Acne is the bane of many a teenagers life, but even those of us for whom the teenage years are only a fond memory aren’t immune to the odd breakout.
Skin problems make us turn to tonics and chemical cocktails in an attempt to eradicate the dreaded blackhead, whitehead, or spot. These synthetic solutions more often than not either don’t work or, worse, irritate the skin even further.
This void in curative anti-acne agents has led researchers to investigate the potential of a tiny plant molecule with an enormous reputation.
What Is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
Cannabidiol or CBD as it is more commonly known as is a cannabinoid (compound) from the cannabis plant best known for its anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and antiseizure effects.
Unlike its cousin THC, cannabidiol does not invoke a psychotropic effect and as such, those who dislike the euphoric ‘high’ feeling typically associated with cannabis will be glad to know it does not exist with CBD oil, regardless of the quantity taken.
Rather, this wonderous compound has been shown to have a plethora of potential medicinal benefits, all because it interacts with a very influential, yet quite unknown system only discovered 30 years ago.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex molecular signalling system present in all mammals, responsible for a host of functions including mood, memory, appetite, pain, and more. All of which contribute to homeostasis (balance of health).
The body creates neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids which send messages to receptors located throughout the body in order to perform an action.
An example of this is after exercise when the endocannabinoid ‘anandamide’ is released, it then interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain resulting in the familiar ‘runners high’. Shortly after, enzymes break down this molecule relinquishing this bliss.
Incredibly, phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant mimic the activity of endocannabinoids precisely, like a substitute coming off the bench to replace a player.
Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) have been linked with a host of medicinal benefits and it may be the solution for millions of people in the UK who suffer from skin problems such as acne.
Causes of Acne
To keep the skin lubricated and protect it from drying out, an oily substance called sebum is secreted from sebaceous glands located underneath the skin, it then travels up hair follicles and appears on the outer skin via the pores.
Hair follicles routinely shed dead skin which sebum carries out of the body. When too many skin cells are shed and excess sebum is released, the pores can become clogged. This results in a build-up of excess bacteria which flourish in the pores resulting in inflammation and spots.
- Pores clogged by dead skin
- Excess sebum produced
- Excess Bacteria
- Excess hormones
Pores Clogged by Dead Skin
When too many dead skin cells are released at once it can cause a build-up where the cells and the excess sebum stick together and clog the pores.
Excess Sebum Produced
Excess sebum produced by the sebaceous glands can result in blocked pores, greasy scalp and oily skin leading to spots forming.
Bacteria exist in small amounts on the skin but when a blockage occurs the number of bacteria grow, flourishing in the sebum leading to inflammation.
The hormone androgen increases during puberty causing the sebaceous glands to enlarge resulting in increased levels of sebum.
Best Ways to Use CBD Oil for Acne
There are numerous ways to get CBD oil into your body so it can get to work. All methods will result in this compound interacting with receptors in your body to give you the end result, but when it comes to acne in particular, topicals are the preferred choice and for good reason.
There is a huge range of creams, balms, and salves available containing different strengths of CBD. CBD oil is highly permeable and can enter the skin easily where it accumulates in the sebaceous gland. Topicals, and especially those containing hemp seed oil, should be the number one choice for people looking to treat acne as hemp seed oil also contains essential amino acids.
Capsules are a precise method of ingesting cannabidiol easily and effectively. Varying strengths accommodate every unique ECS system and the effects will last up to 8 hours. They are also available in a vegetarian form.
Vaping flower or e-liquid provides fast onset of effects because the vapour enters the lungs where it quickly enters systemic circulation via pulmonary absorption. Because vaporizers heat the product rather than burn it, you can be assured that there will be no toxic substances that may arise from combustion methods.
Drops are placed under the tongue using a pipette for accurate, effective dosing. Numerous strengths are available so you can take less but get more. Bottles come in a variety of natural or terpene infused flavours for every palate.
For those who may not like the taste of the oil you can purchase a wide variety of foods, drinks, and snacks. Edibles give you precise dosing that can last for up to 8 hours. You can even bake your own delicious treats with a host of recipes available. Take a look at our related article on CBD edibles to learn more.
Related Article: CBD Edibles
Burning flower in a roll-up or other smoking paraphernalia results in a quick onset of effects, but combustion can result in other toxins being produced and so vaping flower in a quality electronic device is considered a much safer alternative.
How Does CBD Oil Treat Acne?
Cannabidiol action on the ECS of the skin is as multifaceted as the plant it comes from. Researchers at the University of Debrecen, Hungary, published a remarkable study showing CBD oil having a “trinity of cellular anti-acne actions” such as:
- Increased sebum production is a result of endogenous cannabinoids (anandamide and 2AG) produced in the sebaceous glands acting on CB2 receptors. CBD oil was shown to inhibit the lipogenic action of these endocannabinoids in a dose-dependent manner regulating sebum production.
- CBD oil was shown to possess remarkable antibacterial effects by eliminating the bacteria that surrounds the site of infection.
- CBD oil anti-inflammatory effects prevented “pro-acne” agents from elevating pro-inflammatory cytokine levels.
In fact, the researchers showed that CBD oil even changes our DNA. This incredible compound was shown to upregulate the expression of 72 genes among which multiple potential “anti-acne” genes were identified.
Related Article: CBD Oil Benefits
Does It You Help With Acne Scars?
CBD oil can help with acne scars according to researchers from Modena in Italy who concluded that the topical application of CBD infused with hemp oil resulted in “significantly improved skin parameters” when administered to lesioned skin twice daily for 3 months.
The researchers noted that the antiproliferative (cell changing) and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD oil instigated these positive changes which were supported by clinical analysis, photographic data, and subjective patient responses.
Does It Work on Body Acne?
Yes CBD oil can work on body acne also. The back, chest, shoulders, and neck can break out in acne because they contain more sebaceous glands than the rest of the body.
This safe compound can reduce sebum excretion which creates the bottleneck effect that results in the pronouncement of a spot. It also lowers the number of bacteria which gather at the site of infection and reduces the accompanying inflammation.
Will CBD Help With Any Other Skin Problems?
Skin, the largest organ in the body, contains within it the ECS molecular signalling system that CBD oil has been proven to interact with directly and/or indirectly. It has the ability to alter signals in the body and the brain resulting in anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial effects which contribute to a balance of health and have been shown to:
- Reduce Psoriasis
- Reduce Dermatitis
- Relieve Itchy skin
- Reduce dry skin
- Relieve anxiety
Although research is still ongoing, cannabidiol has been shown to have tremendous potential in treating a number of skin conditions, including acne, primarily by reducing sebum production, eliminating bacteria and reducing inflammation.
No other anti-acne agent can compare to cannabidiol in terms of effectiveness and its impeccable safety profile. Not only that but this cannabinoid is well-tolerated in humans and has been shown to not irritate the skin either.
In fact, rather than dismiss this plant or try to fight its growing reputation, major skin care brands such as Kiehl’s, Ho Karen and Lord Jones have actually infused it into their products.
Acne and other skin blemishes should not put a halt to our lives, but when they start to affect your mental health, rather than splash harsh chemicals on your face, why not try a more natural solution backed by science.
Original article appeared on Candid Magazine, 10/2019.