But more often than not, it seems that these wonder treatments just don’t work. It’s easy to think the same about cannabis products – after all, how can a plant that’s used for “getting high” help keep the skin fresh, clean and glowing?
What makes cannabis different is that the compounds, or cannabinoids, from the plant, react perfectly with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is present in all of our bodies. The ECS was lost to history until the 1990s, but as cannabis use was rife in the ancient world, it’s clear that people back then had knowledge, if not scientific, of how they could benefit from the herb.
When cannabinoids are applied to the skin, the effects are much different from when cannabis is smoked, vaped, or orally-consumed in any way. The skin is rich in cannabinoid receptors which respond to both CBD and THC. CBD creams and similar products only affect the part of the body where they are applied. This gives the user complete control over how they want to receive the benefits of these compounds.
CBD products are natural, with the extracts taken directly from cannabis and hemp plants – supercritical CO2 extraction is preferable, as these products are free from the toxins and heavy metals picked up by the plant during growth. There are several types of infused products for the skin, including creams, balms, massage gels, salves and even lipsticks.
Now you know a little bit more about why CBD has the potential to be an effective tool for skincare, let’s look at how the compound can keep you looking younger, and manage skin complaints which adversely impact both the quality of the skin and mental health.
You’re never too young to start protecting your skin from the effects of aging. Unfortunately, while it’s almost impossible to stop intrinsic aging, which gradually reduces the production of elastin and collagen year-on-year, we can manage the more detrimental effects of extrinsic aging. And the ECS may just be an essential for maintaining youthfulness, with research showing that the vast majority of skin cells in the top layer of the skin, the epidermis, are regulated by the ECS.
Almost impossible to stop intrinsic aging… That was the narrative until 2012, when a study on mice showed that the group with CB1 receptors aged more slowly than the group without them, thanks to a slower deterioration of skin elasticity. Research in this area is limited, but perhaps nurturing this receptor is key to slowing intrinsic aging? Time will tell.
CBD also boasts antioxidant properties – antioxidants help to prevent a build-up of oxidative stress in the brain, but also to stop the deterioration of skin cell DNA by blocking a process called “free radical aging”. Free radicals are pesky uncharged molecules that are present in tobacco smoke, environmental pollutants and even ultraviolet rays from the sun. Left unchecked, these free radicals will rapidly speed up wrinkling. However, a regular coating of antioxidant-rich CBD creams helps to reduce the effects of this extrinsic aging.
Research shows that both acne and psoriasis can be controlled with CBD, as the cannabinoid treats the immune system dysfunction which is responsible for both. The benefits of CBD in this area are not just physical, as studies have found that patients with these skin complaints are more likely to have mental health problems than those who do not.
A paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology highlighted the therapeutic properties of CBD, and another non-intoxicating cannabinoid called cannabigerol (CBG). The researchers discovered that CBD regulates the proliferation and differentiation of skin cells, increasing hopes that CBD could be a remedy for allergic reactions.
By regulating the body’s immune system, CBD can help stop the over-production of skin cells that causes silvery plaques to form on the skin, as well as itchiness and soreness. Resetting the skin cell life cycle to its natural state prevents this accumulation of skin cells on the epidermis.
Even acne appears to be treatable with CBD, as the sebaceous glands which create the oil, called sebum, contain cannabinoid receptors. Acne is another skin condition that has a negative effect on mental health, as the increase in oil can cause infections, zits and blemishes. Younger people are affected worse by acne than older age groups, due to hormonal changes. Sebum is necessary to some extent, as it works to protect the skin from bacteria, but too much and it ultimately becomes counter-productive.
However, by regulating immune system response (increased sebum production is a form of inflammation), CBD helps to calm down the sebaceous glands, and reduce sebum production to beneficial levels.
Many CBD oil products also contain high quantities of omega-3 and omega-6, essential fatty acids that many Americans simply do not get enough of. These fatty acids improve the condition of the hair and the skin, leaving the epidermis looking vibrant and healthy.
We touched earlier on the qualities of antioxidants, and CBD oil consists of other ingredients that offer protection from free radicals and skin deterioration, such as vitamin E. Finding a CBD oil with vitamin A may also be a good idea, as it helps to regulate sebum production and boost skin cell production.
The beauty and cosmetic industries are just getting started with CBD and other cannabis-based products, and as research unlocks more endocannabinoid system secrets, the range of products available will surely expand further. With 113 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant to study, new cannabinoid combinations are a near-certainty going forward.
You may be wondering why it’s so easy to access CBD, since not all states have legalized cannabis. CBD products are not restricted, as they cannot get you high – those effects come from THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid.