Acne vulgaris is the most common human skin disease. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil (sebum). It is characterized by blackheads or whiteheads, pimples, oily skin, and possible scarring. Acne is most prevalent in areas of the body with high oil production (face, chest, back) and is more of a problem in people with oily skin.
Acne is characterized by four factors:
- Excessive sebum production
- Abnormally rapid shedding of skin cells
- Overgrowth of Propionibacterium acnes (a bacteria)
The endocannabinoid system plays a key role in the regulation of sebum production. Oil glands (also called sebaceous glands) actually produce precursors to endocannabinoids which then act through CB2 receptors to activate these glands and increase sebum production. Because so many processes, including this one, are regulated by the endocannabinoid system, CBD becomes a promising treatment for acne.
How Can CBD Help With Acne?
Excessive sebum production: Excessive oil secretion (also called lipogenesis) can be reduced with CBD. CBD can normalize sebum production in human sebocytes as well as reduce the ability of the sebocytes to multiply. In one experiment, human sebocytes were exposed to a pro-acne drug, but CBD was able to return the oil production by these cells to normal levels.
Inflammation: As detailed in others sections, CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory molecule. In the specific case of acne, CBD works through TRPV4 receptors to reduce inflammation in the skin. CBD is also able to prevent the activation of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines which are increased in cases of acne.
Abnormal skin cell shedding: The abnormally rapid shedding of skin cells is also called follicular hyperkeratinization. Acne occurs when these excess cells clog the follicles (pores) of the skin. CBD has been shown to block the overproduction of these skin cells, which can help to prevent acne.
Overgrowth of P. acnes: While there haven’t been any studies which have looked at the effect of CBD on this particular strain of bacteria, there is evidence that CBD is antibacterial and can help to block microbial growth.
All in all, there is clear evidence that CBD can provide a ”unique trinity of anti-acne actions” without damaging skin cells 1) by normalizing pathologically elevated lipogenesis, 2) by suppressing skin cell proliferation, and 3) by preventing the elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. The current most common acne treatment (isotretinoin/Accutane/Roaccutane) causes severe side effects, making CBD (which is very safe to use) an attractive new option for the treatment of acne.
Studies to date have investigated systemic CBD as a treatment for acne (CBD taken orally), but there is interest in investigating topical applications of CBD for the treatment of acne as well. You can order a bottle of Wai Natural’s hemp oil to take orally and start helping to prevent problems with acne.