Case Report: Sustained Treatment of Chronic Pruritus Treated with Medical Cannabis

Baltimore, MD: The use of cannabis is associated with marked improvements in a patient with chronic, treatment-resistant pruritus, according to data published in JAMA Dermatology.

A team of investigators with John Hopkins University in Baltimore reported on the use of cannabis by a woman in her 60s with a 10-year history of pruritus. The subject was unresponsive to multiple anti-pruritic therapies, including topical corticosteroids. 

Following the use of either botanical cannabis and/or cannabis tinctures, the patient’s symptoms improved significantly. The patient experienced sustained improvements associated with cannabis over a 20-month period, with her Dermatology Life Quality Index Score falling from 17 to 1 over that period of time. The subject also reported ceasing her intake of other anti-prurtic medications. Minimal adverse effects were reported.

Researchers reported: “This case report highlights that medical marijuana is a potential treatment for chronic pruritus, which is especially relevant as a growing number of states pass legislation allowing public medical marijuana programs. These findings are promising, but randomized clinical trials are needed to confirm the results.”

Other small observational studies have similarly shown that cannabinoids possess anti-pruritic effects, as well as the potential to address acne, epidermolysis bullosa, other serious skin conditions

Full text of the study, “Treatment of chronic pruritus with medical marijuana,” appears in JAMA Dermatology. Additional information about cannabinoids and pruritus is available from NORML.