Mental illness is not a personal failure. This statement can be bold, but in a world dominated by emotional stress, it helps to understand that you are not the only one struggling. Whether it’s work, home life, family or neighbors listening to music until the early hours of the morning, it’s difficult to avoid stress. Under normal circumstances, stress is a necessary and healthy part of life that helps us stay focused and alert. However, it is when stress becomes uncontrollable that physically and mentally debilitating conditions begin to manifest. In this article, we will take a look at how researchers think CBD may have an impact on stress-related eczema, one of the physical manifestations of stress-related illness.
In most cases, the biggest obstacle to dealing with any stress-affected condition is talking about it! Whether it’s a doctor, a psychologist or a friend, discussing how we feel is vital.
Dealing with stress is not always a simple solution, especially when it starts to affect both our mind and our body. Fortunately, a 2001 report from the World Health Organization outlined how different psychological conditions can be easily managed, treated or avoided with simple drugs and community-based health programs. Although treatment may seem simple, the challenge for healthcare organizations is that stress cases are not all the same.
Understanding stress and its causes
There is no single approach to managing all types of stress or triggers. Some people may be stressed by an increased workload, while others may not. The source of stress varies from person to person. An essential consideration is to be honest with yourself and talk openly about what or who is causing stress.
It may be that removing the source of stress is all it takes to get back on track. If you don’t succeed, the potential steps to manage stress include regular exercise, relaxation techniques (reading, yoga, medical care), spending time with family and friends or enjoying hobbies. Again, effective strategies will vary from person to person. Often, the best approach is to be proactive in managing stress rather than waiting for it to develop to such an extent that it spills over into a series of mental or physical symptoms.
The relationship between stress and eczema
We talked a lot about stress, but actually what does emotional stress do to the body? Psychologically, prolonged or untreated stress can lead to anxiety, depression and lack of motivation – to name a few symptoms. Physically, stress can manifest itself as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension and skin diseases such as that in the title of this article – eczema.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is generally caused by an overactive immune system. In response to an internal or external agent, our immune system can trigger excessive inflammation. As a result, red, pruritic and painful spots appear on the skin that usually appear on the face, elbows, knees, hands, feet and ankles. Unfortunately, we do not yet know what causes our immune system to behave in this way and this makes it impossible to cure eczema – for the moment.
However, what we can do is manage or reduce the agents that cause an overload of our immune system. Dry skin, irritating products such as shampoo, metals, cigarette smoke and food allergens are all linked to the onset of eczema. As long as you are able to identify the correct causative agent, removing one or all of these elements is not too demanding. However, you are probably wondering what role stress in eczema plays.
Although research is limited, there is evidence to suggest that emotional stress also acts as a trigger for inflammation of eczema. In a detailed examination conducted by several important universities it was established that “psychological stress significantly contributes to atopic dermatitis through its direct and indirect effects on the immune response”. The researchers went on to say that more scientific research was needed to establish “neurocutaneous interactions” —in poor words, the interactions taking place between different genes.
What do academics suggest about CBD as part of eczema treatment?
The fact that we are slowly learning the mechanism behind eczema is undoubtedly fantastic news. But for the millions of people living with this disease, what options do they have if the triggers we outlined above are unknown or unavoidable?
The truce may present itself in the form of a cannabinoid derived from hemp: the CBD — at least according to a study published in La Clinica Terapeutica . The objective of the study was to study the effect of CBD based ointment on serious skin diseases.
A total of twenty patients (five with atopic dermatitis) were asked to apply a topical CBD ointment in the affected areas twice a day for three months. Using skin assessment data, clinical questionnaires and photographic evidence, “the results showed that topical ointment treatment enriched with CBD significantly improved skin parameters.” The study continued by adding that “no irritating or allergic reactions were documented during the treatment period”.
There is still a lot to learn about the mechanism behind eczema, as well as links to stress. While we await further studies on the impact of CBD on eczema, the first results seem favorable — a result that will no doubt appeal to millions of people living with eczema.