Is it legal?
There are two main varieties of cannabis – cannabis sativa (also known as marijuana, dagga, boom, and a bunch of other names) and cannabis indica (also known as hemp). Hemp is legally grown around the world and used in many industrial products, including textiles. The main active molecule in marijuana is THC, or tetrahydrocannabidiol, a psychoactive molecule that makes you high. Hemp on the other hand, may not legally contain more than 0.03% THC but is otherwise identical. Its main active molecule is CBD, or cannabidiol. CBD has no psychoactive activity but does have many health benefits, the one of interest to us here is skincare. In August last year the DOH downgraded CBD from Schedule 6 to Schedule 4, for internal, therapeutic purposes, ie it is available from doctors on prescription.
We recently launched a CBD Cream with 100mg of hemp-derived CBD, per 50ml jar, specifically for skincare applications. It is not intended as a medicine, to treat or cure any conditions, but more for general skin well-being and not for internal use. It is currently only available through our medical stockists.
So why does CBD have health benefits?
The Endocannabinoid system, or ECM, is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout our central nervous system (including the brain) and peripheral nervous system. It was only discovered in the late 80’s and unfortunately, due to legal constraints, formal research has only recently started, to figure out the real value of compounds like CBD. This recent blog has helped awareness on just how effective CBD can be for the treatment of eczema, an otherwise difficult skin condition to treat.
The skin produces endocannabinoid molecules such as anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG. These endocannabinoids are constantly released in specific amounts, depending on the “healthy need” of the organ, resulting in the skin’s ‘cannabinoid tone’. Since these endocannabinoids can cross the blood-brain barrier, they are able to act on areas of the brain too. Some of us are aware of anandamide, which is produced following strenuous exercise. In the case of anandamide, it produces a euphoric effect, sometimes known as “runner’s high”. Not surprising then that CBD is finding application in treating a multitude of mental and nervous system conditions, such as depression and epilepsy.
The two main receptors in the ECM, are CB1 and CB2, discovered and cloned in the early 90’s. THC binds directly to these receptors, whereas CBD seems to influence them without direct binding. CBD is the mimetic phytocannabinoid of 2-AG, ie CBD functions in exactly the same way as 2-AG, even though it is derived from a plant.
CBD from marijuana, is exactly the same as CBD from hemp
CBD and your skin
Excitingly, CB1 and CB2 receptors have been found in almost every cell type in the skin, from the epidermis, to the dermis to the hypodermis. Endocannabinoid molecules are synthesized by several cell types in the epidermis, hair follicles and sebaceous glands. The skin’s cannabinoid tone constantly affects all compartments of the skin, as endocannabinoids act on various cell types and contribute to their healthy physiological function. Let’s look at just a few:
These cells dominate the epidermis and eventually mature and die, forming the “dead” skin surface layer called the stratum corneum. In the process they move to the skin surface and are sloughed off as new keratinocytes are born in the basal layer of the epidermis. This process, in a healthy, young skin, takes on average 27 days. The role of keratinocytes is extremely important since they produce the enzymes and lipids necessary for a healthy skin barrier, hydration and protection from outside dangers. CBD induces the birth of keratinocytes and then, as they mature and differentiate, it assists in switching on the production of key skin elements – enzymes, lipids, filaggrin etc. When keratinocytes mature and start dying, CBD assists them to commit suicide, forming corneocytes in the process. This cellular turnover is vital for a healthy skin. CBD also appears to reduce the growth of keratinocytes that are growing too quickly, that would normally lead to a build-up of scaly cell layers.
The skin has its own immune system that constantly protects against bacteria, viruses, allergens and other external factors. This system is composed of various immune cell types which either reside inside the skin or ‘invade’ it when danger is sensed. Most importantly, all other skin cell types can join the skin’s immune system to protect and heal the organ when necessary. However, sometimes these immune cells are over-stimulated, leading to inflammation and other skin conditions, such as psoriasis. CBD modulated these immune cells, especially those that are over active and may therefore play a key role in treating inflammatory skin conditions.
Each part of the skin is supplied by a huge, dense network of nerve fibres. Sensory nerve endings recognize practically all types of stimuli, which result in the tactile sensations of heat, cold, pressure, vibration, pain and itch. Because of these versatile functions, the skin is considered the largest sensory organ. CBD appears to reduce the sensitivity of hyperactive sensory cells and is especially effective in reducing itching and pain sensations.
The physiological cannabinoid tone is also key to the healthy biology of the sebaceous glands. When endocannabinoids or their receptors are not properly produced or functioning, the glands are unable to secrete enough lipid-containing sebum and the waterproof skin barrier may be weakened, increasing the potential for microbes to invade the body. If the cannabinoid tone of the glands is kept in balance, it contributes to homeostasis and healthy skin. And, CBD appears to decrease excessive sebum production too.
unhealthy activity of the skin’s cannabinoid tone likely contributes to the development of highly-prevalent conditions including acne, dry skin, inflammation, eczema and psoriasis
Endocannabinoid deficiency and dysregulation are thought to contribute to a wide array of human diseases. It can be inferred that unhealthy activity of the skin’s cannabinoid tone likely contributes to the development of highly-prevalent conditions including acne, dry skin, inflammation, eczema and psoriasis. CBD is likely to contribute in the future to the treatment of these and other conditions. Our CBD cream is formulated to address all skin conditions relating to poor barrier function, especially eczema and psoriasis. We only use ultra-pure CO2 extracted CBD, legally imported from the USA and we combine CBD with a soothing dipeptide (N-Acetyl-Tyrosyl-Arginyl-Hexadecyl Ester) that is naturally produced in the body.
Acne is notorious for being difficult to treat. It often involves the use of retinoids and antibiotics. The acneic skin also tends to become hyper keratolytic, causing dead skin cells to not shed effectively and leading to blocked follicles. This leads to an increase in bacteria and inflammation which causes pimples. Retinoids help by improving the cell turnover which prevents the follicle from getting blocked. Unfortunately, retinoids can make the skin very sensitive and it is often difficult for the patient to stay compliant when using retinoids in the long run. They have many side-effects too. CBD is proving clinically to have a similar effect as retinoids, ie it improves cell differentiation, speeds up the production of new healthy cells and encourages the differentiation and shedding of cells from the skin. CBD also reduces the over production of sebum. Its anti-inflammatory effect improve acne lesions and prevent scarring associated with acne.
CBD shows much of the same activity we associate with vitamin A, the gold standard in skincare. But without the sideffects
Rosacea is another complex skin disease that can be improved with the use of topical CBD. Rosacea is a chronic, incurable inflammatory skin disease that is characteriseds and the long-term complications of those flare ups by improving skin barrier function and reducing inflammation. Rosacea also affects the texture of the skin significantly, so by recommending CBD topically, which has a similar effect in improving cell proliferation as retinoids do, we will improve the texture of the skin in the long run. The use of retinoids is often recommended for rosacea, but due to its sensitizing effect may be uncomfortable for the patient to use. CBD is also highly anti-inflammatory and will reduce the inflammation in a skin prone to rosacea. There are various clinical subtypes of rosacea, and papulopustular rosacea can present with acne like pustules that can cause severe scarring. It is, therefore, necessary to reduce excess sebum production, which CBD does.
Eczema and Psoriasis
CBD has similar benefits for skins that suffer from eczema and psoriasis and is, therefore, an excellent topical product to use for any skin that is affected by poor skin barrier function. It is best combined with our Micellar Cleanser for Sensitive Skin, Deep Cleansing Oil, Bio-Enzyme Gel and Green Tea Serum, all of which assist CBD in drastically improving the skin.