While medical marijuana might be most commonly administered orally through smoking, vaping, or edibles to treat conditions of the mind or internally within the body, new research supports that cannabis can also be useful for skin conditions.
According to new research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, cannabinoids, or the chemical compounds in weed, could play a role treating itchiness. Already, there’s some evidence that cannabis could be useful in treating xerosis (abnormally dry skin), pruritis (itchy skin), prurigo (extremely itchy spots), and allergic dermatitis (rash or reaction).
“Perhaps the most promising role for cannabinoids is in the treatment of itch,” says lead study author Robert Dellavalle, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In addition to the above listed conditions, cannabis can also treat those such as eczema, psoriasis, atopic and contact dermatitis.
“These diseases cause a lot of problems for people and have a direct impact on their quality of life,” says Dellavalle. “The treatments are currently being bought over the internet and we need to educate dermatologists and patients about the potential uses of them.”
In the study, eight out of the 21 patients who used a cannabinoid cream twice a day for three weeks were able to completely relieve their severe itching. Dellavalle credits these results to the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis, since as he and fellow researchers observed, THC, the main compound in cannabis, brought down swelling and inflammation in mice. Dellavalle acknowledges, however, that these studies are happening in lab models, and not large-scale clinical trials, which are needed.
Nonetheless, cannabinoid skin-based medicine is effective, and doesn’t cause users to get high. “These are topical cannabinoid drugs with little or no psychotropic effect that can be used for skin disease,” says Dellavalle.
Whether you’re treating psoriasis or acne, topical cannabinoid formulations, such as oil or cream, can help. Cannabis oil often contains omega-3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids, which are healthy for the skin and cell production. It may also contain gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which is also good for the skin, both in its anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties.
Moreover, if you’re using cannabis oil on your skin, you may also benefit from other anti-inflammatory or painkiller effects, if you also apply it to where you ache.