Doctors prescribe cannabis for treatment of chronic itching, pruritus.
Pruritus is a medical term used for itchy skin. Itchy skin isn’t normally serious but it can make you quite uncomfortable. In some cases the itching is caused by a serious medical condition. This article describes the case of a woman with chronic pruritus whose itch did not go away even after treatment with opioids and steroids. When the chronic pruritus did not improve, doctors advised that she smoke cannabis.
The woman had been dealing with a chronic itch for over a decade. Chronic pruritus refers to itching that persists for more than 6 weeks. The symptoms are often associated with a variety of diseases, for example, certain nerve disorders, hypothyroidism and eczema. The woman’s medical history revealed that her pruritus was caused by primary sclerosing cholangitis. In addition, the disease disrupts the normal production of bile in the liver and causes build up of irritating chemicals under the skin. In addition, her condition also led to a development of lichen amyloidosis which causes dark and itchy bumps on the skin.
Doctors had prescribes the patient medications to keep her sclerosing cholangitis under control. Treatment included oral corticosteroids and an opioid nasal spray. However, when treatments did not show any improvement, doctors started treatment with medical cannabis.
She was recommended to use cannabis two nights a week, either by either by smoking medical marijuana with 18% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
According to her doctors, she showed improvement within 10 minutes. They stated in the report, “within 10 minutes after the initial administration, her Worst Itch Numeric Rating Scale (WI-NRS) score improved from 10 of 10 to 4 of 10.”
On follow-up after 5 months, the woman rated her average daily itchiness as 4 out of 10. This was significant improvement from her previous rating of 10 out of 10. Moreover, her rating was even lower at her 16-month and 20-month follow-ups. She reported of no other adverse effects. THC is known to activate CB1 and CB2 receptors that decrease inflammation and effectively block its itch signal.
Treatment of Chronic Pruritus With Medical Marijuana https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/2778442