If you are lumbered with an annoying skin complaint that has no known cure, it’s only natural to be wary of supposed wonder products that claim to be able to solve all your problems.
And it’s true that there are many skincare products on the market that simply are too good to be true.
However, this is not necessarily the case for cannabis-based products such as CBD creams which may have some new solutions for patients with frustrating conditions, including acne and eczema.
You may be wondering why the same treatment can apparently help with two completely opposite conditions – acne is caused by the skin being too oily, while eczema occurs due to dry skin suffering from a lack of lubrication.
However, the answer lies in the endocannabinoid system, a network that controls so many vital bodily functions, and also has influence in the skin, shedding dead cells, regulating sebum production and more.
In this article, we will take a close look at three skin conditions in-depth: acne, eczema and psoriasis.
We’ll discuss what may cause these complaints, the effects they have on the body and why CBD is a potential remedy.
Acne can be an incredibly embarrassing skin condition, but it affects many more of us than you might think.
Among the 18 to 30 demographic, as much as 80 percent of people suffer from acne, a condition that manifests due to the overproduction of an oil produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands called sebum.
It’s a common misconception that the body doesn’t need sebum. In fact, in the right quantities this oil is a great protectant from the skin, making it waterproof.
Sebum also provides the skin with necessary lubrication and helps to bring dead cells up from within the skin so that they can be removed.
However, when there is an overproduction of sebum, this oil ends up clogging in the pores and blocking dirt, bacteria and other nasties from being cleaned out.
Over time, this inability to clean out the pores causes the affected part of the skin to become inflamed and even infected.
The body tries to treat an infection by redirecting white blood cells, but these just build up and die off, leaving the surface of the skin with a pimple – a teenager’s nightmare.
Acne can be a very embarrassing condition, with the sufferer often becoming very self-conscious about their appearance.
Experts have been at a complete loss to the cause of acne until recently, but studies into the endocannabinoid system have thrown up some intriguing potential links.
A disease called Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) has been suggested by a prominent cannabis researcher called Dr Ethan Russo.
He believes that some unknown conditions for which we have no cure are caused by an underproduction of endocannabinoids, which leads to a dysregulated endocannabinoid system.
Symptoms of acne include inflammation and excessive sebum production.
Since we are aware that the endocannabinoid system can reduce inflammation and regulate the sebaceous glands, it’s at least feasible that acne is caused by CECD.
Patients with acne find that they have lower-than-normal concentrations of mRNA, an endocannabinoid, in the sebocytes of their skin. Sebaceous glands are made from these sebocytes.
It’s possible for a cannabinoid such as CBD to work with sebaceous glands because they are teeming with cannabinoid receptors.
In a well-functioning endocannabinoid system, the sebaceous glands work to produce sebum and endocannabinoids, with these endocannabinoids ensuring that the sebaceous glands don’t go into overdrive and produce too much sebum by binding with cannabinoid receptors.
This is what is meant by homeostasis. But in acne patients, cannabinoid receptors do not appear to be as well expressed.
The potential of CBD was put to the test, with a CBD ointment administered to a group of participants with acne for two weeks.
The results were stunning, with every single patient reporting an improvement in their acne symptoms, and more than half finding that their skin complaint cleared completely.
That every single patient found success with CBD suggests that researchers may have identified the biological issue that causes acne.
CB2 receptors are found in abundance in follicle cells – these help to mediate sebum production. Activating CB2 receptors generally leads to a rise in sebum production.
However, CBD can stifle the CB2 receptor to prevent too much sebum from forming.
There are many ways to activate CB2 receptors in the skin, but topical administration is more effective than inhalation and oral ingestion methods because it ensures that CBD is only activating CB2 receptors in the skin.
We touched upon the skin becoming inflamed when it tries to tackle bacteria that clogs in the pores due to excess sebum.
CBD stops too many white blood cells from forming in affected areas, reducing the likelihood of pimples. The cannabinoid also boosts cellular metabolism to help cleanse the skin.
Even in 2018, eczema remains something of a mystery to dermatologists and scientists.
It is thought that the responsibility lies with either environmental factors or a snapped gene, but no one really knows for sure. Possible external influences that could worsen eczema include heat, stress and allergens.
Some people find their eczema is adversely affected by ingredients in various soaps and cleaning detergents, particularly perfumed products.
Eczema can be a life-long condition as there is no cure. However, with the right treatment, it’s possible to effectively tackle symptoms to reduce the seriousness of outbreaks.
Steering clear of pollutants and controlling stress levels will certainly help, as will identifying potential allergens. But CBD could also be very useful.
Nottingham University carried out a study that was featured in the Journal of Dermatological Science back in 2007, which researched the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids like CBD to manage eczema symptoms, albeit not cure the condition altogether.
Their investigation focussed mainly on dry, red and itchy skin, and the results were encouraging.
The findings have been backed up repeatedly, with studies into the body’s endocannabinoid system highlighting that the network may have the power to treat various conditions.
The job of the ECS is to ensure that the skin’s immune system is working competently, so that skin cells are not over or underproduced.
If the ECS falls out of balance, then control is lost over functions such as sebum production. However, CBD can help a malfunctioning ECS to get back in working order.
In relation to the skin, this means that CBD can regulate the process of the epidermis growing new cells and getting rid of old ones, helping out eczema patients a lot.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that may just be treatable with CBD.
It’s quite logical, with CBD’s anti-inflammatory and immune system-regulating effects helping out with a multitude of skin complaints.
Research has shown that CBD stifles pro-inflammatory proteins known as cytokines that are partially responsible for psoriasis.
Once again, it is the endocannabinoid system’s ability to keep the body in homeostasis which makes it such an interesting target area for any psoriasis medication.
Providing it’s in balance, the immune system and inflammation can be controlled by the endocannabinoid system, reducing the symptoms of psoriasis.
The cannabinoid receptors found in the skin can, according to a study featured in the Trends of Pharmacological Sciences in 2009, “control the proper and well-balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival, as well as immune competence and/or tolerance, of skin cells.”
While we always have to take anecdotal research with a pinch of salt in comparison to rigorous scientific studies, the stories of psoriasis patients finding their condition clear up thanks to CBD treatment cannot be ignored, especially considering the expression of cannabinoid receptors in the skin and the endocannabinoid system’s regulatory effects.
Furthermore, psoriasis causes what was thought to be an uncontrollable accumulation of skin cells on the epidermis. But CBD has shown effectiveness in counter-acting this.
The scientific research we do available consistently points to CBD being able to mediate systems in the skin that can lead to psoriatic symptoms when not operating as they should.
Skin conditions and mental health
We must also not underestimate the potential harm to mental health that acne, eczema and psoriasis can cause.
A study has found that psoriasis patients are more than 50 percent more likely to suffer from depression, due to the damaging impact that the condition has on physical appearance.
People who suffer from mental illnesses often struggle to experience a high quality of life as they become overly consumed by worries, doubts and other unhelpful emotions.
Therefore, the positive effects of CBD for patients with skin complaints can be even greater than imagined. CBD stimulates a natural mood boost by upping levels of anandamide, too.
Not sure about using CBD because it’s cannabis-based? The awesome thing about CBD is that it’s a non-psychoactive compound and has no power to induce a psychoactive high like THC can.
This is down to the interactions that these cannabinoids make in the endocannabinoid system. THC causes the high by binding with CB1 receptors in the brain. CBD does not make this link.