Cannabis in dermatology: the pathologies for which it can be useful
Already used in different therapies, Cannabis can be useful in dermatology in treating a variety of conditions: acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, skin cancer and for mild and chronic forms of itching and pain.
As in other contexts, even in this case the credit goes to the cannabinoids for their anti-inflammatory and antipruritic properties, which can be a promising alternative to traditional treatments.
Cannabis in dermatology: the studies
As reported in a study titled “Cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pruritus: A review” and available on the website of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in skin homeostasis, besides having greater effects on the neurogenic responses such as itching, nociception, inflammation and immune reactions.
The studies, both in vitro and on man, have in fact shown, after therapies based on the use of cannabinoids, significant reductions both in skin damage (scratches, rushes…) and in chronic pruritus in different dermatological and systemic illnesses.
Digging deeper into the topic and confirming the results is also another research, published on Dermatology Online Journal and titled “Cannabinoids in dermatology: a scoping review”, which has conducted a revision of the scientific literature available on the topic to determine the application of the cannabinoids for the treatment of a variety of skin illnesses.
“After conducting our analysis we have discovered that products based on cannabinoids have the potential to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as acne, allergic contact dermatitis, steatopic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, Kaposi’s sarcoma, itching, psoriasis, skin cancer and skin manifestations of systemic sclerosis”, explain the researchers.
Here are some applications and conditions in detail.
Cannabis versus acne vulgaris
Acne vulgaris is a condition which happens when excess of sebo, dirt and dead skin cells obstruct the pores in which bacteria gathers (Propionibacterium acnes) and cause rashes and irritations.
In this context, the CBD, the main cannabinoid present in Cannabis, can help with a double effect: on the one hand it acts as an anti-inflammatory, on the other hand it helps regulate the sebo in excess. This last aspect has reached confirmation also in a study published on the website of The Journal of Clinical Investigation and through which researchers have concluded that “because of the lipostatic, antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory effects combined, the CBD has the potential to be a promising therapeutic ally in treating acne vulgaris”.
Allergic contact dermatitis
The endocannabinoid system – especially when the receptor CB2 is involved – is capable of mediating and increasing the anti-inflammatory responses triggered by allergic contact dermatitis.
This was highlighted in particular by a study carried out on a mouse model (published on Allergy) which showed that the application of topic THC has effectively reduced swelling in areas affected by allergic contact dermatitis.
Cannabis against atopic dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common skin diseases and it affects up to 20% of the global population.
Even in this case the cannabinoids can intervene on different fronts, not only do they act as anti-inflammatories, but, stimulating the receptors CB1 and CB2, reduce the itchiness too and inhibit the release of the peptide related to the calcitonin gene (CGRP), which acts as a vasodilator, can intervene in the transmission of pain (affecting the peripheral and central nervous system) and contributes to the exacerbation reactions of atopic dermatitis.
Similarly, cannabinoids may be useful in the treatment of itching, eczema, psoriasis and dermatological conditions with similar symptoms.
Also on skin cancer cells, both benign and malignant, the receptors CB1 and, especially, CB2 are present. In this context, the activation of the cannabinoid’s receptors can act on different aspects: they may interfere with the migration of endothelial cells, can alter their vascularization and induce apoptosis in tumorigenic epidermal cells, leaving unaltered the normal epidermal cells.
It has also been confirmed that the activation of the cannabinoid’s receptors is capable of slowing down the tumour’s growth, thus preventing the proliferation of melanoma cells.