Cannabinoids contain anti-inflammatory properties that may make them useful in the treatment of a wide-range of skin diseases including eczema, psoriasis, atopic and contact dermatitis, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The new study appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Currently, 28 states allow comprehensive medical cannabis programs with close to 1 in 10 adult cannabis users in the U.S. utilizing the drug for medical reasons.
"Perhaps the most promising role for cannabinoids is in the treatment of itch," says the study's senior author Dr. Robert Dellavalle, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in a news release.
In one study, eight of 21 patients who applied a cannabinoid cream twice a day for three weeks completely eliminated pruritus. The drug may have reduced the dry skin that gave rise to the itch.
Dellavalle believes the primary driver in these cannabinoid treatments could be their anti-inflammatory properties. In the studies he and his fellow researchers reviewed, they found that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the active ingredient in marijuana, reduced swelling and inflammation in mice. At the same time, mice with melanoma saw significant inhibition of tumor growth when injected with THC.
"These are topical cannabinoid drugs with little or no psychotropic effect that can be used for skin disease," Dellavalle says. Still, he cautions that most of these studies are based on laboratory models and large-scale clinical trials have not been performed. That may change as more and more states legalize cannabis.