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Can Cannabis Help Treat Acne?

Acne is a troubling skin condition that no one enjoys. Part of the issue is that treatments can come with major side effects, or can fail to produce results altogether. When it comes to cannabis and its cannabinoids, is the plant able to reduce symptoms or prevent acne breakouts?

WHAT IS ACNE?

Acne is a term that compiles a series of dermatological conditions. Blackheads, pimples, whiteheads, and cysts all fall under the term. It’s the most common skin condition in America, and potentially in the world.

Most people have had acne in one form or another at some stage in their lives. It occurs when skin secretions clog up the pores, and it may be more outwardly noticeable if you have greasy/oily skin, which happens mostly during the teenage years. This is thanks to increased hormonal activity during adolescence. It can lead to scarring if left untreated, and it is also a very common cause of teenage depression. This is why, for many years, we have seen the market flooded with different cleansers, moisturisers, and exfoliators to combat and prevent acne. But none of these work for everyone, and they don’t seem to fully eliminate the problem. This is why researchers have begun to explore cannabis as a potential option.

CANNABIS AND ACNE

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) exists all throughout the human body—in the central nervous system, the immune system, and yes, even the skin. Among other functions, the ECS is believed to help control the production and health of skin cells. In fact, sebaceous glands (those responsible for secreting oil into hair follicles) have been shown to feature cannabinoid receptors [1] . This consequently suggests that cannabinoids, both internal and/or external, may affect their normal functioning. Being that the endocannabinoid system’s function is to keep everything in balance, it’s possible that it could prove to be a target for normalising oil production in the sebaceous glands.

WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS ABOUT CBD FOR ACNE

In 2014, the Journal of Clinical Investigation published a research article which states [2] that CBD produces “a unique ‘trinity of cellular anti-acne actions’”. These actions include: normalising the metabolic formation of fat produced by “pro-acne” agents, suppressing skin cell proliferation, and preventing proinflammatory cytokine production. The researchers go on to suggest that CBD’s proposed antiproliferative effect on human sebocytes is “expected to greatly reduce sebum production in vivo”. They also bring into context CBD’s proposed antibacterial potential, referencing a study [3] in which CBD displayed “remarkable antibacterial activity” on hyperproliferative keratinocytes.

Even with these intriguing results, far too many reviews reference preclinical and preliminary clinical data. A need for more in-depth study is warranted.

Now that we have a better idea of what the science says about CBD, it’s worth looking into its psychotropic sister cannabinoid, THC. After all, the cannabis plant is much more than just CBD, or just cannabinoids for that matter.

WHAT ABOUT THC AND ACNE?

In a Huffington Post interview, Dr. Ariel Ostad states that THC increases levels of sebum indirectly by increasing levels of testosterone when smoking. As such, she suggests that those predisposed to acne may be at a greater risk of developing breakouts when enjoying THC-rich cannabis. That said, fellow dermatologist Dr. Bobby Buka mentions that this 3–5% increase in testosterone is not enough to directly stimulate acne or unusual hair growth.

The above scientific findings are consistent with others in that they are _inconsistent_. Given THC’s illicit status in many parts of the world, there simply haven’t been enough large-scale clinical trials, or even preclinical trials, on THC for acne and other skin conditions. All things considered, acne sufferers who want to use cannabinoids should proceed with caution.

CBD OIL AND HEMP SEED OIL

There are a lot of people who don’t live somewhere with an established cannabis market or legal framework. However, CBD oil is exponentially gaining steam, and can be purchased legally in brick-and-mortar shops and online. Just make sure it’s high-quality, hemp-derived CBD oil containing negligible levels of THC (exact amounts will vary based on jurisdiction).

Aside from cannabinoids, individuals can capitalise on the nutritious properties of hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil is full of antioxidants, rich in omega fatty acids, and contains more than 50% of your daily linoleic acid. This last one is particularly intriguing, as low levels of the acid are linked to acne breakouts. Authors of a 2009 review published [4] in Dermato-Endocrinology propose that “linoleic acid is directly involved in the sebaceous lipid synthesis”, and that low levels of the acid are a risk factor for comedone (black head/white head) production and may increase “impairment of the epidermal barrier function”.

