What is Hemp and how is that related to CBD?
Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa, an ancient plant species that has been used over centuries for medicinal purposes. The cannabis sativa plant consists of two varieties: cannabis, which contains high levels of THC, and hemp, which contains high levels of CBD.
Hemp oil contains high levels of CBD, while hempseed oil contains slightly lower levels. Both hemp and hemp seed oil contain negligible amounts of THC.
While THC has long been recognized for its recreational use as marijuana, the role of CBD for medical purposes has become more clear as the stigma around CBD, hemp and THC have been reduced and scientific study has been encouraged. Further research on the role of CBD will continue to help in understanding its role in the skin.
What role does CBD play in the skin?
The human body makes several cannabinoids, or cannabis related molecules, and skin cells in particular have a high number of cannabinoid receptors. The body’s naturally produced cannabinoids are termed endocannabinoids, and these molecules are able to activate cannabinoid receptors and lead to many different processes in the skin. Cannabinoid receptors can be found in skin cells, oil glands, and nerve cells in the skin.
Is hemp the way to achieve clear skin?
Hemp and hemp oil should not have any mood-altering effects due to negligible amounts of THC found in these products. Hemp and hemp formulations vary and may contain additional ingredients to enhance the stability or potency of the product. Any new hemp or hemp-based product should be tested on a small area of skin before use on larger areas. This can help determine if there are any sensitivities or allergies to the product.
For individuals specifically with dry skin conditions such as eczema or sensitive skin, it is very important to perform this skin test prior to general use. For most adult individuals without significant skin disease, hemp and hemp-based products are likely safe for topical use in non-sensitive areas of the skin.
Most individuals consider the use of hemp oil when they notice dry skin. Dry skin is caused by aging, lack of moisturizer, overuse of drying products, use of harsh soaps, and more. Many individuals suffer from dry skin in combination with eczema, which is an inflammatory skin condition that produces red, flaking patches that are often extremely itchy.
Hemp skin care products can reduce dryness in the skin by reducing inflammation and normalizing oil production for skin hydration, along with reducing itch caused by dry, flaking skin.
For individuals with dry skin, eczema or even psoriasis, hemp-based products may offer a complement to standard therapies or a potential stand alone therapy in mild cases. Individuals with these conditions who are considering using hemp-based topical products should consult with a board certified dermatologist prior to starting a new product.
Certain prescription topical creams used to treat dermatitis may interact with hemp-based products so consultation with a dermatologist can be helpful.
Hemp-based products are also often used by individuals struggling with acne. Hemp acne cream can normalize oil secretion and reduce pimple formation. Acne is caused by excess oil production in the sebaceous gland, which then clogs the pores with oil and skin cells which build up and cause acne. Acne is also caused by skin inflammation which can worsen with hormones, medications or supplements.
There is evidence that oil glands contain cannabinoid receptors and that products such as hemp and hemp-based products can improve skin oil production. Hemp products may reduce skin inflammation and normalize oil production to reduce acne formation and improve the tone and texture of the skin.
Individuals with acne who are considering using hemp-based topical products should consult with a board certified dermatologist prior to starting a new product. Certain prescription topical creams used to treat dermatitis may interact with hemp-based products so consultation with a dermatologist can be helpful. Further, some hemp formulations may be heavy and worsen acne, rather than improving it.
Hemp and hemp-based formulations have also been evaluated for their anti-aging properties. The science behind aging is evolving and it is believed that hemp products may reduce wrinkles and inflammation in the skin.
Skin inflammation can lead to degradation of collagen, which causes a sunken appearance and signs of aging. By reducing this inflammation, hemp and hemp formulations may promote more youthful, supple skin. Hemp also contains numerous antioxidants due to the presence of terpenes and other compounds in these plants.
Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals in the skin, which are caused by pollution, photodamage and product use. Antioxidants ultimately lead to signs of skin aging such as fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots. It is possible that the antioxidant properties of hemp may help improve the appearance of aging skin. As discussed before, any new anti-aging product should be evaluated with a dermatologist who can recommend use based on individual skin factors.
What is the future of hemp and hemp-based skin products?
The future is exciting for hemp and hemp-based products, particularly in skin care. As the stigma around hemp is reduced, and research increases, there will likely be much more to learn about how hemp promotes skin health. There have been very small studies suggesting that hemp may decrease the risks of sun damage and promote more clear, even skin.
The role of hemp in inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis will continue to evolve and it is likely that cannabinoid based topical therapies tested in clinical trials will become available in the future for these conditions. Hemp-based products are a growing area of skin care and the future will bring more insight into the use of these products to achieve clear, healthy skin.
About the Author
Sheila Krishna MD is a board certified dermatologist. She practices general dermatology and has an interest in inflammatory skin conditions and skin cancer treatment.
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