Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is generated by the thinning of CBD extracts with carrier oils such as hemp seed oil.
CBD is a phytocannabinoid obtained from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) and has the ability to moderate a variety of bodily responses by binding to specific receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
CBD is not psychoactive and has been proven to confer several health benefits.
Overview of Acne
Acne vulgaris, popularly called acne, is a long-lasting skin condition that is a result of hair follicles getting clogged with dead skin cells and excess oil from the skin.
It usually gets manifested as whiteheads/blackheads, pimples, and even scarring. Acne occurs in areas which are rich in sebaceous (oil) glands, particularly the face.
Benefits of CBD in Acne
The benefits of CBD in acne are mainly linked with its ability to lower inflammation and excess oil secretion. It prevents the excessive proliferation of cells secreting oily and waxy substances in the skin. CBD is also very specific and only acts on target cells without producing any unwanted side effects.
CBD also lowers redness and itchiness which are the hallmarks of severe acne. It treats the skin without excessively drying it out. CBD is an excellent antioxidant and protects the skin from oxidative damage. It also acts as an analgesic and lowers pain and discomfort.
1. CBD Oil Is Anti-inflammatory
Acne vulgaris typically affects around 80% of adolescents and young adults and, if left unmonitored, can remain well into adulthood.
It generally leads to severe scarring and hyperpigmentation (extreme darkening) of the skin.
Acne lesions (damaged areas) usually develop around the oil glands which are susceptible to bacterial invasion and host-cell inflammatory response.
Conventionally, researchers thought that bacterial invasion of the sebum follicles by Propionibacterium acnes resulted in an innate immune response from the host cells which led to the development of inflammation and the formation of comedones.
These later gave rise to acne pustules.
However, modern research has provided several lines of evidence suggesting that the process of inflammation might exist throughout the lifetime of the acne lesion, even prior to the formation of the comedones.
Herein, inflammation is a localized physical condition which causes redness, swelling, itching, and even pain.
Excessive sebum (oil/wax) production coupled with an unusually high production of the outermost skin cells (keratinocytes) leads to the development of a microcomedo i.e., the precursor to acne.
Further deposition of waxy substances, increase of the skin pore due to inflammation, and build-up of other chemicals leads to the formation of acne comedones i.e., clogged skin pores.
The earliest evidence proving the significance of an initial inflammatory response in the spread of acne was provided by the researchers Norris and Cunliffe in a 1988 study wherein they examined the constituents of early acne lesions, including some which were between 6 to 72 hours old.
Recent studies have also implicated at the occurrence of inflammatory events in the early development of acne lesions.
In fact, these studies have found elevated levels of specific immune cells in the dermis (second layer of the skin) which are similar in nature to those seen in fully formed acne pustules (bulging patches).
Hence, an appropriate therapeutic measure must have an overall anti-inflammatory effect, rather than simply being an antibacterial agent.
The recent findings on cannabinoids have shown that they have immense potential in treating the problem of acne.
A 2014 study by the University of Debrecen has shown that CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect on the oil-secreting sebaceous glands and also halts the excess proliferation of such cells (sebocytes).
Cannabidiol also inhibits the action of several compounds like arachidonic acid, which promote the proliferation of sebocytes.
As CBD oil lowers inflammation in the skin and prevents the excess secretion of oil, it can be used to effectively reduce acne.
2. CBD Oil Acts Only on Target Cells
There are several treatments for acne vulgaris.
The most popular medications include those which are applied directly on the skin, such as topical benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics, topical salicylic acid, and topical retinoids (derived from Vitamin A) as well as oral medicines like oral antibiotics, hormone pills, and isotretinoin.
Procedural therapies, such as light and laser therapies, are used in severe cases to prevent scarring.
Although these methods have proven to be effective and provide numerous benefits for the management and treatment of acne, they also have side effects which can affect the skin or other bodily functions.
