Anti-inflammatory cannabinoids could relive a lot of unpleasant conditions. Researchers from the University of Colorado recently reviewed multiple studies and found that cannabinoids might be an effective topical treatment for an array of skin diseases.
Dr. Robert Dellavalle, senior author of the study, is an associate professor of dermatology at the university’s school of medicine. His secondary research findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Medical News Today published a summary.
Cannabinoids from cannabis
Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis. The best-known cannabinoids, THC, and CBD, were identified decades ago. So far, Israel has been the source of most research on its medicinal uses. However, US researchers hope that they will be able to make more progress soon thanks to the growing acceptance of cannabinoids as medicine.
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Cannabinoids for skin diseases: melanoma, pruritus
The team from Colorado has drawn a link between the injection of THC and the reduction of tumor growth in mice with the most deadly type of skin cancer, melanoma. But, most importantly, they reviewed existing evidence to determine if cannabinoids show potential as a treatment for other skin disorders.
Studies suggest that cannabis as an effective treatment of skin disease, particularly pruritus. A study on 21 adults with severe itchy skin, or pruritus, applied cannabinoid topical cream twice a day for three weeks. Eight respondents reported that their pruritus completely disappeared.
Anti-inflammatory cannabinoids at work
The studies of interest uncovered by the researchers show that anti-inflammatory cannabinoids can treat certain skin disorders. Receptors in the endocannabinoid system are particularly prevalent in the body’s immune system. Many believe that CBD, or cannabidiol, an active ingredient in cannabis with no psychoactive effect, is key to reducing pain caused by inflammation.
In other words, researchers are looking at the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids as the possible reason for skin health benefits. A word of warning from Dr. Dellavalle though: all the studies reviewed involved animal models. Clinical trials on a large scale are needed to assess the efficacy and safety of cannabinoids for skin diseases in humans.
Solution to difficult cases
Dr. Dellavalle is interested in evidence from patients with dermatological diseases that don’t respond to standard treatments. He believes that they might benefit from topical cannabis treatments.
Dr. Dellavalle says people generally get cannabis treatments via the Internet. They choose to self-medicate. Dermatologists should be educated about the potential treatments and uses of cannabis. He doesn’t recommend cannabis as a topical treatment for melanoma as things currently stand.
As cannabis becomes more accepted and used as a legal medication, the benefits will reveal themselves to doctors and their patients. People have believed in cannabis as a medicine for thousands of years. Now, researchers are starting to prove that the ancient folk uses of cannabis have a scientific basis.
Meanwhile, the cosmetics industry is using hemp in skin creams. The soothing effect of anti-inflammatory cannabinoids is making the products popular. Scientifically approved, topical anti-inflammatory cannabinoids for medicinal use may be some way away, but people aren’t waiting for the science.