At least 28 million people in the United States alone are affected by eczema, a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become itchy, red, and inflamed. While eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a long-lasting disease with no cure, cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) have immunosuppressive properties that make them potential therapeutic agents for treating inflammatory skin diseases. In several studies, cannabinoids have proven beneficial for reducing skin inflammation and itching.
Research has repeatedly shown that cannabinoids are effective for alleviating symptoms of several skin conditions, including eczema. Evidence indicates that the mechanism behind their efficacy for treating skin inflammation has to do with their influence on the endocannabinoid system, a signaling network that plays an important role in skin regulatory functions.
Cannabinoids, like the non-psychoactive compound CBD, interact with cannabinoid receptors found in abundance on the nerve fibers and cells of the skin to assist the endocannabinoid system in its effort to keep skin functions balanced. Researchers have even found evidencethat skin conditions like eczema develop when there’s an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system.
Here’s a look at the findings of some of the studies that have examined the effects of cannabinoids like CBD on eczema:
In 2003, researchers found CBD effective for preventing inflammation and edema, suggesting it could be used as an anti-inflammatory treatment for the skin.
In 2003, cannabinoid receptor agonists were found to effectively reduce skin itching by managing the release of neuropeptide and the activation of antidromic nerve fibers.
A 2008 clinical trial found that 58.6 percent of nearly 2,500 patients with atopic eczema observed significant reductions in skin redness, scaling, itching, chafing and thickening following regular topical cannabinoid cream treatments. Additionally, 38.3 percent of the patients experienced a complete resolution of itching.
In a 2013 animal trial, investigators found topical cannabinoid application reduced pro-inflammatory mediators, indicating cannabinoids could be beneficial for treating inflammatory skin conditions.
A 2017 research review concluded that cannabinoids are effective for treating a wide variety of skin conditions, including eczema.
In 2005, researchers found that twice-daily application of a topical cream containing cannabinoids for three weeks significantly reduced the intensity of itching in 52.4 percent of patients suffering from chronic itching caused by uremic pruritus. Of the patients, 38.1 percent had their skin itching completely eliminated.
CBD topicals are creams, salves, and balms infused with CBD oil. Rather than being taken by mouth like most CBD products, topicals are applied directly to the skin. This allows the CBD and other active compounds in the cream to penetrate and be absorbed into the skin for targeted treatment. When applied topically, CBD and other cannabinoids won’t reach the bloodstream, but are able to reach directly where they’re needed most.