Some of these side effects can be easily dealt with while others might be severe enough to warrant lower dosage.
Overdosing of topical creams containing benzoyl peroxide might excessively dry out the skin.
The most common side effects include a feeling of warmth and mild stinging at the site of application. The skin might become red and irritated and, in severe cases, can swell up and even appear to be scaly.
Acne is often caused due to an imbalance in the hormonal levels, particularly in women.
Hence, many healthcare providers prescribe birth control pills to regulate hormone levels in order to treat acne. However, if the dosage is incorrect, such medications can lead to blood clots. Individuals can also develop melasma wherein the skin develops dark patches.
Researchers are trying to develop acne medications which have no side effects.
A 2017 review by the Seoul National University College of Medicine stated that cannabidiol has shown promise as a therapeutic agent against acne as it prevents the proliferation of sebocytes and only acts against the target cells.
In fact, it has been applied to clinical practice without any notable side effects.
As CBD oil acts only against the proliferation of the target cells in the skin, it doe not produce any unwarranted side effects and can be easily used to manage acne.
3. CBD Oil Reduces Redness and Itching
Individuals suffering from acne vulgaris often experience redness in the affected areas.
This often happens when the acne pustules are large enough and filled with waxy substances like sebum.
Environmental conditions couple with lifestyle-related stress can enhance the secretion of oil and worsen the condition of the acne.
The reddened areas include the skin around the jawline, on the forehead, and in some cases, across the cheeks.
Such pustules are usually quite painful and require the direct topical application of gels, creams, or ointments coupled with oral administration of medications to manage.
As mentioned earlier, excessive use of topical ointments can often leave the skin excessively dry and flaky.
Such flaky skin can peel off easily and cause uncontrollable itching. However, scratching the affected skin will only cause more damage and inevitably lead to irreversible scarring.
For instance, a 2011 internet-based survey organized by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine showed that a large proportion of individuals using an antibiotic like clindamycin reported dryness and severe itching.
Hence, it can be seen that both the acne itself and the treatment regimens can lead to redness and itching which can cause scars by hindering the ability of the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) to heal itself properly.
Extensive studies have been conducted to develop therapeutic measures that can lower these complications associated with acne.
Recently, phytocannabinoids like CBD have emerged popular in the treatment of acne because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties.
Furthermore, they have also shown potential in preventing excessive redness and itching in the affected areas.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology stated that cannabinoids like CBD exert a calming effect on the skin and reduce inflammation which is one of the primary reasons that contribute to reddening.
It also heals the skin by preventing the excess secretion of oil without drying out the skin. Therefore, it acts as an excellent remedy for itching.
As CBD oil helps in lowering inflammation, it prevents the redness associated with acne and also avoids the drying out of the skin. Hence, it can be used to manage acne.
4. CBD Oil Is an Antioxidant
Conventionally, acne has been marked by excessive sebum (oil) production, increased production of skin cells like keratocytes, and breaking of the outer layer of the skin which resulted in an increase in the release of the mediators of the inflammatory response such as cytokines (signalling molecules).
The bacterial invasion has been thought to trigger these processes.
Extensive research has shown that components which cause oxidative damage, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxide (LPO), might play significant roles in the pathogenesis of such bacteria and in the worsening of the skin condition.
During the development of a ROS, oxygen will obtain an unpaired (single) electron, thus forming a free radical, which is highly reactive as it has a propensity to pair off the free electron.
These free radicals are responsible for the production of peroxides which cause oxidative damage by several biological processes.
The skin is particularly susceptible to the resultant oxidative damage, as it is frequently exposed to such free radical-induced oxidative stress which is generated both from internal (metabolism) and environmental (radiation) sources.
The involvement of oxidative damage in the major complications associated with acne has proved that ROS plays a major role in the initiation of inflammation in the glands linked with sebum production.
Thus, the composition of the oily sebum gets changed due to lipid peroxidation i.e., degradation of fats by free radicals like peroxides.
