Cannabis could treat eczema and psoriasis, researchers claim.
University of Colorado scientists have begun trials on a compound in the drug to determine if it can combat the common skin conditions.
They believe CBD – which doesn’t cause a ‘high’ – could offer hope for millions of eczema and psoriasis sufferers.
The anti-inflammatory compound, known officially as cannabidiol, is already backed for its plethora of benefits by the World Health Organization.
Global health chiefs gave it a clean bill of health in a report published in December and declared it had no adverse outcomes. Holland & Barrett already stocks an oil form of the compound, which is legal to buy in the UK. Cannabis, however, remains illegal.
Researchers believe CBD – which doesn’t cause a ‘high’ – could offer hope for millions of eczema and psoriasis sufferers Researchers, led by Dr Robert Dellavalle, have begun experiments on 40 Parkinson’s patients with seborrheic dermatitis, InsideScience reports.
Trials of a CBD-based pill have yet to finish – but studies have shown compounds in cannabis can help eczema and psoriasis patients. Dr Dellavelle told the website: ‘There’s a large segment of the population that doesn’t like using steroids, even if they are topical steroids on their skin.
‘This [CBD] would be an alternative, natural product for them to try.’ He added that there’s a ‘potential’ of using CBD that may work in a different way to patients who receive no benefits from topical steroids.
Ian Hamilton, a drug researcher at York University told MailOnline: ‘There is emerging evidence that chemicals within cannabis might offer potential health benefits.
The differences between THC and CBD
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both derived from the cannabis plant. Together, they are part of the cannabinoid group of compounds found in hashish, hash oil, and most strains of marijuana.
THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the euphoric, ‘high’ feeling often associated with marijuana. THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and brain and creates the sensations of euphoria and anxiety.
CBD does not fit these receptors well, and actually decreases the effects of THC, and is not psychoactive. CBD is thought to help reduce anxiety and inflammation.
‘But we will need more than one research trial to be done before we can say whether this works or not.’ He added: ‘It might be several years before this research produces medicines that can be used for conditions such as eczema.
Psoriasis strikes around 650,000 people in the UK, including former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher. Kim Kardashian is one of eight million victims in the US. Six million people in the UK have eczema, including singer Adele. Hollywood actor Brad Pitt is one of 31 million sufferers in the US.
Current treatments for both conditions revolve around topical steroid creams and emollients to soothe and hydrate patches of red, flaky skin. But the medications are known to have side effects, such as skin thinning. The new Colorado research could pave the way for a better treatment.
CBD is, however, widely different to THC – which is the psychoactive compound that causes a high in cannabis and linked to psychosis. Campaigners and charities fighting for multiple sclerosis patients have argued for the UK Government to make the itself legal.
They claim thousands of patients are often left with no other options than to turn to weed when conventional drugs fail to dampen their pain. But concerns have been raised that Britain’s market of the drug is dominated by super-strength skunk – which is low in CBD and high in THC.
Current laws state those caught in possession of the Class B substance face up to five years in prison in the UK. The Home Office declared last July that there was no intention to make cannabis legal – but made it legal to buy CBD six months prior.
It is unsure whether the UK will follow suit with other countries that make medical marijuana legal, like Australia, Uruguay and several states in the US.