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Psoriasis, known as a severe skin disease, is an unpleasant problem, but luckily its symptoms can be controlled with many different means. In this article, we will get to know psoriasis as a disease and whether CBD oil could have any effect on the symptoms of psoriasis.
What is psoriasis?
Immune-mediated disease, psoriasis or psori, is an inflammatory chronic condition that manifests itself as a rash either locally or over the entire body. Psoriasis appears only on the skin or also on the nails and joints. Psoriasis usually starts in young or middle-aged people, but it can be found in people of all ages. (1)
Psoriasis is partly caused by hereditary factors. In young people, it often starts from an infection, but in addition to genes, it is also predisposed to e.g. heavy alcohol consumption, smoking and unhealthy lifestyles. The exact cause behind the disease is unknown. (1)
Psoriasis is mostly mild, but sometimes it causes symptoms that make life very difficult, and in the worst case may even cause people to avoid social situations. (1)
Skin or plaque psoriasis
Skin symptoms are the most common manifestation of psoriasis. The psoriatic rash is red-based, well-defined, scaly and itches intensely. They appear in larger areas most sensitively on the elbows, temples and scalp, but it can also appear as small, round spots all over the body. Psoriatic plaques may crack and ooze a clear or bloody discharge. (1)
Pustular psoriasis is a rare form of the disease that causes purulent, blister-like rashes.
Joint and nail psoriasis
Psoriasis symptoms start either at the same time or years after the skin symptoms. The joints are stiff and painful and swollen. Psoriasis of the joints is usually diagnosed by a rheumatologist, and unfortunately it cannot be completely cured because it is a disease that permanently damages the joints. It is possible to alleviate the symptoms and slow down their progression. (1) CBD oil may help with joint challenges and you can read about it more here .
Nail psoriasis always occurs together with joint symptoms, causing clear changes in the appearance of the nail. The nail starts to bulge, thicken and even detach from the nail bed. (1)
Psoriasis is a disease that may be impossible to cure completely, but there are several ways to alleviate its symptoms.
Mild skin symptoms may be eased by psoriasis creams, scalp care shampoos and lifestyle changes. De-stressing and calming the nervous system, fine-tuning your diet and at least drastically reducing the use of intoxicants may bring significant relief. (1,2) Sometimes it is recommended that baking soda be applied to the skin, especially on areas with rashes, but there are no guarantees that it will be treatable.
For severe skin symptoms, you should always consult a dermatologist to ensure the best treatment. In the most severe cases, the treatment is both cream and internally used drugs, often used to control inflammation. (1,2)
There is always a reason behind all diseases. A triggering factor for psoriasis may not be found, but environmental factors at least worsen the symptoms (1,2). Unhealthy lifestyles such as heavy alcohol use, smoking, a diet that is too fatty and poor in nutrients and a stressful lifestyle increase symptoms, according to both research and experience, and therefore it is important to pay attention to them in the treatment of psoriasis. Especially with diet, it can be challenging to find out what causes symptoms and what doesn’t, but generally, according to experience, avoiding gluten, spicy foods, fast food and alcohol may reduce them significantly. (2)
Often psoriasis symptoms are seasonal and their quality and severity can vary. According to experience, summer, i.e. probably the sun, clearly reduces the symptoms and may even heal the skin completely. Some people with psoriasis spend a few weeks in the winter in the heat of the south, so that the sun breaks the long cold period, during which the skin is covered under clothes. (1)
Foods to avoid
There are no actual foods to avoid associated with this disease, but some foods may worsen the symptoms. Strong spices, coffee, alcohol, gluten and very fatty foods are the most commonly mentioned food substances that may worsen symptoms in conversations. How foods affect people is very individual. Others are more sensitive.
Psoriasis or atopic dermatitis?
Psoriasis and atopic dermatitis both cause severe symptoms on the skin, but they are different diseases. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated inflammatory disease, while atopy is caused by allergies. Red spots are typical for psoriasis, while in atopy the skin is red, scaly and itchy all over. Generally, atopy is a disease of children, and psoriasis occurs among parents, young people and people over middle age.
