How Does CBD Oil Work for Psoriatic Arthritis?
Lindsay Curtis is a health writer with over 20 years of experience in writing health, science & wellness-focused articles.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles, California.
CBD (cannabidiol) has exploded in popularity in recent years, in large part because it has shown promise in reducing pain, alleviating anxiety, and reducing symptoms of certain health conditions.
One such condition that may benefit from CBD oil is psoriatic arthritis (PsA), a chronic (long-term) disease affecting the joints. While there is no cure for the condition, some people are turning to CBD to manage the symptoms of the disease.
Here are a few things to know if you want to try using CBD to treat the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabis plants contain chemicals called cannabinoids. The two major cannabinoids are:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which makes a person feel “high”
- Cannabidiol (CBD), which has no psychoactive effects but can provide a number of therapeutic benefits
Both CBD and THC act on a communication system in the body known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex biological system that affects appetite, fertility, sleep, mood, and memory. The ECS is active in the body even if you do not use cannabis.
CBD isolate is the purest form on the market. It contains 99% CBD, with no other additives or chemicals from the cannabis plant from which it is derived.
CBD binds to and activates receptors in the brain that create a therapeutic effect in the body, which allows users to get relief from symptoms without feeling impaired.
Types of Arthritis
Arthritis is a term to describe conditions that affect the joints and surrounding tissues. Though there are over 100 types of arthritis, they all cause inflammation and swelling in one or more joints.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an autoimmune disease that causes an overactive immune system to attack normal cells and tissues in the joints. PsA affects some people who have psoriasis—a skin condition that causes the formation of itchy red patches topped with silvery scales.
PsA typically is diagnosed after psoriasis. PsA can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints and surrounding tissues. An estimated 2.25 million Americans have psoriatic arthritis.
PsA most commonly affects joints in the arms and legs, including the elbows, wrists, hands, and feet. It can also impact the spine, hips, and shoulders, though this is less common.
There are several types of psoriatic arthritis, which are categorized by the joints they affect.
The five types of psoriatic arthritis are:
- Distal interphalangeal predominant, which affects the end joints of the fingers and toes and can cause nail changes (such as pitting, spotting, and separation from the nail bed)
- Asymmetric oligoarticular, which affects fewer than five joints in the body and typically occurs on one side of the body
- Symmetric polyarthritis, the most common type of PsA, affecting five or more joints on both sides of the body
- Spondylitis, which involves inflammation of the spinal column and can cause neck pain, stiffness in the lower back, and limited mobility
- Arthritis mutilans, a severe type of PsA that can wear down, destroy, and deform joints in the fingers, hands, wrists, and feet
CBD and PsA Symptoms
Stress can cause psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to flare up. People with PsA may find CBD helps reduce anxiety and prevent flares in addition to decreasing pain and inflammation in the joints.
CBD for Psoriasis Symptoms
Approximately one in four people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. Some will develop symptoms of PsA slowly over time, and others will experience the onset of severe symptoms quickly.
Some common symptoms of PsA include:
- Swollen fingers and toes
- Stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling, and tenderness in affected joints
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling in tendons (flexible fibrous tissue connecting muscle to bone)
- Nail changes (like pitting and separation from nail bed)
- Redness and pain in one or both eyes
- Limited range of motion
- Morning stiffness
- Anxiety and depression
CBD is being studied as a treatment for many conditions, including psoriatic arthritis, but research supporting its effectiveness is still limited. There is research demonstrating that CBD can effectively manage and reduce pain, however, so it might help some people with PsA.
CBD cannot cure conditions like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, but research has shown that it might help some people cope with their symptoms by decreasing pain sensation, inflammation, and the anxiety that a person might experience related to the condition.
A review of 49 studies found that CBD may help with generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. A 2019 study found that 80% of participants had reduced anxiety after a month of taking CBD.
What Triggers Flares?
Psoriasis can be triggered by certain factors in a person’s environment or even conditions within their own body, such as illness, foods, and medications.
Some common psoriasis triggers include:
- Allergies (such as those to certain foods, alcohol, or environmental conditions)
- Medication interactions
- Skin trauma/injury
- Smoking (dry and cold weather, in particular)
Some people are genetically predisposed to developing psoriatic arthritis, and approximately one in three people with psoriasis will develop PsA.
Are There Any Side Effects?
CBD is generally well-tolerated but can cause some side effects, particularly when taken in large amounts.
Possible side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Reduced appetite
Best CBD for Managing Psoriasis Pain
There is limited research into CBD’s effectiveness at treating psoriasis, but its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties are well documented. Anecdotally, some people have found that CBD helps them manage their psoriasis symptoms.
Types of CDB
There are three basic types of CBD:
Verywell / Michela Buttignol
- Full-spectrum CBD contains all the natural components found in cannabis plants (and hemp plants), including terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids as well as cannabinoids. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains trace amounts of THC. When these plant compounds interact with the body, they help a user obtain the desired therapeutic benefits.
- Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD but with all traces of THC removed. Users will not experience any mind-altering effects.
