Cannabinoid-Containing Pharmaceuticals May Be Effective Against Eczema, Psoriasis, Atopic Dermatitis, and Contact Dermatitis, Review Concludes; Anti-Inflammatory Effects Could Be Key; Most Promising Role May Be in Treatment of Itch

Cannabinoids contain anti-inflammatory properties that could make them useful in the treatment of a wide-range of skin diseases, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The new study, published online on April 14, 2017 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, summarizes the current literature on the subject and concludes that pharmaceuticals containing cannabinoids may be effective against eczema, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and contact dermatitis. 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. As researchers examine the drug for use in treating nausea, chronic pain and anorexia, more and more dermatologists are looking into its ability to fight a range of skin disease. "Perhaps the most promising role for cannabinoids is in the treatment of itch," said the study's senior author Dr. Robert Dellavalle, M.D., Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He noted that, in one study, 8 of 21 patients who applied a cannabinoid cream twice a day for three weeks completely eliminated severe itching (pruritus). The drug may have reduced the dry skin that gave rise to the itch. Dr. 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," Dr. Dellavalle said.
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