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Introduction

Currently, 29 states in the U.S. have approved various comprehensive public medical cannabis programs, and more states are inclined to follow suit. Various studies have investigated the effects of Cannabis, more specifically a compound in the plant called cannabidiol (CBD), and its uses for spasticity, anorexia, nausea, mood disorders, chronic pain, epilepsy, neurodegenerative disorders, glaucoma just to name a few.

In recent years, researchers have grown more interested in the use of CBD for skin conditions such as skin cancer, psoriasis, acne, inflammatory skin disease and pruritus. Read along for a brief overview of the available research and clinical studies .

What are some of the most common skin conditions?

Most patients suffering from skin conditions find themselves in a vicious cycle that affects their bodily, mental and emotional stability. These conditions have been known to increase stress, and stress makes most of these conditions even worse, which can make the cycle continue for a long time. If left untreated, skin conditions can deteriorate and cause other problems such as anxiety and stress disorders, including suicidal thoughts.

In the U.S. acne is the most common skin conditionthat particularly affects teenagers since its development is caused by hormonal changes. Nonetheless, this condition also affects adults, and can go on until past the middle age. Other common skin diseases in the U.S. include psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, chronic pruritus, basal cell carcinoma and rosacea. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer.

What is the role of inflammation in skin conditions?

Of all the skin conditions, the most common physiological process that seems to make them worse is inflammation. Even though this process is crucial for fending off pathogens and irritants in our bodies, it can also get out of balance and cause skin conditions or worsen existing ones.

Research shows that inflammation plays a critical role in the growth of acne, atopic dermatitisand contact dermatitiswhich triggered by irritants that cause inflammation. Inflammation also plays a role in the development of other conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis, chronic pruritusand even basal cell carcinoma.

Common treatments for skin conditions

To keep most skin conditions under control, you have to remove the inflammation triggers or the situation gets worse. Therefore, NSAIDs and other forms of anti-inflammatories are often used to treat these diseases. Furthermore, oral and topical antibiotics are often prescribed to treat or prevent any infections to the lesions and pain medication to mitigate any pain.

Nonetheless, although these drugs control inflammation, not all of them are effective, not to mention that they cause adverse side effects. Furthermore, these medication pose a risk of causing serious medical conditions when used for long periods.

Due to these and other reasons, researchers and patients alike have been seeking for better alternatives, and among these cannabidiol stands as one of the most promising. Take a look at the summary of the available studies below.

The Endocannabinoid system and how it interacts with our skin: Studies and Reports involving CBD for Skin Conditions

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) consisting of receptors (CB1 & CB2) and endocannabinoids such as anandamide, that maintain the balance of various physiological processes in the body. It is a newly discovered system that was first detected by Israeli scientists and researchers are still trying to grasp the full scope of its influence on our bodies.

With regards to CBD for conditions, the ECS receptors are found all over the human skin epithelium, and it is believed that CBD interacts with these receptors as well as through other mechanisms to reduce inflammation.

  • CBD for Psoriasis

For instance, scientists carried out a studyseeking to establish the effects of CBD on psoriasis – a chronic hyper-proliferative, inflammatory skin disease. They found that when CB1 receptors are activated, they inhibit hair growth and reduce the creation of a type of epithelial cells called epidermal keratinocytes. A keratinocyte is a type of cell that creates a protein called keratin; the material that makes the outer layer of our skin. How CBD exactly works to achieve thes effects was not clear, but since it both inhibited cell proliferation and inflammation, it promises a bright future in the management of this awful disease.

In another research, the scientists investigated the role of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid found in the ECS, in the growth and survival of epidermal keratinocytes (KCs). They found that anandamide reduced the proliferation of KCs through the TRPV1 receptor due to an influx in calcium ions. In a nutshell, the results provide a potential lead for the possible mechanism for developing novel agents that target various hyperproflirative human dermatitis such as KC-derived skin cancers and psoriasis.

  • CBD for Atopic and Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Another reportnoted that cannabidiol  has anti-inflammatory characteristics that may be useful in treating both atopic and allergic contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis is described an acute inflammatory reaction when specific substances get into contact with the skin. It is a prevalent condition affecting about 5% of men and 11% of women in industrialized nations and forms one of the leading causes of occupational infections.

  • CBD for Pruritus

Another area of interest is in the treatment of acute, therapy-resistant pruritus, which often responds poorly to standard medication. A study involving 22 subjectswith lichen simplex, prurigo and pruritus showed that cannabidiol-based medication can be explored as a realistic therapy for patients with these conditions. In summary, the researchers recorded an 86.4% decrease in itch and a high level of toleration in all patients. Out of the 22 patients, 14 reported good antipruritic results. The scholars conclude that higher concentrations could prove to be more effective in itches of various origins.

  • CBD for Acne

Another investigation explored the effects of CBD to the human sebaceous gland function. The scientists established in this study that CBD is an extremely effective sebostatic agent. It showed a combined lipostatic, antiproliferative and antiinflammatory characteristics. This suggests that CBD makes for a promising therapeutic agent for controlling acne vulgaris. For more research and clinical studies with regards to CBD for acne, click here.

What does the science say? How CBD Works to Treat Skin Conditions

Up to now, scientists have not been able to fully understand the various mechanisms of action in which CBD interacts with different organs and physiological processes in our bodies. As a result, a lot of studies are ongoing with the aim of establishing the facts.

It has been proven that endocannabinoid signaling plays a part in controlling the epidermal physiology. Anandamide can mitigate the expression of skin differentiation genes via DNA methylation. The same study found that CBD can control cell proliferation and differentiation. This means that it has the potential to be the main compounds for the creation of skin medication therapies.

Melanogenesis is a physiological process that plays a crucial role in protecting the skin from external pressures including radiation and oxidative stressors.

A recent investigation resolved to find out the effect of CBD on melanogenesisand its mechanism of action in human epidermal melanocytes. They found that CBD increased melanin content and tyrosinase activity by activating the p38 MAPK and p42/44 MAPK pathways. The results suggest that CBD can be used as a protective agent against external skin stresses.

What are some of the side effects caused by CBD?

What are some of the side effects caused by CBD?

In most studies, CBD records a high safety profile in both humans and animals as concluded in this review on the safety of CBD. CBD does not cause changes in food intake nor affect the functioning of physiological processes such as blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. However, some mild side effects have been noted, these include:

  • Inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased tremor in patients with Parkinson’s at high dosages
  • Decreased appetite
  • Light headedness at high dosages
  • Sleepiness

Conclusion

The studies above clearly identify a relationship between CBD and various skin conditions through both receptor mediated (e.g. CB1) and receptor-independent (e.g. TRPV-1) pathways. As it stands, dermatologists are already seeking for ways to incorporate CBD therapy in their practices. Although CBD shows antitumor and anti-inflammatory characteristics, more clinical studies will be needed before they can be utilized for these purposes.

 

Research and Case Studies on the effects of Cannabis to treat Skin Conditions: