Is hemp oil effective in treating skin conditions?
Hemp oil derives from the seeds, flowers, or leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant. There is some evidence that molecules and chemicals found in hemp oil may be beneficial for skin health.
Hemp oil may help treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, acne scarring, and dry skin. However, research is still ongoing.
Read on to learn more about what hemp oil is, its possible health benefits, what the research currently says about whether it helps reduce or prevent skin conditions, and other natural skin remedies.
Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.
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Some people refer to hemp oil as hemp seed oil or full-spectrum hemp oil, but the products are different.
Manufacturers produce hemp seed oil by compressing hemp seeds rather than the leaves and flowers. Hemp seed oil does not contain any CBD, which is the main active component in full-spectrum hemp oils.
Full-spectrum hemp oil is a type of CBD oil made from the pressed flowers and leaves of the C. sativa plant. Manufacturers use hemp oil as the carrier oil, and it contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Technically, both types of hemp oil are cannabis products, as they both come from the C. sativa plant.
Both types of hemp oil have a greenish color and a nutty flavor and smell. Unrefined hemp oils tend to be darker green and contain more nutrients than refined oils. Refined hemp oils tend to be clearer.
Scientists need to carry out more research to discover the full range of health benefits that hemp oil can provide.
However, some studies have indicated that hemp oil may have numerous potential health benefits, such as:
- moisturizing properties
- reducing inflammation
- helping control oil production
- reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- reducing the risk of infection
- reducing symptoms of menopause
- excellent source of healthful fats, protein, and antioxidants
- preventing seizures
- helping manage or treat addictions or substance misuse disorders
- protecting nerve and brain cells
- reducing depression symptoms
- reducing or controlling anxiety
Scientists believe that most of the health benefits linked to hemp oil are due to the oil’s rich mixture of beneficial plant chemicals called phytochemicals, as well as other nutrients.
Important phytochemicals and nutrients found in full-spectrum hemp oil include:
- cannabinoids terpenes
- omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- linoleic acid, γ-linolenic acid, and α-linolenic acid
- oleic acid
- palmitic acid
Some studies have found preliminary or limited evidence that molecules and chemicals found in hemp oil may benefit skin health. Skin conditions that may benefit from using hemp oil include:
Hemp oil, especially hemp seed oil, is rich in unsaturated fats such as linoleic acid, γ-linolenic acid, and α-linolenic acid.
These three fatty acids may help improve skin structure by helping the skin retain moisture. They also have a beneficial effect on dry, rough skin and can influence the fluidity of cell membranes and transport of electrolytes.
A 2017 study found that applying 0.5 cm3 of an emulsion that contained hemp seed oil helped moisturize the dehydrated skin of some participants.
Hemp oil also contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and people with omega deficiencies can develop rough, scaly skin.
Acne and acne scars
Hemp oil contains several compounds with oil-reducing, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that may help improve acne vulgaris.
Studies using mice and human cells show that compounds in hemp oil, such as CBD, may also help improve acne scars by reducing healing time, boosting collagen levels, and stimulating other healing processes, such as cellular turnover and regeneration.
Inflammatory skin conditions
Hemp oil contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds, such as fatty acids, antioxidants, and CBD, that may help reduce symptoms associated with inflammatory skin conditions, such as skin dryness, itchiness, and pain.
A 2014 review concluded that applying hemp oil may benefit people with:
- atopic dermatitis
- seborrheic dermatitis
- varicose eczema
- lichen planus
- acne rosacea
Consuming hemp oil may also benefit people with inflammatory skin conditions. Some research has found that dietary hemp oil intake can reduce medication use in people with atopic dermatitis.
Symptoms of skin aging
According to a 2015 journal article, hemp oil can treat and prevent the skin symptoms associated with aging.
According to an older article, this may be because people who consume higher amounts of linoleic acid seem to have a lower likelihood of developing age-related dryness and atrophy, or thinning.
Hemp oil also contains compounds that reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when molecules called free radicals damage the skin, leading to wrinkles and fine lines over time.
Hemp oil also contains compounds that combat signs of skin aging by:
- stimulating skin regeneration
- improving skin elasticity and firmness
- reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
- reducing skin dullness and improving skin brightness
- retaining moisture in the skin
- increasing collagen production
Hemp oil contains antimicrobial compounds and antioxidants that can help destroy microbes, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi, that cause disease.
It also contains compounds that help strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, making it harder for microbes to enter the skin and cause infection or disease.
UV damage and hyperpigmentation
Hemp contains both α-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, which help repair UV skin damage by increasing the removal of melanin.
Melanin is the name for a broad group of natural skin pigments that give the skin’s upper layer its color.
Both α-linolenic acid and linoleic acid can also help reduce hyperpigmentation, or excessive skin darkening, that tends to occur with sun exposure, by suppressing the production of melanin.
Some studies have found preliminary evidence that molecules and chemicals found in hemp oil may benefit skin health. Learn more.