She could not cease her physique from itching for 10 years. So researchers experimented with hashish

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Woman in her sixties examined by the Johns Hopkins team who found many hyperpigmented, raised skin lesions on arms, legs and abdomen.

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Angela Stelmakowich Although she tried several treatments, she was not relieved.  /. Although she tried several treatments, she was not relieved. /. Photo by Voyagerix / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Sometimes an itch is just an itch that is relieved by a quick scratch. But if the itching is chronic, relentless, and capable of affecting the quality of life, something more is needed. Johns Hopkins investigators believe something could be cannabis.

Researchers cite a case study of an African American woman in her sixties who had a 10-year history of chronic pruritus, known clinically as chronic pruritus. This came from a statement this week from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The woman presented at the Johns Hopkins Itch Center with complaints of extreme itching on her arms, legs and stomach. Doctors found numerous hyperpigmented, raised skin lesions.

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“To the best of our knowledge, there is currently a lack of anti-itch therapies approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, treatment can be difficult and relies on off-label therapeutics,” said a study summary published last month JAMA Dermatology.

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Though she had tried various treatments – including systemic therapies, central acting nasal sprays, steroid creams, and phototherapy – none of them were any relief.

Dr. Shawn Kwatra notes the difficulty of treating chronic pruritus and shares “our knowledge of the role of the endocannabinoid system in chronic pruritus”.

Dr. Kwatra, assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, says the woman experienced almost instant improvement after smoking or ingesting a liquid form of medical marijuana.

On a scale of 0 to 10, the woman herself reported that the itching when she entered was a 10 and had dropped to 4 “within 10 minutes of first administering the medical marijuana,” reports Dr. Kwatra. “With the continued use of cannabis, the patient’s itchiness disappeared completely,” he says.

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The thought is that THC binds to brain receptors that affect the nervous system.  /. The thought is that THC binds to brain receptors that affect the nervous system. /. Photo by Jim Mone /.Canadian press

The thought is that THC binds to brain receptors that affect the nervous system, explains Dr. Kwatra. “When this occurs, inflammation and nervous system activity decrease, which can also lead to a reduction in skin sensations such as itching,” he notes.

The use of medicinal cannabis proved successful for the woman and the hope is that others might experience similar relief. However, this requires clinical studies, which, according to Dr. Kwatra is justified.

“Controlled studies are needed to determine the dosage, effectiveness and safety of medical marijuana in treating various human pruritus subtypes,” he notes. “Once these are done, we will have a better understanding of which patients are most likely to benefit from this therapy.”

A report last year examining the use of cannabinoids for chronic itching said, “The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in skin homeostasis, in addition to having broader effects on neurogenic responses such as pruritus and nociception, inflammation and immune reactions. “

Although human studies are limited, they “have consistently shown significant reductions in both scratching and chronic itching symptoms,” the study authors write, adding that controlled studies are warranted “to explore the benefits of cannabinoids for treatment of itching to confirm and standardize treatment regimens and indications. “

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