body. It is responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis, i.e. biological balance, by promoting an adequate response of the organism to situations that induce imbalance or disease, as is the case with psoriasis. Therefore, this system is associated with different physiological processes occurring in organs and systems, including the skin.

CBD in topical use has been shown to be useful in treating psoriatic skin lesions. Both scientific research and clinical experience indicate that CBD can be of great help in controlling the symptoms caused by psoriasis, such as skin lesions, anxiety, itching caused by psoriatic plaques, and sleep problems resulting from these discomforts..

Scientific evidence on CBD for psoriasis

Endocannabinoid system and psoriasis

Although the skin is the largest organ of the body, it had never captured the interest of scientists studying the endocannabinoid system. It was not until the 1990s when anandamide, which is a natural endocannabinoid (1), was isolated for the first time in the skin of the rat, that different research groups focused on characterizing the endocannabinoid system and its mechanisms of action in this organ.

We now know that the endocannabinoid system is an extremely important neuroendocrine regulator in maintaining skin homeostasis and, therefore, the use of cannabinoids can benefit skin health and alleviate symptoms of medical conditions such as psoriasis (2).

How does CBD work to improve psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by rapid cell growth, producing red, scaly patches on the skin.

In recent years, it has been demonstrated in the laboratory that CBD can help with some symptoms of this condition, reducing and even disappearing lesions when CBD is applied to psoriasis skin lesions (3). In addition, topical use of CBD has been shown to have few adverse effects (3), and little or no ability to irritate the skin when applied in topical preparations (4).

Infographic on CBD and psoriasis
Potential therapeutic uses of CBD for psoriasis according to current scientific evidence (infographic)

What are the potential benefits of CBD for psoriasis?

Topical CBD has been observed to improve psoriasis through different pathways, either by interacting at the cellular level with keratinocytes, or by interfering with the inflammatory process and angiogenesis. Psoriasis is a disease where the skin becomes scaly in some places; this is because the keratinocytes (or keratin producing cells) start to reproduce in an exacerbated form and due to the excess of keratin, the skin takes on this firm and rough appearance.

Keratinocytes, among many other skin cells, have the capacity to produce endocannabinoids and are therefore sensitive to CBD, as they have cannabinoid receptors in their cell membrane (5). Thus, cannabidiol can bind to keratinocytes and activate pathways that inhibit their proliferation (6, 7), and can even regulate keratin production when these cells are in a hyperproliferative state (8-10).

CBD in psoriasis helps to restore the smooth texture of the skin by stopping the aggravated reproduction of keratinocytes and keratin formation.

On the other hand, psoriasis is also characterized by an inflammatory process, in which there is a release of proinflammatory substances that are responsible for producing and maintaining inflammation. Some of these substances, such as interleukins, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a and nitric oxide (11-13), have been suppressed through the use of CBD. That is, if proinflammatory substances are reduced, inflammation is reduced. Likewise, it has been suggested that CBD can inhibit the formation of new blood vessels in the skin (angiogenesis), which plays an important role in the origin and development (pathogenesis) of psoriasis (14).

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How is CBD used for psoriasis?

Is CBD good for psoriasis?

Now that we have reviewed some of the many mechanisms of action of CBD in psoriasis, we can suggest that cannabidiol has properties that make it suitable to become a great therapy for psoriasis skin lesions in the future. As it is an immune disease with no cure, and whose treatments require personalization, opening up to new alternatives is beneficial for patients.

However, we must remind you that it is not currently an approved therapy, which makes its use contraindicated without professional advice and supervision. Consult your physician.

CBD in topical use for psoriasis

The topical action of CBD has been proven through different research groups, when applied directly on psoriasis lesions. Such ointments have been effective in preparations containing 0.1 to 10% CBD (3).

Can CBD oil be used on the skin for psoriasis?

Skin conditions are usually treated with ointments, which is a type of product or preparation formulated to remain longer on the skin, and therefore the dose of CBD absorbed by the skin is constant throughout the day. CBD oil, being oil-based, can also be absorbed through the skin (25). However, because of its faster absorption, it should be applied frequently during the day to maintain therapeutic concentrations for psoriasis.

What dose of CBD is used for topical psoriasis?

