Can CBD Oil Reduce Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Some doctors and alternative health practitioners have begun to include this hemp product in their treatment arsenal.
There’s been an explosion of interest in CBD (cannabidiol) oil as a treatment for pain, anxiety, depression, and a host of other ailments. Now some doctors and alternative health practitioners are using CBD, a natural chemical found in the cannabis plant (also known as industrial hemp), to help patients with psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis affects about 30 percent of people with psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes cells to build up on the surface of the skin, resulting in thick red patches with silver scaling. Psoriatic arthritis develops when the immune system begins to attack healthy cells and tissue, causing swelling, pain, fatigue, and inflammation in joints.
James W. Baumgartner, PhD, head of research and development and a manufacturing partner for the CBD business BIOS Labs, believes that CBD oil and medical marijuana extracts may be new alternative treatments for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
According to Baumgarnter, there is scientific evidence that cannabinoids, which include CBD and other active compounds in the cannabis plant, help regulate the immune system through the body’s endocannabinoid system. Researchers are still trying to understand the underlying mechanisms, he says.
A review of the scientific literature on this subject, published in a 2016 issue of the journal Current Clinical Pharmacology, makes the same point. The investigators conclude that there’s reason to believe cannabinoids have the potential to help treat psoriasis.
In a small study published in the April 2019 edition of the Italian medical journal La Clinica Terapeutica, researchers concluded that for patients with some skin disorders, especially those related to inflammation, topical CDB is a safe, effective, noninvasive way to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
How Do You Use CBD?
Hervé Damas, MD, founder of the medical marijuana business Grassroots Wellness in Miami, uses an array of CBD products for patients with inflammatory skin disorders. Depending on the severity of the disease, he says, he’ll either use topical CBD or a combination of a cream and systemic treatments (formulations that are absorbed into the bloodstream, such as drops that go under the tongue). “For issues such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema, I’ve found CBD very effective at decreasing flare-ups, irritation, and discomfort in patients,” he says.
Aly Cohen, MD, a rheumatologist and integrative medicine practitioner in Monroe Township, New Jersey, and the founder and medical director of the website The Smart Human, says it’s important for patients to take CBD oil under the guidance of a practitioner who has expertise in this area and knows all the benefits and potential risks. “You need to watch for dangerous interactions with antidepressants, chemotherapy drugs, anticoagulants, and anti-seizure medications,” she says.
How Much CBD Oil Should You Use?
Dr. Damas finds that dosing with CBD is more art than science at this point. “For patients with inflammatory skin disorders I typically recommend 20 to 30 milligrams for daily maintenance, but this dosage varies based on a person’s body weight, health, and other medications they may be taking,” he says. “Applying topical applications to an affected area two or three times daily usually suffices.”
What Kind of CBD Oil Should You Buy?
Damas suggests buying full-spectrum oil (containing all cannabinoids and other compounds naturally occurring in the cannabis plant), as some research has shown this form of CBD to be more effective than isolates (just CBD).
How Do You Know if Your CBD Is Pure?
Shital Mars, CEO of PharmCo RX, an independent pharmacy in Miami, explains that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD products (with the exception of a single CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy).
“The best way to choose a CBD product is to do your research, work with a licensed physician or trusted pharmacist, and get a verified certificate of third-party analysis from the manufacturer,” says Mars. “That is the only way to know you are getting a quality product.”
Mars explains that manufacturers that offer transparency merit the most trust, so ask how much CBD you are actually getting in each dose. Understand that most labels show CBD content by volume, not by dose.
Some research suggests that for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, CBD (hemp) oil may reduce flair-ups and discomfort. Products include CBD creams and CBD drops that go under the tongue.
5 Popular CBD Products for Psoriasis
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Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to rapidly multiply, resulting in scale-like patches on the skin’s surface. These patches can be itchy, red, and inflamed. Additionally, around 10 to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, a painful chronic condition.
There’s no known cure for psoriasis, and it can be hard to manage. But some treatments can help ease symptoms. Many people with psoriasis are turning to cannabis for help. Cannabis, including cannabinoids like CBD, is often used to manage painful conditions and inflammation.
Here’s what you need to know about using cannabis to treat psoriasis symptoms.
Can cannabis be used to manage psoriasis? The research is limited.
Cannabis contains dozens of chemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids work by affecting the endocannabinoid system that helps to keep your body healthy. Your endocannabinoid system affects many different parts of your body, including your digestive system, brain, and skin .
Well-known cannabinoids include CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is non-impairing, meaning it won’t get you high. THC, on the other hand, can produce a high — plus, it can show up on drug tests.
By law, CBD products are required to contain less than 0.3 percent THC. But most CBD products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So, keep in mind that some may still have enough THC to be detectable on a drug test.
Research on cannabinoids for psoriasis symptoms
- Affect skin cell growth. A 2007 study suggested that cannabinoids could treat psoriasis by stopping the buildup of skin cells. A 2017 study found that a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-133, might be effective at treating psoriasis, although animal and human trials are still needed. More recently, a review published in 2019 concluded that cannabinoids could be able to treat psoriasis, but that more research is needed before we know for sure.
- Act as an anti-inflammatory. Cannabinoids like CBD are also anti-inflammatories, and as recent research points out, cannabinoids are connected to inflammatory skin conditions and might be able to treat them.
- Manage pain. Plenty of research suggests that CBD can effectively manage pain. Given that psoriatic arthritis is a painful condition, many people with psoriasis use CBD. Other cannabinoids, such as THC, have also been linked to soothing pain. Pain management is a common reason why people seek medical cannabis.
More research is needed before the relationship between cannabis and CBD and psoriasis is fully understood. But many people with psoriasis try cannabis and CBD to soothe their condition with varying levels of success.
When researching and buying CBD products online, you may see the following terms:
- CBD isolate: CBD with no other cannabinoids and no THC
- Broad-spectrum CBD: contains most cannabinoids, but it generally doesn’t include THC
- Full-spectrum CBD: contains all the plant’s cannabinoids, including THC
CBD oil ranges from around $0.04 per milligram (mg) up to $0.20 per mg of CBD, depending on the factors outlined below.
CBD-infused topical treatments tend to be more expensive — think the price of a topical treatment for psoriasis plus the price of CBD oil.
When it comes to buying CBD for psoriasis, the price will depend on a range of factors, including:
- Potency: The more CBD in the product, the more expensive it will be. The amount of CBD will be shown in milligrams, or mg, on the product packaging.
- Form: Whether you buy it in the form of a vaporizer, oil, or edible will affect the price.
- Cannabinoids present: CBD isolate is cheaper, while full-spectrum CBD is more expensive. If the product is high in other cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG), it can be pricier.
- Other ingredients: A CBD-infused brownie made with expensive ingredients, for example, will also be more expensive.
- Brand: Some brands are cheaper than others, but this doesn’t necessarily make them worse.
- Location: The price of CBD varies from state to state and country to country.
All products below are third-party tested to verify their cannabinoid content and ensure they don’t contain any heavy metals or pesticides.
We indicate the price for each CBD product with dollar signs, which are based on the price for the total amount of the product. The products below range in size from 30 to 118 milliliters (mL), or 1 to 4 ounces (oz.).
- $ = under $50
- $$ = $50–$90
- $$$ = over $100
Whether you’re looking for salves, oils, or tinctures, we go over CBD products popular with people managing psoriasis and what makes CBD promising for some symptoms.