Cannabis contains chemicals called cannabinoids. The human body also produces some cannabinoids naturally.
In the body, chemical messengers called endocannabinoids play a role in many functions, including:
- eye pressure
When a person uses cannabis, the cannabinoids in the drug may affect some of these bodily functions.
Researchers believe that some cannabinoids may offer several possible health benefits. These include the following:
Inflammation is a symptom of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
A 2009 study found that some of the cannabinoids that occur in cannabis, including some forms of THC, could help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.
In 2016, research suggested that some cannabinoids might benefit people with psoriasis by affecting the interaction between the body's immune and nervous systems.
Slowing cell growth
In people with psoriasis, skin cells reproduce too quickly. Cannabinoids may slow the growth of skin cells and reduce their accumulation on the skin's surface.
In 2007, a study found that the cannabinoids delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabinol, and cannabigerol appeared to slow the growth of cells called keratinocytes in the outer layer of the skin. The researchers proposed that these substances could play a role in treating psoriasis.
A 2016 review supported the idea that cannabinoids may be a useful treatment for psoriasis.
Cannabis may help to reduce pain. A 2015 article in JAMA noted that there is significant scientific evidence to indicate that cannabinoids can relieve pain.
This ability may mean that cannabis could help people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to manage the pain and discomfort relating to this condition.
Conversely, in 2018, researchers in Australia found no link between cannabis use and a reduction in pain or lower use of opioids to control pain.
However, the participants were not taking specific cannabinoids for medical purposes. They all had prescriptions for opioids and were choosing to use cannabis alongside them to relieve pain, improve sleep, or relax.
Harnessing the power of cannabinoids as medication may produce benefits that are not apparent with recreational use.
The cannabinoids in cannabis may relieve the itching that occurs with certain skin conditions, including psoriasis.
A 2017 review exploring the relevance of cannabis in dermatology noted that a cream containing palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which affects cannabinoid type-1 receptors, appeared to reduce itching in people with prurigo, lichen simplex, and pruritus.
The authors suggested that cannabinoids could play a role in reducing itching.
One of the most painful symptoms of psoriasis is the cracking and subsequent bleeding of the affected skin patches.
In the future, treatments involving cannabinoids could help heal the open sores that psoriasis causes.