Although hemp seed oil on its own doesn’t contain any cannabinoids, it can be infused with CBD to create a formula rich in natural hemp constituents.

While we can’t make any hard and fast conclusions about using cannabis for acne, we can look to current scientific studies and reviews, as well as recommendations from dermatologists and other medical professionals. Hopefully, the future of cannabis for acne is clear and bright.

Recent research has led to some interesting findings regarding how cannabis affects acne. Learn how CBD may be the end of those pesky pimples.

Can Smoking Marijuana Create Skin Problems?

As marijuana is increasingly being legalized for both medical and recreational use, there are many aspects to discover about the plant’s effects on your health. This includes your skin, the body’s largest organ.

There’s some talk online about marijuana aggravating oily skin and causing acne, while others claim that smoking it can benefit your skin.

The bottom line is there isn’t enough scientific evidence available to establish links between smoking marijuana and your skin health. So far, research into any skin benefits of marijuana have looked at topical uses only.

Let’s cover the claims about smoking marijuana and its effects on the skin, both good and bad.

Marijuana contains a variety of naturally occurring compounds that primarily affect your central nervous system (which includes the brain).

The plant itself has increasingly gained a reputation for its cannabidiol (CBD) content, which may affect your brain but doesn’t get you high. Another chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the substance that does get users high.

All marijuana contains THC, but CBD, as a derivative, doesn’t have THC. However, CBD oil production currently isn’t regulated, so quality and concentration likely varies.

Traditional marijuana has hallucinogenic effects, which are attributed to THC. It can also cause side effects that mostly affect your brain, lungs, and heart. Another side effect is dry mouth.

However, there’s no concrete proof that marijuana can dry out your skin and perhaps lead to acne and other skin care concerns .

It’s well-established that smoking tobacco products such as cigarettes can lead to long-term skin damage.

You may notice that people who smoke tend to have more fine lines and wrinkles compared to those who don’t. This may be due to the effect that tobacco has on collagen content in the skin. Collagen is the natural protein in your skin responsible for elasticity and plumpness.

Still, it’s not clear whether these same effects apply to smoking marijuana. While cannabis itself isn’t considered carcinogenic, the smoke from both tobacco and possibly marijuana contain carcinogens, with tobacco smoke having the most-established negative effects.

On the flip side, the marijuana plant itself has been found to have anti-inflammatory components .

There are conflicting claims on the internet about marijuana and your skin, none of which are based on scientific studies.

Some suggest marijuana can potentially benefit your skin and keep sebum at bay. Sebum is the oil produced from sebaceous glands that can contribute to acne. Others claim that it can make your skin age more rapidly and perhaps worsen inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and rosacea. A lot of the confusion has to do with the way marijuana is used.

One possible benefit of smoking marijuana is its ability to reduce the risk of certain cancers. This may include skin cancer .

Other preliminary studies show that the anti-inflammatory effects of marijuana could help certain skin diseases , but more clinical trials are needed.

The truth is that researchers now have more opportunities to study the effects of marijuana on skin health, partly thanks to the legalization of the substance in some states.

As more studies are conducted on marijuana, the more concrete clinical evidence we will have on its effects on the skin.

When considering marijuana for skin health, there also seems to be more evidence that topical uses of cannabis, rather than smoking it, may benefit the skin. “Topical” here means applied directly to the skin.

One review suggested that cannabinoids in marijuana, when applied topically, may produce anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects for eczema.

Another study of topical cannabis found that cannabinoids “show promise” to help treat acne due to its anti-inflammatory effects.

While being around others who smoke marijuana may infrequently lead to a “contact high” from THC, there’s no evidence showing that secondhand marijuana smoke can affect the skin.

It isn’t well-known what the side effects of inhaling marijuana smoke are, so it’s unclear what the long-term risks associated with secondhand smoke from marijuana might be.

Very little research has been done to determine whether smoking marijuana can lead to skin problems like acne. Here's what we know so far. ]]>