University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus researchers have concluded that the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be useful in treating pruritus – severe itching.
The occasional itch is certainly normal. You may even develop a sympathetic itch just while reading this article (which is a normal reaction too).
However, in some people itching becomes so severe that it becomes a living hell; resulting in scarring, lichenification and bruising caused by persistent scratching. This degree of itching is often associated with skin disease or metabolic, haematological or endocrine disorders.
A study by the UoC researchers that delved into dozens of papers on the topic found THC could be an effective treatment for severe itching associated with eczema, psoriasis, atopic and contact dermatitis.
While THC is a psychoactive compound, when used in a cream it doesn’t have a marked perception or mood-altering effect.
“These are topical cannabinoid drugs with little or no psychotropic effect that can be used for skin disease,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Robert Dellavalle.
“These diseases cause a lot of problems for people and have a direct impact on their quality of life. The treatments are currently being bought over the internet and we need to educate dermatologists and patients about the potential uses of them.”
The research indicated that as well as leading to reduced swelling and inflammation in mice, when mice with melanoma were injected with THC, a significant reduction of tumor growth was observed. There have been many claims over the years that cannabis could cure melanoma. Last year we mentioned a cannabis therapy trial for melanoma patients which will run over two years and put these claims to the test.
Some of the research examined in University of Colorado study isn’t new, with a couple of papers dating back to over a decade ago – but the pace of research has picked up in recent years and more dermatologists are looking into the potential of medical cannabis in addressing a range of skin diseases.
A paper on the findings, “The Role Of Cannabinoids In Dermatology”, has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.