August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, and with approximately 8 million Americans, and 125 million people worldwide are affected by Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis, there is good reason for this focus. Some may think this is simply a cosmetic skin condition, but in fact, it is a serious auto-immune disease with connections to chronic inflammation. The most prevalent symptoms are raised, red and scaly patches that appear on the surface of the skin. They are itchy, painful and disrupt daily life for those who suffer from it.
The largest organ in the body is our skin. Most may not give this much thought, but it is the first line of defense against environmental toxins and infection from pathogens. Normally, skin cells renew about every month or so. However, Psoriasis accelerates that process to only a handful of days. This creates the signature outward symptoms of thick redness, silver scales and raised patches. These most often appear on elbows, knees, back, face and scalp, palms and feet, cause a great deal of discomfort which can be debilitating. For some, the disease can worsen to Psoriatic Arthritis; when the body’s immune system begins attacking healthy tissue causing swelling and significant pain in the joints.
It is unknown what causes Psoriasis, but there is strong indication that genetics may play a role in triggering the illness, as well as infections, environmental toxins, skin injuries, stress, cold weather, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and certain medications.
In 2014, Psoriasis was recognized as a serious non-communicable disease with links to cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and depression by the World Health Organization (WHO). The assembly also acknowledged the huge economic impact in health costs, lost productivity and the psychological damage brought on by the stigma of visible skin lesions. This was also studied by the Journal of American Academy (JAMA) in Dermatology (2013 is the most recent data) and it has estimated the cost to be about $135 billion dollars in the United States alone, with $11 billion being attributed to lost productivity.
There is no known cure for Psoriasis, however, there are several types of treatments ranging from oral medication or injections at the site of lesions, light therapy, and topical ointments. The management of the disease depends on the severity of symptoms and tolerance of the patient for the therapy. Unfortunately, most mainstream treatment options come with negative side effects ranging from serious birth defects from some injections, burns, and blisters from light therapy or irritation, thinning of the skin and warnings for use during pregnancy for topical medications.
The inflammatory immune response is also a factor in the disease. It’s been shown that TNF-alpha, an inflammatory mediator, and protein normally part of the inflammatory response to antigens, goes into overdrive for those suffering from Psoriasis, and related conditions. Essentially, the body’s process for fighting off infections gets confused and sends too much “help” stimulus to the surface and joints. This produces a buildup of inflammation where it shouldn’t be and causes severe pain and in some cases immobility. In several research studies over the last several years, Cannabidiol (CBD) was shown as an effective inhibitor of TNF-alpha, thereby showing potential for symptom relief with virtually no negative side effects.
A 2019 study at the University of Debrecen, Hungary noted that over the last two decades it’s been confirmed that the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a regulator of homeostasis throughout the body, is also present in the skin. Similar results came from joint research in 2017 (Drexel University and the Universities of Arizona and California Dermatology divisions) which points to the ECS as a primary target for dermatological conditions. This acknowledgment will likely spur more research into the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) for all skin related illnesses including Psoriasis, as it has been shown to effectively assist ECS in maintaining proper balance throughout the body systems.
Psoriasis is gaining more attention worldwide and certainly within the medical research community. The significant cost to human health and well-being is clear and as more conclusions are reached Canbiola will be providing clients with updates.
FDA Disclaimer: The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.