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Studies have found cannabis may be beneficial for addressing acne, the most common skin condition in the United States.
With research discovering that the cannabinoids found in cannabis are beneficial for treating skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis, could the plant’s skin health benefits also apply to acne? Below, we take a look at the research that’s been done so far.
Affecting an estimated 80 percent of all people between the ages of 11 and 30, acne is long-term skin disease involving the overproduction of an oily substance called sebum. Within the skin’s follicles, sebum is responsible for carrying dead cells to the skin’s surface. When the oil is overproduced, it clogs the follicle, allowing bacteria to form and causing a pimple. In the United States, the costs associated with the treatment of acne exceed $3 billion.
The volume of studies investigating the efficacy of cannabinoids on acne is lacking, but findings in the research that has been done are extremely promising. Sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum, have been found to contain cannabinoid receptors, meaning their functions can be regulated by cannabinoids and their influence on the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for keeping many of our functions in balance, including the biological processes related to our skin. Cannabinoids interact with these cannabinoid receptors to support the endocannabinoid system and its efforts to regulate oil secretion.
Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the most abundant cannabinoids, has shown to inhibit the lipid production in skin cells and effectively regulate the output of oils in the skin, causing researchers to conclude that it shows promise as a therapeutic agent for acne. In a clinical trial investigating the effects of a CBD facial serum, 100 percent of participants reported an overall improvement in skin appearance after just two weeks of consistent treatments. In another, hemp oil was found to significantly reduce sebum output and to be well-tolerated when applied topically to the face for 12 weeks.
Some researchers believe that it’s the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids that are primarily responsible for their potential skin health benefits. A patent by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows CBD to possess significant antioxidant properties, meaning it may help control the swelling and redness surrounding acne.
CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the well-known cannabinoid found in cannabis, have demonstrated antibacterial properties, which could also help reduce the development of acne. Dermatologists commonly recommend antibacterial agents for the treatment of severe acne or acne that is more likely to leave scars. According to WebMD, antibiotics can kill the bacteria that cause acne, reducing pimples and redness and improving the look of your skin.
With people becoming increasingly aware of the skin health benefits of cannabinoids, topical body care products infused with CBD are now available on the market. Cannabis topical products can include balms, lotions, salves, and oils. When cannabis oil is applied topically, it is absorbed directly through the skin, allowing its cannabinoids to interact with local cannabinoid receptors and activate the endocannabinoid system.
Learn more about what research has found about cannabis and skin health on our education page.