Topical CBD and Its Place in the World of Skin Treatment

Topical CBD and Its Place in the World of Skin Treatment
Written by Lisa Rennie

Cannabis products have been used in several forms and for multiple reasons for centuries. So far, researchers have identified over 500 active components in the cannabis plant, with more than 100 of them categorized as phytocannabinoids.

Scientists have increasingly found more and more uses of cannabinoids in the world of medicine and wellness, including calming anxiety, alleviating pain, reducing the severity and frequency of seizures, and many others therapeutic benefits. Thus, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that cannabis may be an effective supplement or alternative to traditional medicine.

Interest continues to grow in the study of cannabis-based topical products as a means of improved skin health. More specifically, researchers have become increasingly curious about the use of topical cannabis products, including the major component of hemp cannabidiol (CBD), as a safer and even more effective alternative to corticosteroids used to treat certain skin conditions. 

CBD and Its Use In Treating Skin Conditions

Among all the known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, CBD is being extensively researched in terms of its application in skin treatment. Topical CBD-based products are being researched for their potential to be safer and more effective alternatives to topical corticosteroids. These studies may shed some light on how healthcare practitioners view skin pathology treatments for a variety of skin diseases, including the following:

  • Acne;
  • Rosacea;
  • Skin tumors;
  • Pigmentation disorders;
  • Dermatitis;
  • Psoriasis.

How Does CBD Work When Applied To The Skin?

Cannabinoids, including CBD, work in the body by interacting with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors are located throughout the brain, central nervous system, and peripheral nervous system. 

Cannabinoid receptors are activated by endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. The two types of cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2 receptors and mediates different physiological effects: CB1 receptor is involve mainly in mediating psychoactive effects while CB2 receptor is involved in the anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive actions. When CBD is applied topically to the skin, it penetrates the outer layer and spreads to underlying layers of the epidermis. Thus, the cannabinoid is transferred through the skin’s main barrier via diffusion.

Studies conducted to date have shown that topical CBD applied to the skin may have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, analgesic, anti-itching, and anti-proliferative effects, similar to the type of effects that traditional pharmaceutical products may have. These properties can directly target the underlying issues that cause the above-mentioned skin disorders.

Researchers continue to look at factors including the appropriate type of topical product for each skin condition, the right dosing, and the optimal frequency of applications.

To date, there is limited data on acute side effects and long-term efficacy of topical CBD for the skin. That said, the evidence collected thus far points to CBD as a beneficial and relatively safe cannabinoid to treat all sorts of skin issues. 

Continued research on CBD-based topicals and its application in the realm of skin health shows great promise in how skin pathology treatment is utilized for a myriad of skin conditions. More research is needed, however, within the scope of topical use of CBD to face skin pathologies.

About the author

Lisa Rennie