Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that is currently taking center stage on the health scene. One of the most popular and versatile products derived from the cannabis plant is CBD oil, which individuals can ingest, vaporize, or take sublingually. Highlighted below are the extensive benefits of another category of CBD oil uses: CBD for the skin.
Science Behind Using CBD for Skin Health
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a critical role in skin health during normal physiological conditions. For instance, the ECS regulates programmed cell death of skin cells. This allows the body to eliminate damaged cells and regenerate healthy cells. Additionally, the ECS plays a role in the activity of pro-inflammatory proteins in the body, modulating the immune response in the skin. 1
A recent report in Experimental Dermatology demonstrated that a disruption in this process can result in a variety of dermatological conditions, such as dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis, among many others.
Based on these findings, an intervention that prolongs the actions of endogenous cannabinoids may be helpful for addressing these skin conditions. Once delivered through the skin, the CBD molecule indirectly affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in a way that creates prolonged activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors.2, 3
This mechanism may allow for the boost in endogenous cannabinoids that could be helpful for addressing a variety of skin conditions. Some of the specific skincare benefits that CBD may provide are highlighted below.
Inflammation is typically a beneficial immune response that the body activates in order to prevent infections. However, unregulated inflammation can result in redness, swelling, or discomfort in the affected area. 4
Preclinical studies have demonstrated that molecules that cause activation of cannabinoid receptors, (especially CB1 and CB2) can block the pain and inflammation seen in acute and chronic models of pain. These effects occur due to increased production of endocannabinoids or more sustained activation of cannabinoid receptors. As described above, the latter is the primary mechanism by which CBD provides beneficial effects.
This same study shows that topical application may be the best route of administration for localized inflammation symptoms, such as those found in some dermatological conditions.5
Free radicals are byproducts of chemical processes that occur in the body. They are unstable because they contain an uneven number of electrons. Antioxidants, on the other hand, are stable molecules that can donate electrons to free radicals to stabilize them.
So, on their own, free radicals are not necessarily harmful to the body, but when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, free radical buildup in the body causes oxidative stress. This process can contribute to aging. 6
The reason why CBD may be useful for the skin, then, is because studies have shown that it may be an antioxidant. To determine this, researchers compared CBD's ability to protect against glutamate neurotoxicity and hydroperoxide-induced oxidative damage to other known antioxidants. The study found that CBD protected against free radical damage as well as, or better, than other known antioxidants.7
If CBD can act as an antioxidant, researchers believe it could benefit the skin by preventing damage from oxidative stress.
Skin Condition Control
CBD also has the capacity to ameliorate the physical effects of skin conditions. This includes psoriasis and acne. In addition to boosting immune function and reducing the inflammatory response, CBD can improve the skin's natural capacity to resist these conditions. 8, 9, 10
Final ThoughtsThere are many ways to use CBD, and each one has its own advantages and drawbacks. The major drawback of topical CBD oil use is the aqueous layer of the skin. Because CBD oils are hydrophobic, they may have difficulty passing through. However, some topical CBD products breach this layer, delivering the health benefits of CBD deeper in the skin.
Additionally, there are some important advantages to topical CBD oil use, especially when it comes to skincare. Topical CBD products continue to provide benefits for hours after application. Another benefit of topical CBD oil use is that individuals can apply it to an exact location, an option that other CBD administration methods don't offer.
Overall, CBD oil demonstrates great potential as a skincare tool. With more research, experts hope that there will be additional evidence to support the benefits of CBD for the skin.