Associated diseases of psoriasis
Psoriasis is also associated with other diseases, but whether they are caused by psoriasis or the other way around is not entirely certain. Diseases related to psoriasis are very much lifestyle diseases, from which you might think that the reasons behind the symptoms of psoriasis are largely the same as those associated with it, even if the disease itself breaks out for some other reason. Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and anxiety/depression are typical, as are, of course, joint challenges. Both associated diseases and the symptoms of psoriasis are mainly caused by unhealthy lifestyles such as heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, too fatty and limited diet, stress and a lifestyle with too little exercise. (1,2)
The endocannabinoid system and psoriasis
All functions of the body are monitored by the endocannabinoid system. It is found in all people and almost all animals and its task is to take care of the body’s balance. The endocannabinoid system consists of endogenous or endocannabinoids, their corresponding receptors CB1 and CB2, and their disintegrating enzymes. Endocannabinoids are not stored, but are produced locally as needed.
The endocannabinoid system is also strongly involved in skin-related activities. Its dysregulation has been found to be involved in various skin challenges, such as psoriasis and atopy (3).
In connection with psoriasis, increased activity of both cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 has been observed on the skin and especially in the area of psoriatic plaques. The abundant presence of receptors most likely negates the endocannabinoid system’s attempt to bring the skin back into balance. (4)
Psoriasis and CBD
Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids naturally occurring in hemp, of which more than 100 different types have been identified. Cannabinoids have been studied extensively for decades and have been found to have numerous properties that may improve well-being.
The skin is the largest human organ and one of its main tasks is to protect the body from external harm. Skin diseases are basically the result of skin cell stress and inflammation, for which CBD may be a great help (5). Cannabinoids are fascinating because when they get into the body, they can affect where care is most needed. When applied to the skin, CBD is well absorbed and quickly reaches both the bloodstream and the treated area.
Cannabidiol or CBD is a widely studied cannabinoid. It has been found to have a versatile area of influence, which in addition to psoriasis includes e.g. also stress, depression and anxiety. Properties related to psoriasis that ease its symptoms with CBD oil could be its immunomodulating, antibacterial and antioxidant effects, as well as anti-inflammatory, anti-itch and anti-cell death effects. (4,5,6)
You can read more about the effect of cannabidiol (CBD) on stress here and more about the effect on depression here. You can read about the effect of CBD on the skin and rashes more here and about CBD cosmetics here. Inflammation also has its own article and that can be found here .
Psoriasis, which occurs deeper than the surface of the skin, is a chronic, complex disease whose effects extend to the quality of life, mood and health. It affects the daily life of millions of people and it can be challenging to live with because it is perhaps impossible to cure. In addition to a healthy lifestyle, its symptoms can also be alleviated by cannabinoids such as CBD and CBG, and future research on the topic will increase the understanding of how cannabinoids and the utilization of the endocannabinoid system could help in the treatment of psoriasis.
- Psoriasis Association. Information about psoriasis. https://psori.fi/tietoa-psoriasiksesta/. Referenced 10/17/2023.
- Tarnanen K., Rantanen T., Rantalaiho V., Sipilä R. and Psoriasis Association. 2022. Duodecim. Psoriasis (skin and joint psoriasis) control with regular treatment. https://www.kaypahoito.fi/khp00073 . Referenced 10/17/2023.
- Baswan S., Klosner A., Glynn K., Rajgopal A., Makil K., Yim S., and Stern N.. 2020. Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7736837/ . Referred on 10/17/2023 .
- Biro T., Toth B., Hasko G. and Pache P.. 2009. The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757311/. Referenced 10/17/2023.
- Makhakhe L.. 2022. Topical cannabidiol (CBD) in skin pathology – A comprehensive review and prospects for new therapeutic opportunities. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9210160/. Referenced 10/17/2023.
- Wronski A., Jarocka-Karpowicz I., Stasiewicz A. and Skrzydlewska E.. 2023. Phytocannabinoids in the Pharmacotherapy of Psoriasis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9920113/. Referenced 10/17/2023.
- Perez E., Fernandez J., Fitzgerald C., Rouzard K., Tamura M., and Savile C.. 2022. In Vitro and Clinical Evaluation of Cannabigerol (CBG) Produced via Yeast Biosynthesis: A Cannabinoid with a Broad Range of Anti -Inflammatory and Skin Health-Boosting Properties. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8778347/. Referenced 10/17/2023.