CBD has become the latest beauty craze, and there have even been claims that it can treat acne and ease stress, but are these claims more hype than reality? In this post, we go beyond the hype to uncover the potential that CBD has to help with acne and anxiety.
CBD and the ECS
CBD is a non-psychoactive component of both hemp and marijuana, and studies show that it can interact with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies (ECS) in a way that promotes balance. The ECS regulates various immune, nervous and cardiovascular system functions within cells, and is made up of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 are the major ones), endocannabinoids and the enzymes that process them. Cannabinoid receptors are found all over our bodies, but CBD does not bind directly to them, instead it modifies their ability to bind to cannabinoids and it enhances the levels of our own naturally occurring endocannabinoids. When our ECS is activated by these endocannabinoids, it can prevent unnecessary immune responses, regulate normal skin barrier functions, and control inflammation.
CBD controls inflammation
Managing inflammation is one of the most important aspects of acne treatment. In this study, researchers established that “cannabinoids suppress inflammatory response…” and this provides a major benefit to acne sufferers as it reduces redness and swelling, which minimizes the appearance of acne and ensures that the pores stay open, allowing acne medication to penetrate more deeply to kill p acnes bacteria.
CBD balances oil production
CBD also prevents the overproduction of oil from the sebaceous glands. In fact, a recent study found that CBD “…behaves as a highly effective sebostatic agent.”(Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2014, Olah et al). Excess oil blocks pores and encourages bacterial proliferation. Therefore, balancing oil production is one of the key ways in which CBD can prevent breakouts.
CBD Reduces Stress
CBD also prevents acne holistically by reducing stress. In a 2011 study by Bergamaschi et al, 24 people with social anxiety received either a placebo or 600 mg of CBD before a public speaking test. The CBD group had significantly less anxiety than those in the placebo group. This is a positive breakthrough for acne sufferers as it will not only reduce their stress induced breakouts, but also boost their overall wellness, showing that CBD helps with both acne and anxiety.
CBD + your skin
So how do you begin using CBD to improve your skin? Start with consulting your ND/MD, as CBD can interact with some medications and you need to find out if it’s right for you. Once you get approval, you could go DIY and mix a little CBD oil with coconut oil to make your own moisturizer, or you could spot treat blemishes with pure CBD oil. You can also take CBD internally for systemic level results, which is a great approach if you need help with both acne and anxiety – ask your doctor about appropriate dosages.
Finding the right product
If you choose to buy CBD skincare products online or from a dispensary, be aware that the market for CBD topicals is still unregulated, so there’s no way to know how much, if any, CBD is in the product you’re buying. Marcel Bonn-Miller was the lead on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that uncovered a wide array of CBD products that were mislabelled. He recommends calling companies directly and asking how they ensure quality in their products and asking for current 3rd party lab test results. To help US and international readers get started, here are some quality CBD skin products and companies recommended by Dr. Jeanette Jacknin, a holistic dermatologist specializing in topical cannabinoids:
- Myaderm CBD Blemish Control – this company uses 3rd party testing from Denver based Botanacor labs to ensure the purity of their CBD (Marcel Bonn-Miller, JAMA research study lead, trusts Botanacor’s results)
- Apothecanna Everyday Face and Body Oil
- CBD for Life Pure CBD Eye Serum
- Cannuka CBD Eye Calming Balm
- Charlotte’s Web – they make their CBD oils and topicals in a facility adhering to the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Guidelines
Is CBD Legal in Canada?
In Canada, the legal landscape for CBD is different. Even though our country legalized recreational marijuana in October 2018, (medical marijuana has been legal here since 2001), CBD is still strictly regulated. The only legal way to currently buy it in Canada is to buy products made by a licenced producer and sold by a registered retailer. Many people think that CBD is legal because it doesn’t get you high like THC, but this is a misconception, says Trina Fraser, a cannabis lawyer at Ottawa firm Brazeau Seller LLP. But access to CBD products should expand when new regulations come into effect this October 2019 (rollout in December) giving retailers access to 3 new classes of cannabis products: 1. Topicals – skincare creams, oils, ointments + makeup 2. Edibles 3. Extracts
It will be exciting to see what CBD beauty products hit the Canadian market, as this dynamic derivative rises to the forefront of plant-based skincare. And it seems that our country has sparked a trend as more countries relax their marijuana laws, and as a result, I hope that we will see more of the research needed (especially human trials) to determine conclusively just how effective CBD is in treating acne and anxiety. But even as CBD has shown great potential to treat acne, please remember to consult a naturopath to determine the root causes of your acne, as there could be an underlying medical condition causing it (in my case it was hypothyroidism). In the meantime, preliminary studies have shown that CBD not only has amazing potential to help with acne, it can also increase wellness, and that’s a win for everyone.