- CBD isolates are produced by using a detailed extraction and purification process of the cannabis/hemp plant. All other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are removed to create a 99% pure CBD.
There is not enough research to determine which form of CBD is best for treating psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. You might want to try different forms and types to determine which works best for you.
Products and Delivery Methods
There are many different ways to use CBD, which means that you can tailor it to your preferences and needs. Examples of CBD products that are available include:
- Topicals (lotions, rubs, and creams)
- Tinctures (alcohol-based extracts)
- Edibles (like gummies)
- Capsules and pills
- Vaping products (oil)
How Much to Use
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved CBD for treating epilepsy. As a result, there is no standard dosage of CBD for treating psoriasis.
Follow the recommended usage guidelines on the products that you are using. You may want to slowly increase the amount that you use until you feel that you’ve reached the right dosage for symptom relief.
How to Buy CBD
Although CBD is generally safe, the industry is poorly regulated. When you are looking for a product that meets your needs, there are a few key factors to consider.
CBD from reputable companies should have information about the product on the label, including:
- Amount of CBD per serving
- Suggested use and dosage
- Whether it is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate
- List of ingredients
- Manufacturer and distributor name
In addition to checking the labels, make sure that you:
- Avoid products that make sweeping, definitive health claims (like promises to ‘”cure”).
- Look for companies that provide third-party testing results of their products.
- Check customer reviews for products since testimonials from users can tell you a lot about a product.
Before you try a CBD product, ask your doctor if it could interact with any over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications or supplements that you take.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to feel the effects of CBD for PsA?
The type of CBD that you use will determine how long it will take to feel the effects. It generally takes 15 minutes to feel the effects after vaping or using sublingual tinctures (those placed under the tongue). Ingesting CBD oil or gummies will take longer (up to two hours). Topicals may take up to an hour for effects to be felt, and they peak around 90 minutes after application.
How much CBD oil should I use for psoriatic arthritis pain?
The FDA has not released an official dosage guide for specific conditions, but many people with psoriatic arthritis report taking around 20–40 milligrams per day. Some people take higher doses during a flare-up.
Is full-spectrum CBD better for psoriasis than isolates?
Research suggests that full-spectrum CBD has more obvious health benefits than isolates. Isolates are generally better for people who have negative reactions to other cannabinoids found in full-spectrum CBD.
A Word From Verywell
Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are painful, chronic conditions that can cause stress and anxiety. CBD is an alternative treatment that may help reduce pain and inflammation and relieve anxiety related to PsA.
Talk to your doctor before trying CBD. A physician might be able to recommend specific products and dosages that can help manage your psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
CBD For Psoriasis
Perhaps you’ve read one of the many stories of cannabidiol (CBD) oil helping people with psoriasis treat their condition – and the astonishing before and after results they achieved.
And you may be thinking, can CBD really treat psoriasis?
The answer is, yes.
CBD has been helping psoriasis patients ease their symptoms and reduce flare-ups with great success.
Want to know the best CBD oil for treating psoriasis?
We’ll share our number one pick in just a minute. (Can’t wait?)
But first, why is CBD so therapeutically beneficial?
CBD is capable of treating a wide range of conditions because of the way it interacts with the endocannabinoid system.
This specialized internal system is responsible for regulating physiological processes. It’s made up of receptors found throughout the brain and body known as CB1 and CB2.
The CB1 receptors are primarily found in the nervous system and connective tissue. And the immune system, blood, and endocrine glands are where you’ll find CB2 receptors.
When cannabinoids like CBD interact with these CB1 and CB2 receptors, therapeutic effects are produced.
Cannabinoids are also naturally produced in the body.
That’s right; the human body naturally produces cannabinoids that are similar to both THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD.
In fact, research has suggested that “runners high” – which is commonly attributed to endorphins, may actually be a result of self-produced cannabinoids.
Our bodies are literally made to be compatible with and derive benefits from cannabinoids.
And when it comes to psoriasis…
CBD has been showing remarkable healing properties for a number of common autoimmune disorders – psoriasis among them.
Psoriasis is a result of T cells mistakenly identifying healthy skin cells as a threat. But research suggests that CBD may be capable of managing the activity of these T cells before they trigger a response.
Furthermore, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties regulate the immune system, and clinical data concluded that cannabis reduces psoriasis flare-ups by activating the CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
CBD may soon become the number one go-to treatment to ease the symptoms of psoriasis.
And that’s not all…
Three other cannabinoids are also revealing their potential to treat psoriasis by inhibiting overactive T cells. Keep an eye on these cannabinoids as research continues to evolve — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG).
There’s more good news, too…
CBD Treats Conditions Related to Psoriasis
While psoriasis is mainly associated with the itchy red rash it causes; unfortunately, additional associated conditions often develop too. Luckily, CBD offers therapeutic benefits that can help with many of those as well.
