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Can CBD Help My Psoriasis?

Managing Psoriasis

January 18, 2024

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Photography by Vanessa Nunes/Getty Images

Photography by Vanessa Nunes/Getty Images

by Stefanie Remson

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Medically Reviewed by:

Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC

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•••••

by Stefanie Remson

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC

•••••

•••••

CBD might be able to help your condition in many ways. Potential uses include lowering inflammation, pain management, and even moisturizing skin.

Cannabidiol — aka CBD — is a compound derived from the cannabis plant. And everyone seems to be talking about CBD’s benefits.

While research into CBD’s benefits for psoriasis (PsO) is still in the early stages, some research and anecdotal evidence supports its use.

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What is the research saying about CBD? 

Interest in CBD has skyrocketed in recent years. According to a 2023 Healthline survey, 25% of U.S. adults are either currently using CBD products or are interested in trying them.

And according to the February 2023 edition of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, one-third of U.S. adults reported using CBD products in 2020.

But many of us are using it for our health. In a 2018 study, 62% of CBD users reported using it for a medical condition.

The data for how many people with PsO use CBD is not yet available. But there’s convincing evidence supporting its general use. And when it comes to living with a chronic illness, it can be helpful to consider anecdotal evidence, too.

Plants and plant derivatives, such as CBD from the cannabis plant, have been studied and used to treat skin diseases like PsO for many years.

Natural plant alternatives to traditional medications are popular because they can have fewer side effects and better tolerance, are relatively less expensive, and are more accepted due to a long history of use.

Currently, Epidolex is the only CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Epidolex is used to treat seizure disorders. However, research is ongoing to help determine other safe and effective uses.

Here’s what some people in the PsO community use CBD for and their experiences with it.

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Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects

CBD has been studied for its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

CBD also has immunosuppressive properties that might be valuable for treating PsO since this condition is the result of an overactive immune system.

Since starting my daily CBD regimen, my systemic inflammation is improved. I feel better overall, and I don’t have chronic inflammation like I used to.

— Teresa, diagnosed with PsO in 1986

My aesthetician uses topical CBD products to help manage the redness and inflammation in my skin. It helps so much!

— Ashley, diagnosed with undifferentiated connective tissue disorder in 2022

I have not found a CBD product that works to manage my inflammation yet, unfortunately.

— Kristina, diagnosed with PsO and PsA in 2014

Pain-relieving effects

The endocannabinoid system is a complex, cell-signaling system in the body that’s involved in regulating pain sensations. Our bodies naturally produce neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors and work to maintain homeostasis (keeping everything moving smoothly).

This system is named after cannabinoids, the compounds in the cannabis plant, because the system was initially discovered while researching the effects of cannabis on the body.

How external CBD interacts with this system is not well understood yet, but there’s some research that suggests CBD can help with managing pain.

Although there are currently no CBD products approved for the management of chronic pain or the treatment of acute pain, our community shares their experiences using it for pain related to PsO plaques and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

I have tried 5 different biologic medications for my PsO, but none of them really managed my pain. CBD helps to keep my pain level manageable.

— Dedra, diagnosed with PsO and PsA in 2018

I use an oral (CBD) edible every day which helps to calm my pain. I have tried many traditional treatments, but none have improved my pain control as well as CBD.

— Teresa, diagnosed with PsO in 1986

I have bad neuropathic pain, and my CBD regimen helps keep it manageable.

— Cristina, diagnosed with PsO and PsA in 2017

I have not found a CBD product that works to control the pain from my PsO plaques, yet.

— Kristen, diagnosed with PsO and PsA in 2016

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Immune system regulation

The data supporting CBD’s immune suppressive functions are well-studied. CBD works to directly suppress the production of various immune cells, cause programmed cell death, and promote regulatory cells.

This is beneficial when managing PsO, as PsO is a direct result of an overactive and inappropriate immune response.

I get sick less often and manage my PsO better since starting my daily CBD regimen.

— Liz, diagnosed with PsO and PsA in 1990

I use CBD in addition to traditional treatments. I feel they regulate my immune system the best when I use them together.

— Kendra, diagnosed with PsO and PsA in 2018

Moisturizing effects

To treat inflammatory conditions of the skin, like PsO, traditional treatments often involve anti-inflammatory agents — the most common being topical corticosteroids.

