Eczema can be an incredibly frustrating condition to deal with, especially as the weather turns colder and drier and begins to leave you in a world of red, itchy, scaly discomfort. You may very well be looking everywhere for a potential treatment that isn’t the same prescription or over-the-counter antihistamine or steroid cream you’ve been taking for years.
If that’s the case, then don’t fret! Here, we’ll explain CBD’s potential as an alternative treatment due to some of its powerful health properties, how to use it, and what sort of products to buy in order to most appropriately soothe your skin.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound called a cannabinoid that is found in plants in the Cannabis family. It’s well-known for being the second most popular cannabinoid after THC, and it also has a reputation for giving users a mellow, calming sensation after use that is non-intoxicating. CBD is not habit-forming, and it is also not psychoactive — meaning it cannot get you high — though some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound that generates the high feeling of smoking marijuana.
CBD has been lauded recently for its potential as a high-impact pain reliever and as an alternative treatment for a variety of ailments. While the body of research on CBD is still pretty young (hemp production was only given the federal go-ahead in 2018), it shows great promise as a therapeutic compound.
Part of the interest in CBD’s use seems to be due to the historical precedent set for Cannabis as a medicinal and pain-relieving crop, and since high THC strains of Cannabis are still federally classified as a schedule 1 drug, CBD is the closest companies and researchers alike can come.
Another reason CBD seems to have so much untapped potential, however, is because of the relatively recent discovery of the endocannabinoid system. It’s a wide-ranging, complex system of receptors for cannabinoids and other neurotransmitters in the human body, and it seems to have a powerful influence over a wide variety of functions and features in the body. CBD and other cannabinoids interact with these receptors for the benefits of relieving pain and sometimes mitigating debilitating disorders.
What is eczema?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition affecting over 31 million Americans. Caused by an inflammatory immune response, the condition can cause sufferers to erupt into patches of itchy, dry, or inflamed skin in response to allergens. It can cause a great deal of discomfort, and may even leave sufferers vulnerable to infections in the wound as the inflamed skin opens.
There is no clear reason for the development of eczema other than the fact that it seems to be primarily driven by large reactions to small stressors in the immune system. There is currently no cure. However, a variety of treatment options exist to help manage flare-ups, including steroid creams and soothing anti-itch medications.
Can CBD treat eczema?
The bad news is that currently there is little to no clinical research on the role of CBD in potentially treating eczema; clinical dermatology research on the compound lags far behind the myriad of studies on CBD and epilepsy, or CBD and certain forms of mental illness.
The good news, however, is that we can piece a few things together about the mechanisms that cause CBD to work so well and the mechanisms that trigger eczema, and make some educated guesses about the effect the drug would have.
CBD is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent and is also purported to have anti-itch properties. This is great for eczema, which is a condition characterized primarily by inflammation of the skin. Additionally, further research on the endocannabinoid system’s interactions with immune responses demonstrates that CBD could potentially inhibit histamines, the compound released during an allergic or inflammatory reaction that causes the unpleasant symptoms of itchiness and redness. CBD is also theorized to be something of a powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial, which means that it can help eczema sufferers to avoid the secondary infections that may occur once their wounds open.
However helpful CBD products may be in the hypothetical, though, there is the unfortunate fact that many CBD products are poorly labeled, and may be filled with additives that could counteract CBD’s soothing effect, or even worsen your eczema. For this reason, it’s important to seek out CBD products from high-quality sellers. Otherwise, you risk introducing irritants to your skin and causing an unwanted flare-up when attempting to treat your flare-ups in the first place.
How can I use CBD for eczema?
While for most purposes it’s suggested that CBD users ingest CBD sublingually (under the tongue) or inhale it for the highest bioavailability and quickest absorption, in the instance of addressing an issue of pain in the skin, it’s probably best to use a topical moisturizer or CBD cream for eczema to target just your skin, where the inflammation is localized. Not only will relief be quicker this way, it may also be more effective at relieving pain than if you were waiting for your body to metabolize a softgel or gummy and then disperse the full-body relief to your skin. While it’s possible to use CBD oil for eczema, it will likely be messier, and may be more likely to contain skin irritants since CBD oils are generally formulated for oral consumption, not for topical use.
Additionally, you might want to consider using a broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD topical ointment or cream. Both broad spectrum and full spectrum products have a large variety of other compounds found in hemp that can help amplify the soothing effects of CBD, and full spectrum products contain THC, which can also very much boost the power of CBD. This is due to something called “the Entourage Effect,” a phenomenon where different cannabinoids very much work better when taken together.
Again, make sure you purchase your CBD from a trustworthy source, as absorbing heavy metals or other irritants through the skin could be quite detrimental for adults who have eczema. CBD Facilitator offers a full spectrum CBD cream from FABCBD that can be used to help with all sorts of skin and muscle pains.
Unfortunately, most of the assumptions to be made about CBD’s efficacy in alleviating the symptoms of eczema are just that — assumptions. The lack of scientific study on the matter means that all sufferers of eczema will have to go on is hypotheticals until they try it themselves. However, many anecdotes can attest to the powerful soothing effects of CBD topical ointments, regardless of any studies that might be able to back that up.