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Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to rapidly multiply, resulting in scale-like patches on the skin’s surface. These patches can be itchy, red, and inflamed. Additionally, around 10 to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, a painful chronic condition.
There’s no known cure for psoriasis, and it can be hard to manage. But some treatments can help ease symptoms. Many people with psoriasis are turning to cannabis for help. Cannabis, including cannabinoids like CBD, is often used to manage painful conditions and inflammation.
Here’s what you need to know about using cannabis to treat psoriasis symptoms.
Cannabis, cannabinoids, and psoriasis
Can cannabis be used to manage psoriasis? The research is limited.
Cannabis contains dozens of chemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids work by affecting the endocannabinoid system that helps to keep your body healthy. Your endocannabinoid system affects many different parts of your body, including your digestive system, brain, and skin.
Well-known cannabinoids include CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is non-impairing, meaning it won’t get you high. THC, on the other hand, can produce a high — plus, it can show up on drug tests.
By law, CBD products are required to contain less than 0.3 percent THC. But most CBD products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So, keep in mind that some may still have enough THC to be detectable on a drug test.
Research on cannabinoids for psoriasis symptoms
- Affect skin cell growth. A 2007 study suggested that cannabinoids could treat psoriasis by stopping the buildup of skin cells. A 2017 study found that a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-133, might be effective at treating psoriasis, although animal and human trials are still needed. More recently, a review published in 2019 concluded that cannabinoids could be able to treat psoriasis, but that more research is needed before we know for sure.
- Act as an anti-inflammatory. Cannabinoids like CBD are also anti-inflammatories, and as recent research points out, cannabinoids are connected to inflammatory skin conditions and might be able to treat them.
- Manage pain. Plenty of research suggests that CBD can effectively manage pain. Given that psoriatic arthritis is a painful condition, many people with psoriasis use CBD. Other cannabinoids, such as THC, have also been linked to soothing pain. Pain management is a common reason why people seek medical cannabis.
More research is needed before the relationship between cannabis and CBD and psoriasis is fully understood. But many people with psoriasis try cannabis and CBD to soothe their condition with varying levels of success.
CBD termsWhen researching and buying CBD products online, you may see the following terms:
CBD isolate: CBD with no other cannabinoids and no THC Broad-spectrum CBD: contains most cannabinoids, but it generally doesn’t include THC Full-spectrum CBD: contains all the plant’s cannabinoids, including THC
CBD oil ranges from around $0.04 per milligram (mg) up to $0.20 per mg of CBD, depending on the factors outlined below.
CBD-infused topical treatments tend to be more expensive — think the price of a topical treatment for psoriasis plus the price of CBD oil.
When it comes to buying CBD for psoriasis, the price will depend on a range of factors, including:
- Potency: The more CBD in the product, the more expensive it will be. The amount of CBD will be shown in milligrams, or mg, on the product packaging.
- Form: Whether you buy it in the form of a vaporizer, oil, or edible will affect the price.
- Cannabinoids present: CBD isolate is cheaper, while full-spectrum CBD is more expensive. If the product is high in other cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG), it can be pricier.
- Other ingredients: A CBD-infused brownie made with expensive ingredients, for example, will also be more expensive.
- Brand: Some brands are cheaper than others, but this doesn’t necessarily make them worse.
- Location: The price of CBD varies from state to state and country to country.
All products below are third-party tested to verify their cannabinoid content and ensure they don’t contain any heavy metals or pesticides.
We indicate the price for each CBD product with dollar signs, which are based on the price for the total amount of the product. The products below range in size from 30 to 118 milliliters (mL), or 1 to 4 ounces (oz.).
- $ = under $50
- $$ = $50–$90
- $$$ = over $100
For psoriasis flare-ups
Psoriasis flare-ups can be caused by a range of issues, including stress, illness, and external factors like allergies. Finding relief during a flare-up can be difficult.
Green Roads Full Spectrum CBD Oil, 25 mg/mL
- Price: $$
- 750 mg per 30 mL bottle
- Test analysis: Available online
Some people may consider a strong CBD oil during a psoriasis flare-up. Green Roads, an award-winning CBD brand, has a range of CBD oils. The oils come as broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, or CBD isolate and in varying strengths.
Their 750-mg, full-spectrum CBD oil offers 25 mg per 1-mL serving — a good place to start if you’re new to CBD and dealing with a psoriasis flare-up.
Buy Green Roads Full Spectrum CBD Oil, 25 mg/mL online.
For facial psoriasis
Given that facial skin is often more sensitive and acne-prone than the skin on the rest of your body, you might want a different kind of CBD product for your face.
Saint Jane’s Luxury Beauty Serum
- Price: $$$
- 560 mg CBD per 30 mL bottle
- Test analysis: Available on product page
Saint Jane’s Luxury Beauty Serum contains about 560 mg of full-spectrum CBD in a 30-mL bottle of serum, making it very potent. It also contains ingredients like rose, calendula, and sea buckthorn — all of which work to calm and soothe dry, irritated skin. This award-winning serum has been praised by multiple beauty and health publications.
Saint Jane also has this serum in a smaller 9-mL bottle.
Buy Saint Jane’s Luxury Beauty Serum online.
For scalp psoriasis
Psoriasis of the scalp can be uncomfortable and itchy. It’s often tough to find hair products that soothe the scalp while effectively caring for your hair.
