Previously, I had suggested that people try topical cannabis for herpes simplex infection which seems to work quite nicely. Will wonders never cease?
Along with cannabis’ laundry list of laudable applications let’s add one more: the treatment of psoriasis with topical marijuana preparations. There’s plenty here so I put it into two parts. In the second part of this series we will explore further dermatologic uses.
What is psoriasis? From the Mayo Clinic’s definition:
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that changes the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.
Psoriasis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person but may include one or more of the following:
• Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
• Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
• Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
• Itching, burning or soreness
• Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
• Swollen and stiff joints
There are at least eight different types and there is no cure. Treatments range from nearly a dozen different topical creams to a half dozen “light therapies” to the use of powerful immune modulating medications.
Mayo clinic also lists several “alternative medicine” applications such as fish oil and aloe vera. As usual they conveniently leave out Chinese medicine which can also help immensely.
But let’s face reality. Sufferers of psoriasis are never cured and must repeatedly use one or many of the options listed above.
THE PROBLEM WITH CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS
Here’s the problem: systemic immuno-modulating drugs (biologics) have an unusual syllabus of adverse drug reactions.
Biologics work by blocking interactions between immune system cells and certain inflammatory pathways. These drugs control the symptoms of psoriasis by decreasing the immune system’s cross talk.
However, that increases the risk of deadly, life-threatening infections among other things. Translated it means that your medication could actually cause death from sepsis. It’s rare but it’s 100% if it happens to you.
THE SKIN ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
It appears that we have a unique and separate ECS system within the subcutaneous structure called the dermis. We can add this to already known central and peripheral pathways: namely the brain and the immune system. Compelling evidence is accumulating that shows promise for substances that stimulate the body’s innate endocannabinoid system (ECS) to treat or even cure skin disorders.
Researchers have discovered a unique and separate CB system located within the skin:
Recent studies have intriguingly suggested the existence of a functional ECS (endocannabinoid system) in the skin and implicated it in various biological processes (e.g. proliferation, growth, differentiation, apoptosis and cytokine, mediator or hormone production of various cell types of the skin and appendages, such as the hair follicle and sebaceous gland). It seems that the main physiological function of the cutaneous ECS is to constitutively control the proper and well-balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival, as well as immune competence and/or tolerance, of skin cells. The disruption of this delicate balance might facilitate the development of multiple pathological conditions and diseases of the skin (e.g. acne, seborrhea, allergic dermatitis, itch and pain, psoriasis, hair growth disorders, systemic sclerosis and cancer).
For example, Wilkinson et al[ref]Journal of Dermatological Science 2006 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jdermsci.2006.10.009[/ref] demonstrated that certain CB agonists inhibit the rapid cell proliferation of keratinocytes in tissue culture, the hallmark of psoriasis:
Our results show that cannabinoids inhibit keratinocyte proliferation, and therefore support a potential role for cannabinoids in the treatment of psoriasis.
From the site www.cannabiscure.info there are photographs showing the application of cannabis oil to a patient’s limb 3 times a day for 9 days with startling results (right photograph).[ref](http://www.cannabiscure.info/files/cannabis_treatment_4.htm) 06/10/2015[/ref] The left sided picture is from using the toxic drug methotrexate. As you can plainly see, the cannabis oil therapy was far more effective. I cannot substantiate this case report but it is nonetheless very interesting. Anyone who tries this approach please let me know with your comments.