Research Studies: CBD’s Effects On Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a painful and itchy skin condition which is characterized by the buildup of skin cells. Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriasis. And most current psoriasis treatments have adverse side effects or lose effectiveness over time. But with sufficient therapeutic care, the condition can be managed. Researchers are now looking into CBD’s effects on psoriasis. Preliminary results indicate that CBD oil might prove to be a safe and effective alternative for treating skin problems.

Normally, skin cells renew in about a month, but in those with psoriasis, the cycle happens in just days. In psoriasis, new skin cells cycle to the surface too quickly, before older cells can be removed. This causes itchy, red, painful patches of skin that develop may silvery scales, or become dry and crack.

Scientific investigation into CBD’s effects on psoriasis reveals that it may hold great therapeutic potential for psoriasis patients. Researchers think the endocannabinoid system may play an intimate role in immune system function, and targeting it with cannabinoid therapies may help people suffering from psoriasis finally find relief.

About Psoriasis

Psoriasis is considered an autoimmune skin condition. It causes a red, dry, flaky rash. About one in three people with psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory condition of the joints. [1]

Other types include:

  • Scalp psoriasis
  • Nail psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Guttate psoriasis
  • Inverse psoriasis
  • Pustular psoriasis
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis

Patches and psoriatic breakouts can happen anywhere on the body, but most commonly affect these body parts: [1]

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Back
  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Palms
  • Feet

Psoriasis may manifest in people differently. While some develop silvery scales on their skin, others can have itchy, painful, dry and cracked skin that bleeds. Infections, dry skin, and some pharmaceuticals can exacerbate the condition. [1]

Symptoms of psoriasis can often mimic those of rheumatoid arthritis causing: [1]

  • Swollen and stiff joints
  • Thickened or ridged nails
  • Pain in feet and lower back
  • Swollen fingers and toes

Facts about psoriasis

  • According to the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) about 3% of the world’s population has some form of psoriasis. [2]
  • There are about 150,000 new cases each year in the U.S.
  • Men and women are equally affected by the disease
  • Psoriasis symptoms typically appear first between the ages of 15 and 35 years old.
  • Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis and makes up about 80% of cases.
  • Genetics and family history of psoriasis can increase risk by 10%.
  • The risk is 50% if both parents have the disease.
  • Those with HIV may be at greater risk.
  • Bacterial and viral infections increase risk.
  • Smokers have a higher risk.
  • Obesity may predispose individuals to the risk of developing psoriasis.
  • Stress, anxiety, and other conditions affecting physical and mental health may lead to psoriasis.

Certain medications have been linked to developing psoriasis including the following drugs:

  • Lithium
  • Beta-blockers
  • Tetracycline
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
  • Malaria drugs

Psoriasis can cause anxiety and depression in patients, particularly related with social situations such as work or intimate relationships. Having the disease can also increase the risk of other conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Other autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease
  • Eye problems including conjunctivitis, uveitis, and blepharitis

Research On CBD’s Effects On Psoriasis

Although researchers don’t fully understand the pathophysiology of psoriasis, the immune system and its interaction with the nervous system are thought to be involved in the underlying mechanisms of the disease. The skin disorder is characterized by hyperproliferation of keratinocytes.

Research published in the Journal of Dermatological Science indicates that cannabinoids such as CBD may specifically be able to control the hyper-proliferation of epidermal keratinocytes responsible for psoriatic symptoms. [4]

In the study, scientists investigated CBD, and other cannabinoids, for their ability to inhibit hyperproliferation of human keratinocyte cell line and for any involvement of endocannabinoid receptors.

The U.K. researchers out of Nottingham University’s School of Biomedical Sciences concluded by stating, “Our results show that cannabinoids inhibit keratinocyte proliferation and therefore support the potential role for cannabinoids in the treatment of psoriasis.”

And, according to a paper out of Shiraz University published in the journal, Current Clinical Pharmacology, “The interaction between these two systems [immune and nervous systems] through cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway and also endocannabinoid system, may suggest cannabinoids as potential addition to anti-psoriatic armamentarium.”[3]

CBD in the Treatment of Psoriasis

Current treatments for psoriasis often come with adverse side effects or lose efficacy over time. Patients seeking a safer alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals may benefit from the therapeutic benefits of CBD oil.

Studies suggest that cannabinoids such as CBD can alter how the immune system regulates skin cell growth. Investigation into CBD’s effects on psoriasis suggests that a multitude of benefits such as pain relief and anti-inflammation, as well as anxiolytic and antidepressant properties may be of great benefit to psoriasis patients.

Authors of an article published in JAAD, the Journal of the Academy of Dermatology, conclude their paper titled “The role of cannabinoids in dermatology,” by saying, “These studies identify a relationship between cannabinoids and the immune system through both receptor-mediated and receptor-independent pathways. A promising role for cannabinoids in several eczematous dermatoses and pruritus exists, and dermatologists are already implementing cannabinoids therapy into their practices.”[5]


Cannabinoid research is still in its infancy, and further investigation is needed to confirm clinical applications of cannabinoid therapies for psoriasis. But a growing body of scientific and anecdotal evidence indicates that CBD may potentially provide therapeutic relief for those suffering from psoriasis and similar dermatological conditions.

You may also be interested in our article about CBD’s use in skin care.

Sources for “CBD’s Effects on Psoriasis”:

  1. Psoriasis: Cannabinoids and CBD Research Overview. 2017. Web.
  2. Psoriasis by the Numbers: Facts, Statistics, and You. Anna Pietrangelo. 2018. Web.
  3. Cannabis for Refractory Psoriasis-High Hopes for a Novel Treatment and a Literature Review. Derakhshan N.Curr. Clin. Pharmacol. 2016.
  4. Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis.Wilkinson JD. J. Dermatol. Sci. 2007.
  5. The Role of Cannabinoids in Dermatology. Jessica S. Mounessa. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Vol 77. Issue 1. Pgs. 188-190

Research Reports on CBD’s Effects On Psoriasis

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