ECS, CBD and Skin

ECS, CBD and Skin

ECS, CBD and Skin
(By: Maureen Smyth, BA, BSN, RN, on May 31, 2021)  
Cannabis Educator. Ganjier Certification Candidate 2021

ECS, CBD and Skin

Skin is a barrier against the world. The skin we are in is made up of a lot of different cell types. Our endocannabinoid system or ECS repairs skin problems. The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. CBD uses the same receptors that our endocannabinoids do, so researchers checked to see if CBD can fix skin problems too.

Let’s see how topical CBD works in a couple of different studies. In a 2019 Italian study involving 20 patients with common skin conditions like psoriasis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), acne and scarring, the participants reported better appearance and hydration of skin. All 20 patients said their symptoms were better (less itchiness, redness and swelling) and so was their quality of life. (Reviewed in: Sulak, D. Topical Applications of CBD; So in that study CBD improved redness, inflammation, hydration and appearance.

Let’s look at how CBD May Treat Acne: 

Acne is common but sometimes hard to treat. Research suggests topical application of CBD might help in a couple of different ways. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD inhibited oil production. Certain glands make oil to protect the skin but sometimes go into overdrive. Then we get acne and seborrhea. If the glands underproduce oil, we get atopic dermatitis. That’s where CBD comes in handy.

Our bodies contain about 2,500 to 6,000 sebaceous glands per square inch. Sometimes “pro-acne” agents get those sebaceous glands overexcited. Another study called, “Cannabinoids in Acne and Seborrhea” explains how CBD helps.

Research into the ECS shows that CBD signals the CB2 cannabinoid receptors on skin cells and that keeps oil production in check. Also, CBD’s anti-inflammatory factors settle down the overactive glands which helps the ECS get back in balance.

By signaling the CB2 receptors, the molecules in your CBD topical may also slow down new cell growth until oil production is normal. In general these molecules also slow the growth of abnormal skin cells and exerts some antimicrobial properties.

Read the Label:

“The cosmetic industry is destroying women’s cells.” -Toxic Beauty. Women of color are way more exposed to toxic chemicals in beauty products, according to a commentary published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

That’s because “pressure to meet Western standards of beauty means Black, Latina and Asian American women are using more beauty products and thus are exposed to higher levels of chemicals known to be harmful to health,” says Ami Zota, an environmental epidemiologist at the George Washington University.

Each day, the average woman in the US uses 12 different cosmetic and makeup products containing an average of 168 ingredients. Many of these ingredients are untested chemicals since the US law that regulates cosmetics — the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act — hasn't been changed since it was enacted in 1938. Regulators should insist on third-party testing for carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, irritants, allergens in all our skin products.

Bonus Fact:

The medical community noticed a correlation between cannabis and acne because people who used synthetic, hyper potent THC (e.g., “Bonsai”, “fake weed”, “K2”, and “Jamaica”) had prematurely aged skin and acne. This was in 2005. With the knowledge that cannabinoids affected skin, researchers began looking into how the ECS is involved in both protecting and harming epidermis.

Next up: Not All CBD is Created Equal

Not All CBD is Created Equal

CBD can be derived from a cannabis plant or a hemp plant. CBD from Cannabis Sativa L., even with no THC in it is still a federally illegal cannabinoid. Hemp derived CBD is not a federally illegal cannabinoid.

Secondly, there are almost 400 compounds in the cannabis plant, a CBD only product, takes all those other vital phytoconstituents out of the final product. The end product is called a CBD concentrate. At each level of extraction, the flower becomes less and less a whole plant product.

When CBD gets refined to its furthest point past the level of concentrate the only thing left is a 99% pure CBD isolate in a crystal or powder form. And really, truth be told, a lot of grocery store CBD topicals are just lotions with minimal CBD. Topical CBD needs to have a range of potency in order for it to be an effective product.

Here’s a lil guide: 0.5% CBD is the on the low range of “might actually do something to relieve pain and/or inflammation”. The most effective products contain up to 2% CBD by weight. 0.5% CBD means it contains 141 mg of the cannabinoid CBD per oz, while 2% CBD per oz equals 566mg. Cannabis derived CBD has minimal THC through the extraction process or it has originated from a seed that has a high CBD genetic profile.

The key difference between hemp plants and cannabis plants is resin content according to Martin Lee @projectCBD. Most hemp plants are low-resin plants. Cannabis plants are high-resin plants. The resin is where the cannabinoids concentrate.

Hemp makes more CBD than cannabis does. You just need a lot of hemp plants to make one little bottle of CBD tincture.

Cannabis CBD in theory should provide its user more phytochemicals (secondary cannabinoids and terpenes) that provide the consumer with the valuable “entourage effect” cannabinoids offer.

Cannabis becomes more with the sum of its parts. It is better than you would expect when you utilize the individual parts, because the way they combine adds a different quality.

In short, the entourage effect means (each constituent taken together adds more therapeutic value when taken as a singular agent.

Cannabis has an interesting pharmacodynamic profile. Pharmacodynamics describes what the drug does in the body.

Cannabis dosing can be effective on both sides of the peak plasma levels curve. Too high a dose and a lot of times, you may experience symptoms you are actually trying to relieve.

With CBD an out of range dose can make a person experience daytime fatigue or conversely jitteriness (like too much caffeine). Too much CBD in your dosing regimen can cause diarrhea or irritable bowel.

Ok, so you get the picture, dosage ranges are important and should be paid attention to. Also, dosing of cannabis is very much an individualized self-titration process. Start low, pay attention, titrate slowly to effect. If you have unwanted effects, drop to the dose prior to experiencing the undesirable qualities and stick with that!

Look for quality manufacturing with reliable dosing. Full product traceability from seed to sale can be verified if the product comes with a certificate of analysis (COA).

Complementary essential oils can be added to accentuate the uptake and efficacy of cannabinoids for maximum absorption.

Malignant melanoma

Malignant melanoma is a highly aggressive form of skin #cancer that constitutes only about 5% of all skin cancer cases, yet accounts for the majority (60–80%) of deaths from skin cancer.

Swiss researchers investigated the role of CB2 receptor on immune cells in #melanoma.

Analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data revealed a strong positive correlation between CB2R expression and survival, as well as B cell infiltration in human melanoma.

In a murine melanoma model, CB2R expression reduced the growth of melanoma as well as the B cell frequencies in the tumor microenvironment (TME), compared to CB2R-deficient mice.

In depth analysis of tumor-infiltrating B cells using single-cell RNA sequencing suggested a less differentiated phenotype in tumors from Cb2r−/− mice.

These data indicate a central role of CB2R on B cells in regulating tumor immunity and provide further evidence in the use of CB2 targeted therapies. 

THC, CBG, CBC, THCV and beta-caryophyllene all target the CB2 receptor and topical + systemic preparations of these natural compounds, should be tested on this type of cancer.


For more information about how cannabis helps chronic itch.


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