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An increasing amount of research is being done to show how cannabis can benefit numerous aspects of our internal health. But investigators haven’t focused nearly as much on what cannabis can do for our skin.
There are creams on the market made from phytocannabinoids (pCBs), bioactive compounds in the marijuana plant that include THC and CBD. These creams can have powerful anti-inflammatory effects that relieve itching and potentially help multiple skin issues, including psoriasis, eczema and fibrosis.
For instance, one small study found that applying cannabinoid cream twice a day for three weeks completely cured a painful, red, itchy skin condition called pruritus in almost 40 percent of individuals who tried it.
Limited scientific data suggests cannabis could be of benefit in anti-aging or rejuvenation products, but the extent of these benefits is unknown. That’s why one international research team decided to investigate the use of pCBs in products meant to rejuvenate the skin….
The impact of pCBs on skin rejuvenation
Although the epidermis is the visible layer of skin, the underlying dermis plays a key role in delivering nutrients and structurally supporting the epidermis through a network of interconnected collagen and elastin fibers. This extracellular matrix (ECM) also is central to skin hydration because it binds water to the collagen fibers contained within.
Over time, genetic and epigenetic changes, environmental stressors and successive replication of skin cells can cause alterations and lead to degradation in telomeres — structures that safeguard your DNA.
This cascades into the gradual degradation of the ECM and the subsequent deterioration that causes skin to become visibly aged.
In the study, the scientists used healthy and stress-induced premature senescent (SIPS) skin fibroblasts to test the effect of pCBs on cellular viability, functional activity, metabolic function and the architecture of the nucleus.
According to the researchers, “Both delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) within the range of 0.5 µM to 2.0 µM increased cell growth in a dose-dependent manner while significantly decreasing senescence as measured by beta-galactosidase activity.”
In other words, THC and CBD promoted an increase in new cell growth while decreasing the number of damaged cells — or senescent cells. Cellular senescence has been an important area of aging research for a while now.
But not only that. they found both THC and CBD significantly improved wound healing in both healthy and SIPS fibroblasts, and altered cells and genes involved in ECM production.
THC was also found to reduce alterations in skin cells, increase the potential for cellular viability by preserving cell-cycle regulators, as well as boost ECM production.
The researchers added, “Both THC and CBD were found to improve wound healing better than metformin, rapamycin, and triacetylresveratrol in replicative senescent CCD-1135Sk fibroblasts. Therefore, pCBs can be a valuable source of biologically active substances used in cosmetics, and more studies using clinical trials should be performed to confirm the efficacy of phytocannabinoids.”
How to use topical phytocannabinoids
Cannabinoids are lipophilic compounds, meaning they can pass through difficult biological barriers like the skin. This means transdermal emulsions and creams containing pCBs are not only easy but effective to use. They are absorbed into the skin and bind to the numerous cannabinoid receptors in its different layers.
It’s best to apply them to clean skin so that there are no other cosmetics or contaminants that could interfere with their absorption. And with balms, you may need to warm them first so that they’ll better penetrate the skin.
Unfortunately, the patchwork of regulations that cover pCB products in the U.S. can make it difficult to find them in certain states, particularly if they contain THC. However, hemp-derived CBD topicals can be found in drug stores where wellness products are sold.
This site can help you determine which pCB products are legal to buy in your state, and they have an entire section on “Topicals” that can help you learn more — including that topicals are non-intoxicating (even the ones containing THC) and may include other ingredients such as essential oils.
Editor’s note: Beware of ‘junk CBD’! Before you buy, click here to know these 4 ways to identify fake CBD products.
1. Study: Both THC and CBD Improve Wound Healing, May be Valuable As Skin Rejuvenators — The Marijuana Herald
3. Medical marijuana laws in the United States — Leafly
4. Best CBD Creams Of 2023 — Forbes