Dear Nurse Susan
I’m starting to see CBD everywhere: in coffee shops, juice shops, health-food stores, pharmacies etc. It’s even showing up in beauty products! This is crazy, CBD for beauty? Are you kidding me?
Dear Kidding Me,
I understand your skepticism; how can the same compound that is used for seizures (and many other issues) also be a beauty product? Let’s start by reviewing the properties of CBD that could benefit the skin.
- CBD is an antioxidant. Antioxidants inhibit the chemical reaction that produces free radicals. Free radicals are known to damage cells; they also have useful cellular functions, so the goal is not to remove oxidants entirely but to keep them at an optimal level. (Sound familiar? The endocannabinoid system’s job is to maintain homeostasis!) Free radicals can damage the skin’s DNA causing accelerated aging. The free radical theory of aging (FRTA) states that organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time. Your skin is constantly under attack by free radicals that damage collagen and increase hyperpigmentation. Free radicals come from exposure to pollution, UV light, tobacco smoke, and other environmental stressors, and they have a general weakening effect on acne-prone skin. They attack your sebum and transform squalene into an acne causing form called squalene peroxide that triggers an increase in sebum production and dead cell turnover. The result is clogged pores and inflammatory acne, which brings us to the next known characteristic of CBD.
- CBD is an anti-inflammatory. How does inflammation manifest in the skin? Water retention, puffy skin; itchy ears or eyes; dark circles or bags under eyes; acne, cysts, hives or rashes; ruddy inflamed-looking skin; and flushing. Inflammation is a key factor in premature deterioration of the skin; avoid anything that causes redness, swelling, overheating, or irritation. Chronic inflammation of the skin can lead to a breakdown of collagen and elastin causing fine lines and wrinkles. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are useful in allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.
- CBD is anti-bacterial. Cannabis has long been known to have antibacterial properties and was studied in the 1950s as a treatment for tuberculosis and other diseases. Thus far, scientists have only examined the antibacterial properties of the plant in the laboratory.Yet, several of the plant’s active compounds have successfully beaten the dreaded methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
- CBD kills cancer cells. Cannabinoids, specifically CBD and THC decreased the proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis of melanoma.
Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the skin so CBD can be applied topically or taken internally. Please remember not to confuse CBD oil with hemp seed oil; there is no CBD in hemp seed oil (see my other article on hemp seeds at www.dearnursesusan.com).
The most severe skin disorder is Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) a genetic disorder that results in extremely fragile skin that blisters and peels off with the slightest friction. It is the most painful disease 24/7 from the moment of birth until death, usually before the age of 30. Here is a video of a child with EB. Topical cannabis is being used successfully by patients with EB. According to a 2018 report in the journal of Pediatric Dermatology one patient was weaned completely off oral opioid analgesics. All 3 reported faster wound healing, less blistering, and amelioration of pain with cannabidiol use. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuYxGtuBSgk
As the popularity and availability of CBD products is exploding, another consideration is product quality. Unfortunately there’s no easy answer on this topic. Whereas medical and recreational cannabis products (including CBD) will typically be lab tested and have the results available, this is not the case for beauty products. The best you can do is ask around, maybe check on the internet, etc. to get other customer’s comments and experience. Purchasing your CBD products from a store you trust is also a step toward ensuring a good product. And repeating what I said above, check the ingredients to ensure the product is uses CBD oil and not hemp seed oil; there is no CBD in hemp seed oil.
Clearly, CBD is good for the skin, medically and aesthetically, and it has an excellent safety profile. I believe we will be seeing lots of applications, including beauty, for CBD and all the other compounds in the cannabis plant. Lucky us!
To your health and your skin’s health,
(Susan Marks RN, BSN, PHN writes for CityWatch and is a medical cannabis educator and consultant based in Los Angeles. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)