Consider this —
If you have psoriasis, you are at risk for developing these associated conditions too – but CBD can help:
An estimated 30% of individuals with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. Early stage symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, accompanied by swelling and warmth. Joints throughout the body, including fingers, toes, knees, hands, and feet are all susceptible to pain and swelling. The symptoms resemble those of rheumatoid arthritis, which CBD is also effective at treating. CBD reduces pain and the inflammation that causes swelling.
Surprisingly, psoriasis is linked to a number of eye conditions like conjunctivitis. With the overprescription of antibiotics for conjunctivitis a real concern, CBD is simply a better treatment option. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties promote healing and help relieve pain and itchiness.
Digestive Problems (IBS, Chron’s, Celiac, Leaky Gut Syndrome)
While more research is needed, early evidence suggests that a bacterial imbalance in the gut may help cause inflammatory diseases like psoriasis and eczema. So, it makes sense that people with psoriasis often experience digestive problems like IBS, Crohn’s, Celiac, and Leaky Gut Syndrome. The good news? CBD reduces inflammation and supports healthy digestive functions. It is a natural, safe treatment option for all these conditions.
Type 2 Diabetes
People with severe psoriasis have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. CBD has been shown to be beneficial to people with diabetes, and a clear link has been established between healthy blood sugar levels and the regular use of cannabis.
High Blood Pressure
The most severe cases of psoriasis have also been linked to high blood pressure. In research, CBD has been shown to relax vascular walls and cause a reduction in blood pressure. This discovery is fueling further research into how CBD can be used to control high blood pressure.
The risk of developing cardiovascular disease is twice as high for people with psoriasis. CBD, because of its ability to reduce inflammation and high blood pressure, is showing promise as a treatment for cardiovascular disease.
Psoriasis has been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. It is believed that chronic inflammation of neuronal tissue is the cause. For many, CBD has been effective at easing symptoms of the disease. It can reduce pain and tremors and improve sleep.
Often, shame and anxiety accompany the pain and discomfort of psoriasis. These feelings can lead to low self-esteem and depression. In addition, inflammation further contributes to the onset of depression by triggering chemical responses that influence mood. In addition to its ability to reduce inflammation, CBD has neuroprotective properties that help fight depression.
All of this means…
While it’s unfortunate that these additional conditions tend to be associated with psoriasis, it is lucky that CBD is proving to be an effective treatment for all of them.
And the best way to experience these CBD benefits?
Treat Psoriasis & Related Conditions With CBD Oil
The easiest way to treat psoriasis and related conditions is with a high-quality CBD oil.
One of the main benefits to using a high-quality CBD oil is you can choose to use it topically, take it internally, or both. This dual functionality makes CBD oil the ideal choice for many. And each method of consuming this versatile cannabinoid will offer a range of benefits.
CBD Oil Used Topically
Many skin care brands have begun to embrace the beneficial properties of CBD. Salves, balms, and lotions infused with CBD are quickly becoming established in the marketplace. And for people with psoriasis, that’s good news.
But there’s another trend happening too.
Many people are choosing to use high-quality CBD oil directly on their skin to treat small problem areas. And for larger areas, CBD mixed with a carrier oil like coconut, argan, or hemp oil is the perfect solution.
CBD Oil Taken Internally
The best way to take CBD internally is by taking it sublingually, meaning under the tongue.
Holding CBD under the tongue for a minute or two allows it to penetrate the sublingual gland and enter the bloodstream. CBD taken this way has a bioavailability of up to 35%.
And that’s important because…
Bioavailability refers to how much of the cannabinoid is available for the body to absorb.
Edibles have a lower bioavailability of around 20% (on the high end) because harsh digestive chemicals destroy cannabinoids before they reach the bloodstream.
Smoking and vaping, despite some drawbacks, provide a higher CBD bioavailability – upwards of 60%, because it is absorbed into the blood quickly through the lungs.
So, what’s the right option for you?
Our Top Pick: CBD Oil to Treat Psoriasis
We have high standards for CBD products. And when it comes to treating psoriasis with CBD, there’s one brand we recommend above all others: NuLeaf Naturals.
Why do we recommend this product?
Simple. It’s high quality.
This NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil is 100% organically grown in Colorado. The company uses top-notch extraction methods and takes extra care to preserve the delicate, beneficial terpenes.
One of the purest products on the market.
This is a whole plant or full-spectrum oil which means you’ll benefit from the synergistic nature of all the cannabis compounds present in the plant.
But here’s something you should know…
Here’s Who Shouldn’t Use This CBD Oil
Many people prefer full-spectrum oils as research suggests they may have more therapeutic benefits. If, however, you live in a state with a zero-tolerance policy for THC, this may not be the product for you.
Full-spectrum CBD oils may contain trace amounts of THC. Not enough to have psychoactive effects, but enough to cause you to fail a drug test.
Ready to get started?
How Much CBD Should You Take?
This may take a little experimentation, but the good news is, to date, no serious side effects have ever been reported from taking “too much” CBD.
That said, start slow. Try to find the lowest dose you need to get the results you want.
To find the right dose, a number of factors should be considered. These include age, weight, the severity of symptoms, and prior experience with CBD.