By Angela Johns, PhD
Overview of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition where fast growing skin cells causes red scaly patches to appear on the skin. These patches normally appear on elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. In some cases the patches are itchy and sore. The cause is unknown but it is believed that the makeup of your genes plays a major role.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but a range of treatments such as Vitamin D cream are available to help with the symptoms of sore and itchy skin. In most cases a cream or an ointment is used. However, for some individuals, these general treatments are not enough to relieve symptoms.
Can Cannabis help my psoriasis?
There are over 80 compounds known as ‘cannabinoids’ that can be extracted from the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa). Cannabinoids have been made into topical treatments such as creams or ointments and have been used by people suffering from skin conditions with reported success of alleviating symptoms.
One of the studies reviewed looked at a range of skin conditions where itching and inflamed sore skin are symptoms(1). After patients used the cannabinoid cream, they found that pain from itching and inflammation was reduced. The medicated cream is absorbed through your skin and is known as a topical application which means that the cream is absorbed by your skin locally and does not affect your whole body. Topical cannabis creams do not produce a ‘high’ and so you will not get side effects associated with this ‘high” feeling.
Additionally, a company based in Israel announced in late 2017 that they have developed a cannabinoid cream that has been approved for use in a clinical trial specifically for sufferers of psoriasis. Initially, the cream will be tried on healthy volunteers to determine the safety of the formulation. As soon as approval is attained, the cream will then be tried on individuals with psoriasis. This is encouraging news.
The use of medical cannabis in Australia is now legal and in over half of the US states. This helps tremendously with future research as more researchers can access the cannabis plants and its active ingredients to find out more about how it works.
If your current treatments are not working then speak to your doctor about asking when topical cannabinoid treatments will become available in Australia and how to access them. The use of medicinal cannabis in Australia is only for individuals with painful and chronic (long term) conditions and it should be noted that strict rules and regulations surrounding the use of medicinal cannabis remain in place, meaning not just anyone can access it.
1. Mounessa JS, Siegel JA, Dunnick CA, Dellavalle RP. The role of cannabinoids in dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017;77(1):188-90.