Steam Botanicals Shampoo & Conditioner
- Price: $
- 10 mg THC, 52 mg CBD per 60 mL bottle
- Test analysis: Available online
STEAM Botanicals has a range of CBD-infused hair products, including Active Botanicals Shampoo, Rich Recharge Conditioner, and High Healing Hair & Scalp Oil.
Relatively affordable but still high quality, STEAM Botanicals has a rigorous testing process that ensures their products are of the highest quality. You can find more about their products’ certificates of analysis (COAs) here. A COA means the product has been third-party tested.
Their hair care products are gentle yet effective at cleansing and nourishing hair.
Buy Steam Botanicals Activate Botanicals Shampoo or Rich Recharge Conditioner online.
Psoriasis flare-ups can be caused by stress, so relaxation is key to managing the condition. Given that CBD has been linked to soothing stress and anxiety, it could be helpful to use CBD to calm yourself.
Vertly Relief Lotion
- Price: $
- 155 mg per 88 mL bottle
- Test analysis: Available on product page
This hemp CBD lotion from Vertly combines the relaxing scent of lavender with soothing ingredients like aloe vera and arnica. This makes it hydrating and soothing for the skin. The bottle contains 150 mg of full-spectrum CBD.
Buy Vertly Relief Lotion online.
Calm by Wellness Hemp CBD Lavender Lotion
- Price: $
- 200 mg CBD per 118 mL bottle
- Test analysis: Available via QR code and by email
The Hemp CBD Lavender Lotion from Calm by Wellness combines lavender with moisturizing ingredients like aloe leaf juice and coconut oil. The bottle contains 200 mg of broad-spectrum CBD.
Customers can request up-to-date COAs from Calm by Wellness via email and their website.
Buy Calm by Wellness Hemp CBD Lavender Lotion online.
How to use
Usage instructions vary from product to product. Often, the product will have usage guidelines on the packaging.
Generally, people tolerate CBD very well. It’s possible for humans to consume high amounts of it without it having harmful effects. However, you still don’t want to take too much, as it can be unnecessary and wasteful.
Be aware of side effects
Side effects are still possible if taking CBD by mouth, such as:
CBD products can also interact with certain medications and interfere with their effectiveness. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before using CBD therapeutically.
Read label instructions and servings
Gummies, edibles, and capsules generally have a predetermined serving suggestion. Typically, you’d have one as a dose and wait for several hours before attempting to have another one, if needed.
With oil and tinctures, it’s easier to modify a CBD dose. Each drop contains a certain number of milligrams of CBD. If you’d like to increase your dose, you simply drop more into your mouth.
Typical instructions involve placing a drop under the tongue and holding it there before swallowing. For alcohol- and glycerin-based tinctures, this allows the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream through the capillaries in your mouth.
As with other edible products, wait several hours to allow full effects to develop.
Start small, like 5 mg of CBD
When it comes to taking CBD by mouth, start with a small amount, like 5 or 10 mg. Gradually increase it after a week, if needed, until your symptoms are a little better. You might want to keep a notebook and make a note of your symptoms along with the amount of CBD you’re using. This will help you figure out how much CBD you need for relief.
It’s hard to say exactly how many milligrams of CBD to use for psoriasis, as there have been no human trials testing it. On psoriasis forums, many people report having success with using at least 10 mg per day and gradually increasing it to 20 or 30 mg.
Those with psoriatic arthritis tend to use more CBD per day to manage pain — usually 20 to 40 mg. Many people take more CBD during a flare-up.
Make symptoms manageable
It’s important to understand that CBD probably won’t make your symptoms disappear entirely. Don’t try to increase your dose to make symptoms totally go away — instead, increase it until your symptoms are more manageable.
Most people increase it until they feel relief or can’t afford a higher dose, as CBD can be costly for some.
How to choose CBD products for psoriasis
Consider the form
CBD comes in different forms, including:
- topicals, such as creams, lotions, balms, and more
- oils and tinctures
- edibles, such as snacks, candy, beverages, and other foods
- capsules and gummies
Which form of CBD is better at treating psoriasis? So far, it’s unclear, as there isn’t enough research on it.
Oils and tinctures are popular among people with psoriasis, and anecdotally, they’re often said to be effective. Many people opt for topical treatments they apply directly to the skin. These treatments often include hydrating ingredients that could help soothe psoriasis symptoms.
A note about vaporizersThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people avoid using THC vaping products. If you do use THC vaping products, be aware of changes to your breathing. Contact a healthcare provider if you notice symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and nausea.Long-term effects of vaping and e-cigarette use are still being researched.
Look for products with a test report
When choosing CBD products for psoriasis, it’s essential to only choose those that are third-party tested and provide a COA for each batch. This means an independent lab has tested and confirmed that the products contain the ingredients and amounts listed on labels and product descriptions.
Look for a COA that tells you:
- whether other cannabinoids, such as THC, are present in the product
- how much CBD and other cannabinoids the product contains
- they tested for the presence of heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins
While the link between cannabis and psoriasis needs to be researched more thoroughly, there’s some evidence that suggests CBD might be able to treat psoriasis.
If you have psoriasis, trying a CBD-based product might be a good idea. It’s important to talk to your doctor before trying CBD. Be sure to thoroughly research a product before you buy it.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.