Medical cannabis holds promise to help people with inflammatory skin conditions

People with skin conditions are open to trying medical cannabis products as potential treatments, according to a study from The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the University of Maryland.

The study, said to be the largest of its kind involving 504 respondents, found that 88.8% support the use of medical cannabis for dermatologic diseases and many already are doing so even without guidance from a dermatologist.

Products available over-the-counter are hemp-derived and made up of CBD or cannabidiol; they have very little or no THC. Both THC and CBD are naturally occurring in cannabis plants but CBD isn’t mind altering and won’t cause a high like THC.

Nearly 18% of those surveyed said they use over-the-counter medical cannabis products, or MCPs, in the form of creams or oil-based products to treat conditions, such as acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

“Given that we know that consumers are already using cannabis-based products without a doctor’s recommendation, it is of the utmost importance that products available over-the-counter have a certain level of quality assurance,” said Dr. Adam Friedman, professor and chair of dermatology at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in D.C.

Friedman recommends people check a product’s company website or request the statement of quality assurance, which goes over everything from safety to perhaps even include information about efficacy. He said not being able to get a statement of quality assurance should be a clear sign not to use the product.

“The world of medical cannabis is still in its infancy, much of which is because of all the tight regulation and the illegal designation of anything from the cannabis plant,” Friedman said.

He believes that the future should be bright for MCPs because of what science is learning about the human endocannabinoid system. It can be manipulated with cannabis to have tremendous impact on inflammation and cell turnover.

“The endocannabinoid system regulates many different biological processes. It comprises endocannabinoids, meaning cannabinoids, like found in the cannabis plant that our bodies make that then bind to cannabis receptors to do a whole range of things from sending signals of pain and itch to regulating inflammation and even how cells make themselves,” he said.

“The future is tremendously bright for the translation of cannabis to the bedside, in almost every discipline in medicine, the science is there. We now need the clinical research to confirm what product works on what,” Friedman said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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