CBD for the Skin: Scientific Studies - Cannactiva

Scientific studies on CBD for the skin

CBD for the Skin: Effects and benefits

In this post we show you an extensive review of scientific studies on CBD for the skin and you will discover the potential of this groundbreaking cosmetic ingredient that you can already find in CBD creams, CBD serums, and all kinds of cosmetics and other dermatological preparations that incorporate it.

We remind you that this is an informative article that seeks to bring the current information available in scientific studies to the general public. It is not intended to treat or prevent any disease. Consult your medical specialist before using CBD.

What is CBD and how does it affect the skin?

CBD or cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound obtained from the hemp plant(Cannabis sativa). Its effects on the human body are focused on the activation of the activation of the endocannabinoid system which has effects on the beauty and health of the skin.

Current scientific evidence supports the topical use of CBD for skin disorders, primarily eczema, psoriasis, itching and inflammatory conditions such as dermatitis. CBD is also used to complement or enhance the effect of cosmetics.

See cosmetics with CBD

The endocannabinoid system of the skin

The world of cosmetics and medicine has already realized the importance of the endocannabinoid system for the beauty and health of the skin.

For those who are not yet familiar with this term, the endocannabinoid system is a chemical signaling network that is distributed throughout the body. The functioning of this cellular communication system is complex and still generates many unknowns, but it is known that it plays a fundamental role in the natural balance or homeostasis of tissues, including the skin.

The most researched functions of the endocannabinoid system are its effects on the nervous system and immune cells. Therefore, to a greater or lesser extent, the possible applications of this compound for chronic pain, fibromyalgia or insomnia have been brought to the attention of the general public.

However, it is less well known that recent research indicates that the endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in skin homeostasis and that its imbalance is related to skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, pruritus, acne, hair growth, alopecia and hyper- or hypopigmentation.

Skin endocannabinoid system
Schematic of the endocannabinoid system of the skin. Adapted from: Baswan, Sudhir M et al.

What skin cells do cannabinoids act on?

Cannabinoids act on different structures of the skin:

  • Keratinocytes, which are the predominant cells of the skin.
  • Fibroblasts, fibers that give elasticity to the skin.
  • Cutaneous nerve fibers, which give sensitivity to the tissue.
  • Melanocytes, melanin-synthesizing skin cells responsible for pigmentation.
  • Hair follicle, involved in hair growth.
  • Sweat glands, responsible for maintaining skin moisture.

More specifically, endocannabinoids are present in keratinocytes and fibroblasts (skin fibers), and exert modulatory effects on these cells. CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors are present in keratinocytes, cutaneous nerve fibers, melanocytes, sweat glands and hair follicles.

Endocannabinoids are involved in neuroprotection, analgesia and skin inflammation.

Effects of CBD or cannabidiol for skin conditions

Topical cannabinoid treatment, such as CBD creams and CBD oils, can be an effective remedy for certain dermatological conditions and as a cosmetic agent:

Benefits of CBD cannabidiol for the skin
Potential benefits of CBD for the skin. CBD is a recognized cosmetic agent. Adapted from: Baswan, Sudhir M et al. “Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for health and skin disorders.”

CBD strengthens the skin barrier

CBD protects the skin from premature aging by stimulating its natural barrier function, keeping it younger, better cared for and hydrated.

The main cause of premature skin aging is the deterioration of keratinocytes, the major cells of the epidermis. Keratinocytes are sensitive to oxidative stress caused by different environmental factors such as sun exposure, pollution, dryness or cold.

The keratinocytes in our skin have their own mechanisms to defend themselves against these oxidative agents, mainly through the release of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances.

In in vitro studies, CBD in topical use has been shown to be able to penetrate skin cells and stimulate the natural defense systems of keratinocytes.

CBD also protects the integrity of the cell membrane, reducing the oxidation of the polyunsaturated fatty acids that make up the membrane. Translated, CBD prevents premature aging of the skin.

Another mechanism by which CBD acts on the skin is to activate in fibroblasts all those factors related to cell protection, stimulating the production of substances with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-apoptotic properties(source).

All this makes CBD a promising cosmetic and dermatological ingredient for all skin conditions involving inflammation and keratin disorders, such as atopic dermatitis or eczema.

Body oil with CBD Grapefruit. Apply topically with circular massages on the skin.

Also try our serum with CBD and Hyaluronic Acid with specific ingredients for facial care.

CBD for atopic dermatitis or eczema

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder of multifactorial cause whose treatment focuses on the use of topical anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids. Cannabinoids, due to their anti-inflammatory properties, are proposed as a therapy to modulate the inflammatory response of the skin.

Endocannabinoid-derived creams are already used for the treatment of mild atopic dermatitis, such as Adelmidrol, derived from PEA (palmitoylethanolamide, an endocannabinoid).

With respect to phytocannabinoids, there is some scientific evidence on the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD in topical use in experimental models of dermatitis, but clinical studies validating its efficacy are lacking.

A small clinical study found that CBD relieved itching and sleep loss associated with atopic dermatitis.

