The benefits hemp-derived cannabinoids have on skin are not as widely discussed or well known as their many other benefits. Daily, new research is being conducted on the effects of cannabinoids on acne. Acne is a hormonal disorder and therefore should be treated by a dermatologist. However, CBD-based products may also act as a remedy. Though they are mainly administered orally, cannabinoids can also work when applied topically.

Acne and Cannabinoids

To understand the effects of cannabinoids on acne, we need to first understand its cause. The human skin is the largest organ in the body. Every part of it is richly supplied with sebaceous glands. A particular type of these glands is also found in the hair follicles. Sebaceous glands secrete sebum, an oily substance that lubricates the skin. Sebum is composed primarily of glycerides.

The production of sebum depends on a number of factors – including skin type, age, diet, climate, hygiene, and hormonal balance. Hormonal balance is the most important factor to be considered. Of course, acne cannot be cured unless the hormones are fixed. Acne is formed when sebum is produced in excess and then blocks the pores.

Recent research has shown that endocannabinoid receptors are present are in sebaceous glands and hair follicles. The main function of sebaceous glands is to regulate the function of many parts of the body. This function is, however, dependent on the endocannabinoids produced by the body. Discovering that endocannabinoids play an effective role in the production of sebum and is regulated by the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has made it possible to evaluate the potential use of cannabinoids in the treatment of acne.

One of the most well-known cannabinoids is cannabidiol (CBD). Aside from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is the most abundant cannabinoid present in the industrial hemp plant and has a myriad of medicinal and pro-health properties. CBD, unlike THC, is non-psychoactive. This is one of the reasons why it and the many other non-psychoactive cannabinoids are becoming increasingly attractive to medical researchers. These cannabinoids have the potential to treat and prevent many diseases and conditions without the “high effect” that marijuana is known for.

Research on CBD to Treat Acne

Research carried out by a team in Hungary has examined the effects of CBD on the cell lines of sebaceous glands in humans. It has been discovered that anandamide, a major endocannabinoid, excites lipid synthesis (sebum production) by stimulating the CB2 receptor in the gland. It should be noted that CBD does not have any direct effect on CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it inhibits anandamide activity. It was found out that CBD effectively inhibited the production of sebum.

CBD also has anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers have pointed out very clearly that acne is just an inflammation of the sebaceous gland. Hence, CBD works in two ways – either by inhibiting too much production of sebum or combating inflammation in cases where acne had already shown. CBD has no effect on the synthesis of lipids in other cells, and it can be absorbed by the skin (meaning that it can be applied topically). Its efficacy is greater, compared to that of vitamin A.

Many studies have confirmed the role of the ECS in the production of sebum, lending credence to the fact that CBD in high doses may stimulate apoptosis of cells forming sebaceous glands. The indirect impact of hemp ingredients should also be taken into consideration. Stress is one of the causative factors of acne, and CBD exhibits calming effects on stress.

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Biro et al. Cannabinoid exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes.

Biro et al. The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: perspectives and novel therapeutic opportunities.

Gardener: Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Acne?

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