If you have PsO, you might already know that topical steroids have a lot of potential side effects, especially with long-term use in sensitive areas such as the scalp, around the eyes, and on the underarms and groin.

Topical CBD products available usually have CBD mixed with a carrier agent, such as shea butter or aloe vera. CBD is thought to help retain moisture by decreasing inflammation, but these carrier products and additional moisturizers often work together to help improve the skin’s moisture levels, too.

I use CBD products when my skin is very red and inflamed and it’s effective.

— Ashlen, diagnosed with PsO in 1996

I tried several topical CBD creams, which were quite expensive relative to lotions, and didn’t notice any improvement in my skin. I was really bummed.

— Stephanie, diagnosed with PsO in 2021

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Stress and anxiety reduction

Stress can be a trigger for PsO flares in some people.

CBD can regulate the stress response, and can also help manage anxiety disorders, which can contribute to stress on the body.

I tried a few different edible CBD products, but unfortunately they did not help to reduce my anxiety.

— Catherine, diagnosed with PsO in 1990

I use CBD gummies every night to help turn my brain off and stop worrying about everything. They have truly changed my life.

— Sara, diagnosed with PsO in 2017

Sleep improvement

CBD might be influential on the circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycles. Although there’s currently not a lot of published research supporting this specifically, there are a lot of anecdotal reports of its effectiveness in the PsO community.

I can get a good night’s sleep since starting a CBD regimen. I use a product available at a local, high-end beauty store that had CBD with melatonin in it. This has dramatically improved my quality of life and overall health. My PsO is better managed because I’m getting better sleep, too.

— Dedra, diagnosed with PsO and PsA in 2018

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How much CBD should I take and in what form?

Since CBD products are not generally approved or regulated by the FDA, the dosing varies widely. A typical dosage ranges between 300 milligrams (mg) and 1,500 mg.

CBD comes in many different forms:

  • oral sprays that go under the tongue
  • oils and tinctures that are dispensed as drops
  • vapes and vape liquids that are inhaled
  • a myriad of edible items, including:
    • gummies
    • chocolates
    • cookies
    • drinks
  • pills, including tablets and capsules
  • topical solutions, including:
    • lotions
    • creams
    • patches
    • gels
    • ointments

Where can I buy CBD products?

Since CBD products are not generally approved or regulated by the FDA, finding products that are pure CBD can be difficult.

Dispensaries are one common avenue, but it’s important to remember that dispensary employees are not medical professionals.

CBD products can be purchased at:

  • cannabis dispensaries
  • online storefronts dedicated to CBD sales
  • a select few retail stores
  • some pet supply stores
  • a select few beauty supply stores

Many celebrities have even developed CBD products.

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How do I deal with the stigma around using CBD for health problems?

Although many CBD products do not have any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive agent of cannabis, there still seems to be some stigma surrounding the use of CBD for medical reasons.

Because CBD isn’t approved or regulated by the FDA, and 24 states have regulated cannabis for recreational use, it’s difficult to be certain that the products you’re buying are pure CBD and do not contain THC.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with your local laws and your employer’s drug testing policy. Look for CBD products that are isolate or broad-spectrum.

The bottom line

The World Health Organization has deemed CBD as safe and without abuse potential. Yet finding pure CBD products is still difficult due to the lack of FDA regulation.

More research is needed to understand the effectiveness and role of CBD in the treatment of PsO. As you can see from our community’s experiences, results vary. Some people may benefit from CBD, while others won’t get the same results.

It’s important to have a conversation with your healthcare professional before starting any CBD therapy for your PsO.

Medically reviewed on January 18, 2024

15 Sources


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About the author

Stefanie Remson

Ms. Stefanie Remson MSN, APRN, FNP-BC is the CEO and founder of RheumatoidArthritisCoach.com. She is a family nurse practitioner and is a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient herself. She has spent her entire life serving the community as a healthcare professional and has refused to let RA slow her down. She has worked with The Arthritis Foundation, The Lupus Foundation of America, Healthline, Grace and Able, Arthritis Life, Musculo, Aila, and HopeX. You can learn more at her website and on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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