Scientists are continuously discovering an ever-growing number of therapeutic applications for cannabis. Dermatologists in states with legalized medical marijuana are now recommending cannabis to patients with a variety of skin problems, including acne, psoriasis, and yes, even eczema. Sufficient evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, exists to prove cannabis an effective and natural treatment.
Before hastily ordering marijuana delivery, however, it is important to understand what eczema is and how cannabis works to relieve it. The condition encompasses various dry skin issues, often characterized by dry patches, intense itchiness, and noticeable redness. Although eczema usually develops on feet, hands, and joints, it can occur anywhere on the body, including the eyelids, scalp, and face.
Unfortunately, eczema is a widespread problem, afflicting both adults and children alike, in large numbers, most of whom suffer sporadic flare-ups. What is worse, there is no cure for it. Dermatologists typically advise using moisturizers and soaps designed for sensitive skin, and in severe cases, prescribe steroid-based creams and ointments.
The exact cause of eczema is difficult to determine. It develops for a variety of reasons, with stress, allergies, and environmental factors often responsible for outbreaks. For sufferers, lifelong redness, itchiness, and dry, cracked skin causes immense discomfort, with most taking preventative measures, such as frequent moisturizing and avoiding certain toxins and soaps, to keep it under control.
Effects of Cannabis on Eczema
Cannabis helps to relieve eczema in a number of ways. According to the National Eczema Association, it is highly effective, particularly when applied topically. Studies show cannabinoids with powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-itch, and even anti-bacterial properties, all of which can help enormously when trying to manage this skin condition.
Dr. Henry Granger Piffard, founder of the well-established JAMA Dermatology, suffered eczema firsthand. The leader in dermatological studies made a huge contribution in his field. Dr. Piffard died back in 1910, and his anecdote is the first record of anyone using cannabis to treat eczema. In the very first textbook ever published on dermatological remedies, he wrote:
“A pill of cannabis indica at bedtime has at my hands sometimes afforded relief to the intolerable itching of eczema.”
Scientists now understand the mechanisms of action at play. The effectiveness of cannabis is largely due to the vast number of cannabinoid receptors found in the skin. They belong to the body’s own endocannabinoid system, which manages a network of receptors and neurotransmitters across the body. This system produces its own cannabinoid receptors, which interact with cannabinoids in plants.
Specifically, it works with the cannabinoids in cannabis. By communicating with cannabinoid receptors in the skin, phytocannabinoids in cannabis reduces redness and itching. Furthermore, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, cannabis relieves eczema by also controlling staphylococcus aureus colonization, a normal bacterium in humans that only causes problems at uncontrollable levels.
What is more, cannabinoids prove effective against even the worst staphylococcus infections, those resistant to conventional treatments. Cannabinoids help to manage, even control, outbreaks of this bacteria type. Topical cannabinoids, particularly those containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is particularly effective at reducing inflammation, further relieving the redness and itchiness of eczema.
Cannabis Topicals vs. Traditional Eczema Medications
For patients with severe eczema, dermatologists typically prescribe steroidal creams and ointments. However, the body builds resistance against these types of salves, which means patients require larger amounts in higher dosages to feel any relief, and which ultimately renders these medications ineffective over time. If that is not bad enough, steroidal creams have side effects of their own.
Steroids cause thinning of the skin, often leading to rosacea. Even worse, they penetrate the skin to seep steroids into the bloodstream, which increases blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and hormones. Although frequently prescribed indefinitely for eczema, continued use can compromise your health. Cannabis has no bad or lasting side effects, making it more suitable for treating eczema in the long-term.
Using Cannabis Topicals to Treat Eczema
Not all cannabis creams will work, however. Eczema patients typically suffer sensitive skin, which means that some terpenes in cannabis can cause even more irritation. The best cannabis topicals for eczema are those designed for inflamed and irritated skin, as opposed to those made for joint pain, for example. Topicals high in cannabidiol, or CBD, rather than THC, are generally better for treating skin issues.
There are other factors to consider too. It is imperative to source cannabis topicals properly. Cannabis regulation is in its early stages, with topicals largely unregulated on the market. You could find anything in your moisturizer, including heavy metals, pesticides, or other skin-irritating toxins, so always choose those tested free of contaminants at an independent laboratory before sale. As always, choose organic.
To prevent buying cannabis topicals that aggravate instead of soothe, look for the best quality, preferably medical grade. You are more likely to find this at a dispensary than your local health store. States that have a legal medical or recreational market for cannabis have stricter regulations, so sourcing your topicals correctly will make all the difference in relieving eczema effectively.
More and more eczema patients are ditching steroid creams and using cannabis topicals instead, particularly those with all-natural ingredients and quality guarantees. Some of the best marijuana creams are available for marijuana delivery, but as always, scrutinize the supplier before you buy. You want it to work, so take time to research topicals before trying to relieve any skin ailment with cannabis.