An Alternative Treatment: Cannabis for Skin Conditions

woman itching her arm because of a skin condition

Cannabis is known worldwide as a resource that can provide folks with a quite satisfactory and happy feeling, and the health benefits of cannabis are also becoming well known as the plant becomes legal.

Cannabis is excellent for pain relief and is also an effective treatment for symptoms related to Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, autism, cachexia, depression, epilepsy, glaucoma, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, nausea, PTSD, opioid addiction, and more.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first cannabis-based drug Epidiolex for use in patients with epilepsy, and now that the government has finally approved a cannabis drug, people are wondering what else cannabis can treat. The wonder drug works so well for relaxation, pain, and many other illnesses, but is cannabis for skin conditions also effective? The answer is yes.

People have been using cannabis for thousands of years to treat skin conditions along with many other ailments. The ancient Chinese used the plant to treat rashes, hair loss, ulcers, and wounds, to help the body heal. Ancient Egyptians also used cannabis for wounds and to treat eye conditions.

Cannabis was also used in tinctures the United States during the early twentieth century prior to prohibition. Cannabis tinctures were sold legally in pharmacies to treat calluses, irritable bladders, menstrual cramps, and opium addiction. It was also used for eczema, psoriasis, and scleroderma.

Cannabis for Eczema

man itching the eczema on his hand

Atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema, is a skin condition leaves skin itchy, inflamed, and red. Eczema can also be a chronic condition that may leave brown, gray, or red scaly patches anywhere on a person's body but is typically found on a person's ankles, chest, elbows, eyelids, feet, hands, neck, and wrists. Not only can the condition leave skin feeling itchy, raw and inflamed, it also has no cure.

The standard treatments currently available to relieve symptoms associated with eczema are steroids, pharmaceutical drugs, and light therapy. However, cannabis has also been found to be effective in providing relief for eczema symptoms.

According to the late Dr. Henry Granger Piffard, the founding editor of JAMA Dermatology, cannabis for skin conditions like eczema is quite effective because of its anti-itching qualities. "A pill of cannabis indica at bedtime has at my hands sometimes afforded relief to the intolerable itching of eczema," said Piffard. Cannabis also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Cannabis works on inflammation by targeting the endocannabinoid system and activating CB1 receptors. Healthy skin protects itself from allergens and irritants within the environment and helps the body retain moisture. Eczema reverses this protection and makes skin vulnerable to factors in the environment.

A clinical trial found that endocannabinoid cream provided relief from itching and insomnia for 60 percent of patients. More than 33 percent were able to stop steroid treatment while 38 percent no longer needed to take oral antihistamines.

Cannabinoids can slow how fast skin cells grow and decrease accumulation on the surface of the skin. Studies found delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabinol, and cannabigerol, all cannabinoids, decreased the speed at which keratinocyte cells grew on the skin's outer layer. Scientists believe that cannabinoids may also be effective in treating psoriasis.

Cannabis for Psoriasis

itching hand

Psoriasis is another skin condition in which the skin can become itchy, cracked, and sometimes bleed. People with psoriasis may also suffer from painful swelling and inflammation which can also lead to psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis causes joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness affecting any body part, often including the back, spine, feet, and hands. There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis and the condition can cause severe joint damage and become disabling.

There is also no cure for psoriasis, although there are treatments available to provide relief from symptoms. Researchers have found that cannabinoids naturally affect appetite (no surprise there), the immune system, and inflammation. Studies show that cannabinoids can treat psoriasis by decreasing the speed at which cells reproduce. Cannabinoids can also treat psoriatic arthritis because cannabis controls pain and decreases inflammation.

Cannabis for Scleroderma

white cannabis lotion


Systemic scleroderma (otherwise known as sclerosis) is an autoimmune disease that leads to the dysfunction of fibroblasts, increases protein deposits, and produces excess inflammation. In layman's terms, people with scleroderma suffer from a thickening and scarring of skin tissue that can be very painful. It can also spread to internal organs and has no cure. The disease is chronic and as the condition progresses, it can be life-threatening depending on which internal organs are affected.

Scientists have shown that by manipulating CB1 and CB2 receptors, cannabis can modulate the fibrotic response. Blocking CB1 receptors can prevent fibroblast activation and activating CB2 receptors prevents cutaneous fibrosis. In other words, cannabis can slow-down the thickening and scarring process of the disease as well as decrease the production of inflammatory cells. Cannabis also benefits people with scleroderma because of its excellent anti-inflammation qualities and ability to effectively manage pain.

Natural Alternative to Steroids

container of cannabis lotion

Using cannabis for skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and scleroderma can go a long way in providing relief, especially for people who do not like the idea of using steroids.

The University of Colorado found that CBD is effective treating skin conditions and is a natural alternative to medicating with steroids. Dr. Robert Dellavalle is a researcher at the University of Colorado and believes that many people dislike the idea of using steroids.

"There's a large segment of the population that doesn't like using steroids, even if they are topical steroids on their skin. CBD could be an alternative, natural product for them to try."

Dellavalle added that people who have tried topical steroids that suppress the immune system for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis but have not had success should try cannabis. Dellavalle says that cannabis is a promising treatment that may provide them with the relief they have not found elsewhere.

Using Cannabis for Skin Conditions

cannabis joints and in a jar

Cannabis can be used for skin conditions in several ways. The cosmetic and health industries have capitalized on the growing cannabis industry and are making several CBD products marketed for health and wellness.

One way to use cannabis for skin conditions is by using a topical such as CBD lotion. CBD lotion is infused with cannabis oil and provides all of the benefits of cannabidiol without getting you high. CBD creams and lotions come in varying strengths and are effective when applied directly to the targeted area. Lotions and creams that contain both THC and CBD are the most effective in controlling pain.

Another way to use cannabis for skin conditions is orally with cannabis oil. Cannabis oil can be consumed orally in many ways including capsules, edibles, and tinctures.

Tinctures can be taken alone or be consumed via your favorite beverage, and you can even put a few drops in your food if you prefer. Some folks even make cannabis butter with cannabis oil and use it to prepare meals.

If you aren't into cooking, no worries because ready-to-eat edibles are available to purchase in most cannabis dispensaries. You may have heard of the infamous pot brownie, but other examples of cannabis-infused edibles include beverages, candy, chocolate-covered fruits, cookies, gummy bears, lozenges, and more.

Basically, you can find cannabis infused into almost any food or beverage these days. If you are a first-timer, please tread carefully when consuming edibles because they are much stronger than smoking cannabis. Nobody wants to go to the emergency room for weed, especially when it can be avoided. You can thank me later:)

If you’re suffering from a skin condition and have not found the desired relief from typical pharmaceuticals, it might be time to try cannabis for your skin condition.