CBD and the Endocannabinoid System in Skin Care

How CBD can benefit your skin


What Is CBD?

CBD is the one of the 130 plus cannabinoids that have been found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis sativa can be labeled either as hemp or marijuana. In the US as of April, 2019, marijuana is defined as having more than .3% THC.

First isolated from Cannabis in 1940 by Roger Adams, the structure of CBD was not completely understood until 1963. Early studies resulted in the accepted view that THC was the ‘active’ principle of Cannabis, and research then focused primarily on it, to the virtual exclusion of CBD. This was no doubt due to the belief that activity meant psycho-activity that was shown by THC and not by CBD. In retrospect, this was unfortunate, since a number of actions of CBD with potential therapeutic benefit were downplayed for many years.

CBD is the predominant cannabinoid that we have discovered as of today. We are at the forefront of a whole new science, biochemistry, and industry.

What is the difference between CBD and THC?

The difference between CBD and THC is only one methyl group! But the effects are very different. CBD does not have psychoactive properties to make you feel high or stoned, where THC is used for a high spiritual or mystical experience.  CBD is used more for it’s medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties.

What is the endocannabinoid system and how does CBD affect it?

The endocannabinoid system exists in our body to receive cannabinoids our own body makes, such as anandamide. The Cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors are usually the ones involved with THC euphoria, but are also in the skin.   The Canabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors are usually involved with the medicinal qualities of CBD and THC.

CB1 receptors are found mainly in the brain, but are also found in the skin, whereas CB2 receptors are mainly found in the skin, spleen, stomach, liver, bones and immune cells and respond to CBD and many other cannabinoids. CBD is where most of  the anti-inflammatory, pain relieving properties of cannabis reside.

In 2015, Mauro Maccarrone’s multi-national study showed that many parts of the skin’s cells are part of the peripheral endocannabinoid system with CB1 and CB2 receptors.

How can a consumer tell what dosage is right for them when using topical products?

Each individual responds to topical and oral CBD differently. So it’s best to start with the recommended dosage or number of times the cream is to be applied, and then go up on frequency depending on results.

What are the main benefits of CBD topicals? Who are they best for? Not best for?

As of today, we are just beginning to understand the benefits of topical CBD. So far, 3 international studies in mice and humans with acne and seborrheic dermatitis, 2 in anti-aging ,7 studies in eczema, 2 in itch, 5 in psoriasis, and 3 in allergic contact dermatitis, and wounds have been done with positive results using topical CBD. Many more clinical studies will be done now that interest is so high.

Why are some brands marketing products as CBD when they only contain cannabis sativa seed oil or hemp oil?

The hemp, marijuana, and CBD industries are currently unregulated in the U.S.. Buyers have to get educated regarding the difference between CBD and hemp seed oil and beware of misleading names and claims.

I’ve heard some derms are using CBD topicals in-office after treatments like peels and lasers to help take down inflammation and expedite healing. What are your thoughts on this?

I think this would be very helpful clinically and that the results would be good.

Things are changing so rapidly since the Farm Bill passed late last year! In January 2019 Neiman Marcus begun carrying a number of the cannabis industry’s leading CBD brands online and in five stores, as did Barney’s Beverly Hills. The upscale CBD Store “ Standard Dose”  ” opened in Manhattan- all products third party tested, which is important! Ulta and Sephora are now starting to carry CBD skin care lines as well.

In trying to discern if a brand is good I would look for a Certificate of Analysis or COA on the label, see how many mg of CBD/oz or ml they say they have and look on the ingredient list on the back. If CBD is listed near the top of the ingredient list, the product should contain a higher percentage of CBD than if it is listed near the bottom of the list.