Hemp for skin health?

June 5, 2019

CBD oil may offer a spectrum of health benefits, including the treatment of skin disorders, but experts say claims are more anecdotal than scientific.

Marketing for anything with hemp is in high gear, fueled by Congress’s passage in December 2018 of the Agricultural Improvement Act, or farm bill, which legalizes production of hemp in all 50 states.

Hemp, according to a Washington Post article on the $867 billion farm bill, is a form of cannabis with lower THC levels than marijuana. The hemp industry could grow to $20 billion by 2022, according to the article.

Companies are touting CBD oil, a hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), for a spectrum of health benefits including the treatment of skin disorders. But the claims are more anecdotal than scientific. It’s hard to find published studies proving CBD is safe and effective. Still dermatologists and others think there’s something to this so-called remedy.

“It’s true, CBD has gone mainstream and is now frequently referred to as a ‘cure-all’ by scientists, doctors and users alike - all because of numerous health challenges that are showing very positive improvements,” says Tina Alster, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC.

As a result of the farm bill that legalizes CBD, a non-psychoactive (no “high” or intoxicating effect) naturally-occurring compound found in the cannabis plant, each state is responsible for crafting respective legislation to manage the production and sale of CBD within its borders, says Dr. Alster.

CBD for Health Conditions

According to Dr. Alster, some believe that CBD may have a positive impact on a variety of health concerns and conditions including chronic pain, joint Inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, memory, nausea, neurological disorders, skin disorders and more. The most scientific evidence for using CBD, however, is in the treatment of some childhood epilepsy syndromes. Studies also suggest that CBD may help with sleep and pain, author Peter Grinspoon, M.D., writes in an August 24, 2018, Harvard Health blog.

CBD for Skin Health

CBD oil has an anti-inflammatory property, which can benefit the skin, and it can also reduce oil production, provide moisture and relieve pain and itching, according to Dr. Alster.

“Topical CBD is safe and works effectively for all skin types. The products are easy to administer. Sufferers of serious medical skin conditions and those who are seeking innovative skincare options can benefit from topical CBD use,” Dr. Alster says. “Anti-inflammatory properties associated with CBD are beneficial in treating such dermatologic conditions as acne, psoriasis and eczema due to reduction of dryness, irritation and redness. CBD-containing creams, oils, gels and serums not only moisturize and soothe the skin but are also showing encouraging results in relieving pain caused by certain skin disorders.”

CBD has shown that it exerts antioxidant activity. This could position CBD oil as a treatment that repairs skin from free radicals, which may help to smooth wrinkles and reduce breakouts and blemishes, according to Dr. Alster.

“In addition, CBD-containing products are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which improve overall skin appearance and provide a more youthful glow,” she says.

Topical CBD is considered safe and has no known adverse side effects, according to Dr. Alster.

Dr. Grinspoon writes in his blog that cannabidiol use can result in nausea, fatigue and irritability.

“CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements,” explains Dr. Grinspoon.

CBD is being tested in numerous laboratories around the world for its health-enhancing properties and its effects on a plethora of diseases and conditions, according to Dr. Alster.

“The CBD skincare industry is still very young, so further research and experimentation is needed,” she says.

Disclosures:

Dr. Alster reports no relevant conflicts of interest.