How to use CBD oil for psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions
An alternative to steroids.
Woman with allergic reaction looking herself in the mirror (Photo by AzmanL)
New trials are underway at the University of Colorado investigating CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema. CBD Oil is already gaining popularity among patients with these skin conditions, especially among those who find steroids ineffective. Let’s dive into the research to see what we know so far.
What is Eczema?
Eczema can refer to many skin conditions, all of which are characterized by dry and itchy skin. About 10 percent of Americans have some form of eczema, which is over 30 million people. Itchy, inflamed, and irritated skin accompanied by a red rash is common on the face, behind the knees, inside the elbows, and on the hands and feet, especially in children. Scratching makes skin worse, it becomes raw, sensitive, and swollen.
Doctors believe eczema is caused by an overreaction of immune cells in the skin. Little things like soap, pollen, and pet dander can trigger inflammation, an “unnecessary” immune response. There is no cure for eczema. Many use steroids to control symptoms but they have side effects and don’t work for everyone.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is also a skin condition. It’s a chronic autoimmune disease which causes inflammation and skin cells to be produced too quickly. Basically, new skin cells reach the surface of the skin before they’re ready because they’re produced so rapidly. This buildup of “immature” skin cells forms raised patches that appear silver and scaly. It’s an itchy and painful condition that also causes inflammation, redness, swelling, and discomfort.
Psoriasis also puts people at higher risk for developing psoriatic arthritis and mental health issues. In fact, up to 30 percent of those with psoriasis will also get psoriatic arthritis. What’s more, pain, fatigue, and sleeplessness are common related symptoms, which contribute to mental health issues. A 2010 study found that people with psoriasis are 39 percent more likely to be depressed and 31 percent more likely to have anxiety than people without the skin condition.
How can CBD Oil for Psoriasis and Eczema Help?
CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema can help because of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a large network of neurons that helps the body regulate many functions, including:
- Immune system function
The ECS consists of our bodies natural versions of cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids and receptors. We have receptors in nearly every cell in the body, including all over the skin and in immune cells. That’s where CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema comes in. Cannabis can interact with the endocannabinoid receptors on the skin to help reduce inflammation, pain, and itching in people with eczema and psoriasis—or anyone with dry, itchy, or sensitive skin, for that matter. According to this 2017 review from the University of Colorado, CBD, CBG, and CBN all have potential uses for psoriasis. This means CBD oil for psoriasis could be a promising treatment.
Some researchers, like from this 2009 study, even believe these skin conditions are caused by an imbalance in an individual’s ECS, coined “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency” by Dr. Ethan Russo. Other medical issues that might be caused by a cannabinoid deficiency include fibromyalgia, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome. However, more research is desperately needed.
Cannabis and the Immune System
One reason CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema may work is because cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, are immunosuppressant. This means they can reduce an immune response like inflammation. Especially in those with eczema, the immune cells in the skin are overactive and trigger an inflammatory response as a result.
This is how CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema can help. Because of CBD’s known anti-inflammatory properties, when it’s applied directly to irritated skin or consumed orally, it’s telling those immune cells to slow down and take it easy on the inflammation. Especially when applied topically, CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema can help skin “calm down” and give it time to heal. Cannabis’ suppressant effect on the immune system and inflammation is also how it helps conditions like Crohn’s disease, Lupus, arthritis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
How to Use CBD Oil for Psoriasis and Eczema
There are a surprising amount of choices for treating skin conditions with cannabis. There are cannabis topicals with THC or CBD, there’s hemp seed oil, you can take a daily dose of CBD oil for psoriasis or eczema…how do you know what’s right for you? We’ve broken it down to make it easy.
Cannabis Lotion with THC
Legal states have the most options when it comes to cannabis topicals like lotions and salves. In places like Colorado and California, you can buy topicals with THC as well as CBD, which is great for skin conditions. That’s because THC is medicinal too. Check out brands like Papa & Barkley or Apothecanna for full spectrum cannabis topicals.
Cannabis Lotion with CBD
Unfortunately, cannabis isn’t legal everywhere, but in the U.S. anyone can order CBD-only products thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill. CBD products derived from hemp plants with 0.3% THC are legal to ship to all 50 states and are great for skin conditions. When considering a topical CBD oil for psoriasis or eczema, there are a couple quick guidelines to follow:
- Look for CBD topicals free of alcohols and other impurities
- Make sure it was tested by a third party lab
- Make sure you’re buying CBD from a safe and reliable source by following this checklist
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seeds are surprisingly nutritious and have been used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine for centuries. That’s because hemp seeds contain tons of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are essential for cell production and healthy skin. While they don’t have much in the way of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, they make up for it in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids.
Some cannabis and CBD lotions will also contain hemp seed oil, so check the label. You can also buy hemp seed oil separately online and get it shipped anywhere in the U.S. for the same reason CBD is legal (hint: because it’s derived from hemp). Plus, most hemp soaps are made with hemp seed oil, and people with sensitive skin and more serious skin conditions swear by them.
Taking CBD Oil for Psoriasis or Eczema Orally
The clinical trial at the University of Colorado looking at CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema is actually studying people taking a daily CBD capsule. Consuming CBD oil for psoriasis or eczema—either a drop under the tongue, in your morning coffee, or as a capsule—may help reduce skin condition outbreaks and symptoms, but more research is badly needed. Consuming CBD oil for psoriasis or eczema daily has a ton of medical benefits with almost no side effects, though, so it can’t hurt to try it.
By the way, if you’re in a bind, you can also apply CBD oil meant for oral consumption directly onto the skin for fast relief, as long as there’s no alcohol in it.
CBD oil for psoriasis can also help with symptoms related to the disorder. Remember, people with psoriasis are more likely to suffer from arthritis, insomnia, depression, and anxiety? Well, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that cannabis, including CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema, helps people with all of those issues. A word to the wise, some people report smoking cannabis can make their skin more irritated so if you want to inhale the herb for medical relief (or fun, no judgement), try vaping your favorite strain or a strain high in CBD.
CBD oil for psoriasis and eczema has tons of potential so it’s exciting to see more research on the issue. Do you use CBD oil for psoriasis or eczema, tell us about it in a comment.