ROS production affects the texture and the nature of the sebum. In fact, the excessive production of sebum triggers the further generation of ROS.
As a result, the follicles and pores of the skin suffer from oxidative stress which overcomes the natural antioxidant system of the skin.
ROS such as the peroxides which degrade the fats of the sebum is also suspected to promote the amplified proliferation of the keratocytes. As a result, acne comedones are formed and develop into reddened pustules.
In order to treat acne, treatment procedures must include antioxidants that destroy the ROS.
A 1998 study by National Institutes of Mental Health stated that CBD exerts an anti-oxidative effect and can help in lowering oxidative stress in the body cells. As a result, it can prevent lipid peroxidation taking place in acne.
CBD oil is an excellent antioxidant and, coupled with its anti-inflammatory properties, can be used to prevent the oxidative damage that initiates acne.
5. CBD Oil Reduces Pain
Another major complication associated with the progression of acne vulgaris is the pain. Many individuals have reported experiencing pain when the acne pustules have become large enough.
The inflamed red pustules often hurt and it is often difficult to apply topical medications without experiencing a stinging sensation.
The sensation can range from a dull discomfort to severe pain, especially in the face. As a result, it often affects the quality of life.
Pain is also a consequence that follows the sensation of itching. Upon scratching the affected region, the skin condition might get aggravated and the skin might get peeled off which will definitely cause pain.
Another kind of pain reported by individuals with acne is that which occurs when they are exposed to sunlight.
While sunburn itself affects the skin by causing redness and itching in individuals with healthy skin, people with acne are more susceptible to the effects of sunlight, which is a source of UV-radiation.
The redness gets aggravated when exposed to sunlight and people experience an increase in discomfort.
As a result, studies are being conducted to improve the quality of the skin and reduce pain in people suffering from severe acne.
A 2017 study published in the journal, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, stated that CBD oil acts as an analgesic as it can interact with the pain-sensing receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and reduce the pain caused due to inflammation.
Hence, it can lower the stinging sensation associated with acne.
As CBD oil helps in lowering pain and inflammation, it can be effectively used to treat acne.
It is advisable to consult a medical practitioner before consuming medications containing THC.
There is no prescribed dosage for using CBD oil to treat acne completely. Individuals interested in using CBD oil should start with small doses of 10-20mg topically (on the skin).
Oral pills can also be had to address any underlying causes. In such cases, individuals should start with 30-40mg per day before increasing dosage as per tolerance levels.
The plant-derived cannabinoid, CBD, has very few side-effects. In fact, daily oral doses of up to 500mg can be had for up to half a year.
A 2011 review revealed that even high doses of 1500mg can be tolerated per day for a period of up to 3 months without producing any unwanted complications.
CBD products usually contain fluctuating amounts of the psychotropic agent, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for any side-effects.
While the quantity of THC permitted in medicinal products is quite low (0.03%) but sensitive individuals might still experience the hallucinatory effect.
CBD inhibits the activity of cytochrome p450, a class of liver enzymes responsible for metabolizing drugs and therefore, CBD usage reduces efficacies of certain medications.
Medicines containing an excess of THC might cause confusion, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, fatigue, impaired balance, hallucinations, and paranoia.
They might also cause tachycardia, a condition wherein the heart rate gets rapidly raised for a short duration.
Cannabis products which have a moderate amount of THC should not be accompanied by alcohol.
To summarize, it can be said that CBD oil confers several benefits to people suffering from acne vulgaris. It lowers inflammation and proliferation of sebocytes which are the reasons behind the progression of acne.
It only acts on the target cells and prevents any unwanted side effects.
CBD oil also lowers redness, drying, and itchiness associated with acne and several conventional acne treatments.
It is an antioxidant and hence, prevents oxidative damage of the skin by peroxides. Finally, it also helps in lowering the pain and discomfort felt by people with acne.