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Getting Under the Skin of Cannabinoids

June 6, 2018 Reviewed by Marta 1 Comment

A couple of years ago, the skincare industry clambered aboard the cannabis bandwagon with potions and lotions infused with hemp oil and skincare lines branded CBD. They were overwhelmingly underwhelming. But there’s no smoke without fire and tons of research dollars have been poured into the medical marijuana industry. I decided to take a closer look at cannabis, skincare and general wellness.

Specifically, we are talking about cannabinoids. The one that most people have been familiar with is the phytocannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the primary psychoactive (high inducing) compound in cannabis. The other major cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD).

Although there are more than 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, with different effects, the skincare and health/wellness industries are focused on cannabidiol (CBD). This is because CBN has a strong affinity for CB-2 receptors located throughout the body.

The human body, in fact, produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. These are really important for the maintainenace plysical stability and health. Endocannabinoids mediate communication between cells and, consequently, when there is a deficiency or problem with our endocannabinoid system, our physical and mental health will be affected.

So now we can see why cannabinoids are touted to bring relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation.

While, I am still not convinced by these skincare products with a smattering of hemp oil, there is a compelling story for why topical CBD could be highly beneficial.

The skin possesses all the elements of the endocannabinoid system, i.e., endocannabinoid compounds (AEA and 2-AG), metabotropic (CB1R and CB2R) and ionotropic (TRPV-1) receptors of cannabinoids and the enzymes involved in the synthesis and metabolism of endocannabinoids (e.g. FAAH and MAGL). The various elements in the endocannabinoid system are involved in key mechanisms of skin regulation, such as control of growth of the epidermis and skin annexes, cell survival, immune and inflammatory responses, the transmission of sensory stimuli to the central nervous system (pain, itching) and the synthesis of lipids, among other activities. (Source)

Having said that, research on what cannabinoids can do for the skin itself if still a bit sparse. Most focuses on contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. Relief for itching seems especially promising. (Source)

In an animal study, researchers examined the effects of CB1 on skin inflammation. Mice treated with topical CB1 showed greater recovery of epidermal barrier function in acutely abrogated skin and a decrease of chronic skin inflammation.(Source)

Furthermore, cannabinoids are an important source of antioxidants (source). Nearly 100 cannabinoids have been identified in the plant, together with a large number of other bioactive compounds, such as phenolics and terpenes, which also have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities (Hanuš et al., 2016; Russo, 2011).

Aging and many diseases are the result of inflammation and science on inflammatory diseases and cannabinoids is advancing at a rapid rate.  The fact that both CB1 and CB2 receptors have been found on immune cells suggests to scientists that cannabinoids play an important role in the regulation of the immune system. (Source)

Cannabinoids have been shown to be helpful for autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis.  During the past few years, researchers are also becoming  more knowledgeable about the cannabinoid system and inflammatory liver disease. Cannabinoid therapies have also been extended to inflammation-related cancers, as well as other inflammation related diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

  • June 8, 2018

    by Barbara

    Well done! You've done your research well!

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