Colorado, Apr 19: Cannabinoids – a class of chemicals found in cannabis – may be effective as a topical treatment for an array of skin diseases, including psoriasis, severe itching, and atopic and contact dermatitis.
This is the conclusion of a new review by researchers from the University of Colorado.
According to the researchers, current literature suggests that cannabis might be an effective treatment for a variety of skin disorders, particularly pruritus – a condition characterised by severe itching.
As an example, the team points to one study whereby 21 adults with pruritus applied a cannabinoid cream twice daily for 3 weeks. Eight of the adults experienced complete eradication of pruritus as a result.
Other studies suggest that cannabinoids might also be effective for the treatment of melanoma; the team cites studies that identified a decrease in tumour growth in melanoma mouse models following injection with THC.
The researchers also uncovered studies that showed that THC reduced inflammation in mice, which indicates that the skin health benefits of cannabinoids might be down to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Dr Dellavalle warns that the majority of studies included in this review involved animal models, and large-scale clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of topical cannabinoids for skin diseases in humans have yet to be conducted.
However, he notes that the current evidence suggests that patients with skin diseases who fail to respond to conventional treatments might benefit from topical cannabinoid therapies.
“These diseases cause a lot of problems for people and have a direct impact on their quality of life,” says Dr Dellavalle. “The treatments are currently being bought over the Internet and we need to educate dermatologists and patients about the potential uses of them.”
When it comes to melanoma, however, Dr Dellavalle says that he does not recommend topical cannabinoids as a treatment based on current findings.