CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, from chronic pain and depression to anxiety.
Perhaps the most promising role for cannabinoids is in the treatment of itch
Dr. Robert Dellavalle
Cannabinoids contain anti-inflammatory properties that could also make them useful in the treatment of a wide-range of skin diseases, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, summarises the current literature on the subject and concludes that pharmaceuticals containing cannabinoids may be effective against eczema, psoriasis, atopic and contact dermatitis.
“Perhaps the most promising role for cannabinoids is in the treatment of itch,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Robert Dellavalle, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
He noted that in one study, eight of 21 patients who applied a cannabinoid cream twice a day for three weeks completely eliminated severe itching or pruritus.
The drug may have reduced the dry skin that gave rise to the itch.
Dellavalle believes the primary driver in these cannabinoid treatments could be their anti-inflammatory properties.
In the studies he and his fellow researchers reviewed, they found that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the active ingredient in marijuana, reduced swelling and inflammation in mice.
At the same time, mice with melanoma saw significant inhibition of tumour growth when injected with THC.
“These are topical cannabinoid drugs with little or no psychotropic effect that can be used for skin disease,” Dellavalle said.
Still, he cautioned that most of these studies are based on laboratory models and large-scale clinical trials have not been performed. That may change as more and more states legalise cannabis.
Dellavalle said for those who have used other medications for itch and skin disease without success, trying a cannabinoid is a viable option especially if it has no psychotropic effect. He did not recommend such medications for cancer based on current evidence.
“These diseases cause a lot of problems for people and have a direct impact on their quality of life,” he said. “The treatments are currently being bought over the internet and we need to educate dermatologists and patients about the potential uses of them.”
According to Harvard Health, CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and “for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.”
As reported by the Arthritis Foundation, the active ingredient may also ease arthritis pain, based on findings from animal studies.
Results from human studies are more mixed, however. “For example, a 2016 analysis of human trials for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia found that CBD improved pain and sleep, but the studies were small and of poor quality,” added the health site.
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