With the available data, it is not possible to indicate a dose of cannabidiol for psoriasis. Effective doses vary from person to person, therefore it is suggested to start with applications of low concentrations of CBD. The response to psoriasis treatments varies from person to person. Therefore, CBD may have a different effect depending on the severity of the lesions. Being an autoimmune disease, it will also depend on the individual’s immune response. Consult your doctor.

Uses of CBD for psoriasis
The amount of CBD depends on the individual. Consult with your professional.

Can CBD oil be used orally for psoriasis?

The oral use of CBD is not regulated in some countries such as Spain, although it is used in others, such as the USA. and the United Kingdom, as well as in research. In that context, CBD oil has been shown to be effective for the treatment of certain types of pain (15, 16). Although CBD oil has not been tested orally or sublingually for psoriasis in particular, its effectiveness for the pain generated by the disease has not been ruled out.

In addition, CBD oil has demonstrated properties for the treatment of anxiety. treatment of anxiety (18) caused by the pruritus (itching) associated with psoriasis; similarly, it could help in the reduction of swelling, as CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory properties (11, 12, 14, 19).

Effects of CBD for psoriasis: Research in progress

Scientific studies suggest that CBD is a potential therapeutic agent for psoriasis, due to its effect on the following pathological pathways:

Topical route:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Improves the results of phototherapy
  • Regulates keratinocyte proliferation
  • Regulates keratin production

Oral route:

  • Reduce anxiety (anxiolytic)

Interactions of CBD with psoriasis drugs

The risks of incurring drug interactions when using CBD with medically prescribed medications prescribed by the physician have not yet been studied in detail.

There may be interactions between CBD and certain anti-inflammatory drugs. The most serious, although to treat conditions other than psoriasis, is drug-induced aseptic meningitis (DIAM). There is one report in which taking CBD and meloxicam (which is a commonly used NSAID or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) orally triggered DIAM (21). Therefore, caution is recommended when CBD is consumed with oral NSAIDs.

Regardless of whether topical or oral treatments are used for the treatment of psoriasis, the lack of clinical studies on possible combinations restricts the recommendation of CBD use with other medications. Therefore, it is recommended to consult your physician before using CBD in any of its preparations.

Among the treatments used to treat psoriasis are topical medications such as corticosteroids, retinoids, salicylic acid and UV phototherapy. While CBD may represent a safer therapy than common preparations for treating psoriasis, it has been shown that CBD can help protect healthy keratinocytes when UV therapy is applied (22-24).

Recommendations on the use of CBD for psoriasis

In conclusion, scientific research indicates that CBD has proven effective for the treatment of psoriatic lesions, when applied directly to the skin in the form of ointments containing 0.1 to 10% CBD. This treatment would be applied topically to reduce the lesions caused by psoriasis and to obtain greater benefits from UV therapy. However, it is an application currently under study, so its possible use is indicated only under the criteria and strict supervision of a specialist physician.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that requires personalized treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a medical specialist before taking CBD. Regarding its use with other drugs, since there are possible interactions, self-consumption without professional supervision should be avoided.

We remind you that this is an informative article that is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. Consult your doctor before using CBD. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Cannactiva products are not medicines.

