By: Elements of Green
Psoriasis is a disease of the immune system. An overactive immune system causes skin cells to grow too quickly. The excess skin cells pile up on the body rather than being shed, the way it is in people without psoriasis. Psoriasis can cause itching, burning, and stinging sensations and the disease often has a visible component comprised of redness, plaques, and scales. One third of psoriasis sufferers also develop psoriatic arthritis, which comes with even more severe symptoms.
Psoriasis is not contagious, but it appears as blotchy, reddened skin and what appear to be scales. The unhealthy appearance of a psoriasis outbreak can make sufferers feel self-conscious, harming emotional health.
Psoriasis has no known cause and no known cure. There are several triggers which can cause an outbreak, such as stress, injuries, or even the weather.
Treatment for psoriasis focuses on symptom management. Current treatments can include steroids, over the counter topical treatments such as skin cream, light therapy, and a variety of prescription drugs which bolster the immune system.
Elements of Green spoke to Jassem Ahmad, a psoriasis sufferer and activist about how he uses CBD as part of his treatment plan.
Jass, can you tell us a bit about yourself and psoriasis?
My name is Jassem Ahmad but everyone calls me Jass. I first had psoriasis symptoms 11 years ago, when I was 19. Psoriasis is more than skin deep; it is not just a skin condition. It’s an immune disease. Psoriasis is difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat correctly. For me, one of the main triggers is when I get a cut or injury. It does not take much. Something as simple as a scratchy waistband can bring it on. That causes the Koebner phenomenon, where my lesions occur along the wound.
Some of the treatments for psoriasis can be as bad as the disease. It all depends on the individual. What works for one person might not work for another. In my case, I was initially diagnosed incorrectly and received improper treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment did not get any better after the diagnosis, even though I tried several doctors. I was given steroids which were toxic to me and caused my adrenal gland to shut down. Doctors gave me cortisone tablets. They even managed to mismanage a light therapy called UVB Phototherapy. I suffered from sunburn and burnt eyes from that.
The overall results were weight gain, lethargy, depression, and more, and my psoriasis did not improve. My lifestyle did not help matters.
For me, the keys to managing my psoriasis involved lifestyle changes. I learned to eat better, to relax and relives stress, I work out, drink lots of green tea, and I take CBD every day. I also finally found the right doctor, who prescribed a non-steroidal biologic which has helped a lot.
What was the big event which help you begin to manage psoriasis better? What would you suggest to others with psoriasis?
Try to relax, once you accept this is the condition and learn to live it, things become easier.
So for me, the mental state is the most important thing; go to the gym, drink green tea, try CBD…
Understanding the link of the mental state and psoriasis and how they relate can be a huge part of fighting the disease. When you are stressed, you get psoriasis, and when you have psoriasis you get more stressed. Interrupting that cycle is key for me and many other people with psoriasis.
There is an entire medical speciality called psychodermatology which focuses on the link between mental health and skin conditions such as psoriasis and we’re learning so much about the interconnection between the mind and the body that we did not know just a few years ago. Stress is one of the triggers for psoriasis, so doing everything you can to relieve stress is incredibly important.
How did you first learn about CBD?
I started with medical cannabis. I researched some of the positives, and the research led to discovering CBD from the point of view of my personal health. I also didn’t much like the sensation of getting high. Relaxation and the anti-inflammatory benefits of the hemp plant both come from CBD without the high of medical cannabis.
What types of CBD products have you tried in the past?
I started by vaping CBD concentrate. Back then, it was very difficult to find reputable products, and the ones I tried were just OK. Then I went to smoking CBD flower hoping the effect would be better, but smoking isn’t good for psoriasis patients. I tried some CBD creams from a big retailer, and they didn’t do much for me. So then I took a break from CBD for a bit.
More recently, Elements of Green reached out to me. I was attracted to the fact that they insisted on lab testing for all of the products you carry, so I recommended some products I’d like to try. The one which works best for me right now is the Janus Organics CBD oil. It calms me down and helps me get ready for the day. I also use a CBD cream which helps with inflammation when my regular meds aren’t available, but the main help CBD gives me is the calm it helps me achieve. In fact, it’s worked so well for me that I recommended CBD to my girlfriend. She does not have psoriasis, but she does have anxiety and CBD helps her with that.
The flavor and texture of the Janus Organic oil is important to me. The best medication is the one you take, so it’s worth it to experiment with a few products until you find one that agrees with you. It is also valuable to give some of these oils a little while. Sometimes they take a little while to start working, and it also takes a few days to get used to the flavors, the textures, and even the experience of putting drops under your tongue.
I’ve got some new products from Elements of Green and I’m eager to try those, too. I’ll be sharing my experiences with some of these products as I try them. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel to follow along.
How would you rank CBD’s effectiveness?
I use CBD daily. As I mentioned, for me the main benefit of CBD is with my anxiety and stress levels, which can aggravate or even cause a psoriasis breakout when my stress goes too high. When I can’t sleep or when I am starting to go through a flare up, it has been quite effective. The cream I use works well and I see the benefits the next day. So for me, CBD works in two ways. It directly helps the symptoms and it reduces the stress which psoriasis causes. I think that is common to a lot of psoriasis sufferers who use CBD.
What do you like about Elements of Green?
The professionalism of the Company is first. I also like that there is a wide selection of different products. Having the products sourced properly and tested for safety is very important to me.
Would you recommend CBD to others who are dealing with skin irritation issues?
Yes. CBD is by no means a cure for psoriasis. However, it can make living with psoriasis easier, which is important because there is no cure. Dealing with psoriasis means learning about accepting it and living with it. Like any treatment for psoriasis symptoms, CBD will work for some people and not for others, so I encourage trying it for a bit. CBD has no side effects at the amounts most people take, so it is safe to give it a try. As I mentioned, some of the doctor-recommended treatments can be very harmful if not done right. However, the interaction between CBD and prescribed medications is not well understood, so if you are taking a medication, talk to your doctor before trying CBD.
Can you tell us about some of the programs and charities you work with?
I do a lot of outreach and education work. Right now, I am working with Leo Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company making a big push for medications to treat psoriasis and other skin conditions. Their outreach program is called Head’s Up to Psoriasis and I did a video for them.
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I’m also partnered with plaquepsoriasis.com, which has a lot of resources for psoriasis patients. Health Union is the company which created plaquepsoriasis.com, and the people there create wonderful communities for a variety of conditions to allow people to come together and share their stories. I’m also with a charity called Changing Faces, a wonderful UK organization dealing with people with all kinds of visible differences. I’ll soon be a “human book” on The Human Library, a non-profit which seeks to dispel stereotypes of all kinds.
I recently spoke to Men’s Health about coping with psoriasis, and I shared some introductory notes for a recent Ted-X event.
What is the best way to reach you if people would like to get in touch?
I have an active Instagram account and a Youtube channel where I share a lot about my life, including my battle against psoriasis. For getting in touch with me, Instagram is best. If someone is suffering from psoriasis, I hope my sharing helps them during their journey. There really is a way to live and thrive with this disease. For those who do not have psoriasis, I hope they learn about it.