CBD in pain relief creams

One of the fields in which CBD is more widespread is in the world of massage creams for pain, whether rheumatic or traumatic.

The injured tissue produces an inflammatory response in the affected area, necessary for healing, resulting in swelling, irritation and increased sensitivity in the area. However, when this inflammatory state becomes chronic, it can lead to neuropathies, injuries and chronic pain, which diminishes the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

Current pain therapies focus on the central and peripheral nervous system, based on antidepressants, NSAIDs and anticonvulsants. The problem with this therapeutic approach is that it exposes the chronic patient to the possible side effects of the drugs(source, source).

Treatment with topical cannabinoids has been shown to reduce peripheral inflammation, without the side effects of analgesic medications. A clinical study on topically applied CBD for the treatment of pain shows its promising properties in this field.

It is worth mentioning that for these applications the compound is also studied orally. In this area, preclinical studies clearly indicate that taking cannabinoids reduces neuropathic and inflammatory pain, and a moderate level of clinical evidence supports their use for chronic pain.

CBD and its ability to sebum-regulate the skin

The endocannabinoid system of the skin is crucial to keep the skin in balance and control sebum production (lipogenesis). Under normal conditions, the sebaceous glands of the skin are stimulated by the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA). This same endocannabinoid is the one that slows down the production of sebum in the skin when it accumulates.

Several in vitro studies indicate that CBD in topical use could be an effective therapy in the treatment of acne by acting on pathways related to sebum production, sebaceous gland proliferation and inflammation.

CBD for acne

In the field of CBD for acne, a study on the effects of CBD and its influence on sebaceous study on the effects of CBD and its influence on the sebaceous glands . The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD decrease the substances that cause it and, in addition, researchers believe that the effect of CBD is not limited to direct interaction with oil production in the sebaceous glands, but could be more complex, being able to reverse a state of skin oil imbalance.

CBD for itching or pruritus

The endocannabinoid system is involved in the appearance and evolution of skin itching or pruritus. Cannabinoids act on the complex skin communication between keratinocytes, immune cells (mast cells) and sensory nerves that give rise to the sensation of itching. Now, scientific studies show that the administration of phytocannabinoids has antipruritic effects.

These findings evidence the potential of broad-spectrum CBD to reduce skin itching and inflammation , we may soon see new products with CBD in sunscreens, itch creams and shaving gels.

However, the mechanisms by which these compounds act are complex, and more research is needed. For example, interestingly, and according to early animal studies, it appears that CBD would be more effective in treating itching of the lower body than itching of the face or scalp.

CBD in wound healing

Healing is a complex skin process that occurs in three phases: inflammation, proliferation and maturation or remodeling of the tissue.

The endocannabinoid system of the skin modulates the healing process by intervening on tissue growth processes, fibroblast functions and regulating skin inflammation.

CBD as a skin healer is a little studied remedy yet. One report describes that three patients suffering from epidermolysis bullosa (a rare skin disorder characterized by pain and blistering) had faster healing, less blistering and improved pain with topical use of cannabidiol.

Another in vitro study notes that CBD in topical use had effects on inflammation and skin remodeling, with the full-spectrum extract being more effective than just isolated or pure CBD. This could be because complete cannabinoid extract (CBD Full Spectrum) contains other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes, which would exert a greater synergistic anti-inflammatory effect than isolated CBD.

CBD for psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease characterized by the appearance of red, scaly, itchy plaques on the skin, most commonly appearing on the knees, elbows, trunk and scalp.

These psoriatic plaques are caused by hyperproliferation of keratinocytes and chronic inflammation of the skin. Dysregulation of Th1 and Th17 skin immune cells also appears.

In that sense, CBD has been proposed as a treatment for psoriasis for its anti-inflammatory, antipruritic, pain relieving and immune reaction properties.

A study shows how CBD has the ability to curb the inflammation triggers that exist in skin psoriasis.

CBD may also interfere with other skin processes, such as anti-proliferative effects on keratinocytes, stimulate the removal of damaged skin cells and affect skin maturation and healing processes.

However, one research group found possible proliferative effects of CBD on keratins, and that more robust and contrasted experimentation is needed to determine the use of CBD in psoriatic lesions.

The interactions between phytocannabinoids and the various systems of the organism are complex and leave many questions unresolved. All researchers agree on the prudent use of this component, which, although well tolerated, still needs to be further studied to determine the mechanisms by which it has an effect. Therefore, before using CBD for skin conditions such as psoriasis, we recommend professional consultation and supervision.

Discover the effect of CBD on your skin

In short, CBD is an exceptional cosmetic ingredient, capable of influencing the endocannabinoid system and tissue homeostasis.

We are convinced of the potential of CBD and its properties for the skin. This component, which has already attracted the dermo-cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors, is sure to be even more talked about in the future.

If you want, you can share your experience with CBD in our social networks or in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Laura Salas
R&D Cannactiva | Cannabis Cosmetologist. Expert in cannabis and natural cosmetics with CBD

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