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Referencias bibliográficas
  1. Felder, C. C., Nielsen, A., Briley, E. M., Palkovits, M., Priller, J., Axelrod, J., Nguyen, D. N., Richardson, J. M., Riggin, R. M., Koppel, G. A., Paul, S. M., & Becker, G. W. (1996). Isolation and measurement of the endogenous cannabinoid receptor agonist, anandamide, in brain and peripheral tissues of human and rat. FEBS letters, 393(2-3), 231-235. https://doi.org/10.1016/0014-5793(96)00891-5.
  2. Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 13, 927-942. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S286411
  3. Puaratanaarunkon, T., Sittisaksomjai, S., Sivapornpan, N., Pongcharoen, P., Chakkavittumrong, P., Ingkaninan, K., Temkitthawon, P., Promgool, T., Waranuch, N., & Asawanonda, P. (2022). Topical cannabidiol-based treatment for psoriasis: A dual-centre randomized placebo-controlled study. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 36(9), e718-e720. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.18215
  4. Maghfour, J., Rietcheck, H., Szeto, M. D., Rundle, C. W., Sivesind, T. E., Dellavalle, R. P., Lio, P., Dunnick, C. A., Fernandez, J., & Yardley, H. (2021). Tolerability profile of topical cannabidiol and palmitoylethanolamide: a compilation of single-centre randomized evaluator-blinded clinical and in vitro studies in normal skin. Clinical and experimental dermatology, 46(8), 1518-1529. https://doi.org/10.1111/ced.14749
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  7. Tóth, B. I., Dobrosi, N., Dajnoki, A., Czifra, G., Oláh, A., Szöllosi, A. G., Juhász, I., Sugawara, K., Paus, R., & Bíró, T. (2011). Endocannabinoids modulate human epidermal keratinocyte proliferation and survival via the sequential engagement of cannabinoid receptor-1 and transient receptor potential vanilloid-1. The Journal of investigative dermatology, 131(5), 1095-1104. https://doi.org/10.1038/jid.2010.421
  8. Sainz-Cort, A., Müller-Sánchez, C., & Espel, E. (2020). Anti-proliferative and cytotoxic effect of cannabidiol on human cancer cell lines in presence of serum. BMC research notes, 13(1), 389. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-020-05229-5
  9. Pucci, M., Rapino, C., Di Francesco, A., Dainese, E., D’Addario, C., & Maccarrone, M. (2013). Epigenetic control of skin differentiation genes by phytocannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 170(3), 581-591. https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.12309
  10. Ramot, Y., Sugawara, K., Zákány, N., Tóth, B. I., Bíró, T., & Paus, R. (2013). A novel control of human keratin expression: cannabinoid receptor 1-mediated signaling down-regulates the expression of keratins K6 and K16 in human keratinocytes in vitro and in situ. PeerJ, 1, e40. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.40
  11. Namazi M. R. (2005). Cannabinoids, loratadine and allopurinol as novel additions to the antipsoriatic ammunition. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 19(3), 319-322. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2004.01184.x
  12. Osafo, N., Yeboah, O. K., & Antwi, A. O. (2021). Endocannabinoid system and its modulation of brain, gut, joint and skin inflammation. Molecular biology reports, 48(4), 3665-3680. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11033-021-06366-1
  13. Sangiovanni, E., Fumagalli, M., Pacchetti, B., Piazza, S., Magnavacca, A., Khalilpour, S., Melzi, G., Martinelli, G., & Dell’Agli, M. (2019). Cannabis sativa L. extract and cannabidiol inhibit in vitro mediators of skin inflammation and wound injury. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 33(8), 2083-2093. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6400
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  15. Franzè, S., Angelo, L., Casiraghi, A., Minghetti, P., & Cilurzo, F. (2022). Design of Liposomal Lidocaine/Cannabidiol Fixed Combinations for Local Neuropathic Pain Treatment. Pharmaceutics, 14(9), 1915. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics14091915
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  18. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 825-836. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
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Frequently Asked Questions about CBD for psoriasis (FAQs)

How does CBD help psoriasis?

CBD is a possible treatment for psoriasis, having the ability to alleviate some of its bothersome symptoms. From skin lesions to anxiety and even insomnia caused by itchy psoriatic plaques, research is revealing more and more information on the use of CBD for psoriasis. If this is your case, we recommend that you consult a specialist before using CBD.

How to apply CBD for psoriasis?

CBD for psoriasis has two possible applications: topical use for plaques, or internal use for anxiety. In topical use, scientific research uses CBD ointments applied directly to the skin.

What concentration of CBD for psoriasis?

Topical CBD ointments have been effective in preparations containing 0.1 to 10% CBD.

Can CBD oil be used for skin with psoriasis?

For those with psoriasis and skin lesions, CBD oil may be your new ally. While CBD ointments are typically used for these types of treatments, by offering the opportunity to maintain therapeutic concentrations throughout the day, considering that CBD oils can also be absorbed by the body quickly and effectively, it could be a great option to explore.

Can CBD oil be taken for psoriasis?

The use of CBD oil in internal use for psoriasis has been studied. Study results have demonstrated the potential of CBD oil drops taken sublingually (under the tongue) for pain relief and for the treatment of anxiety caused by the itching of psoriasis skin lesions. Similarly, CBD oil could help in decreasing swelling, as CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It should be added that in many European countries the legal sale of CBD oil for internal use is not allowed, although the product is the same as can be found in neighboring countries such as Switzerland, where it is allowed to take CBD oil.

Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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