“The rise of adult acne is ‘like an epidemic’.” - 2016, interview of chief dermatologist at a London clinic published in London’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
In a study of 92 private dermatology clinics in England, researchers found a 200% increase in visits by adults seeking acne treatment. Previously this condition was only considered a disease in adolescence, but has now become the most common skin disease on Earth. Just as science has caught on to the fact that acne is becoming more widespread among the adult population, it has also grasped the role of the cannabis plant and the endocannabinoid system in bringing relief to the condition.
Acne develops due to dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system’s ability to regulate oil levels of the skin and the resulting bacteria and dead skin that blocks and inflames the pores leading to whiteheads, blackheads or pimples.
A Harvard report  states that hormones, stress, and the menstrual cycle in women can influence oil production in the skin, resulting in acne, as can hair, skincare, and makeup products, which can clog pores. Another important factor is diet; which can either increase or decrease inflammation in the body. Some medications including corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, and lithium, can also cause acne in some people.
The report went on to state that, “many skin disorders, including acne, can be a window into a systemic condition. For example, hair loss, excess hair growth, irregular menstrual cycles, or rapid weight gain or loss in addition to acne, or rapid onset of acne with no prior history of acne, can all be red flags of an underlying disease, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, or other endocrine disorders. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing additional symptoms; he or she may recommend further evaluation.”
Given the fact that the endocannabinoid system oversees the healthy functioning of the endocrine and reproductive system (and all other systems), is it not wonder then that skin disorders "can be a window into a systemtic condition". The skin is usually the last place internal dysfunction in the body presents itself. If the chaos is bubbling to the surface of the skin, it's worth taking a look under the hood; and supporting the ECS so it can go to work on doing it's job - to restore balance, order, and healthy functioning both inside and outside the body.
Dr Tamas Biro, a Hungarian researcher, has spent over a decade examining the role of the endocannabinoid system in the development of acne.  In a 2008 study, Dr Biro along with his research team of scientists, published a paper that directly linked endocannabinoid system (ECS) dysfunction as one of the leading causes of acne. They discovered that endocannabinoid dysregulation results in the aberrant sebocyte behavior in the sebaceous glands that lead to acne. Sebocytes have control over oil (lipid) production in the sebaceous cells (skin cells), which moisturizes and protects the skin. When dysfunctional and dysregulated, these sebocytes spread and then die, which clogs the pores (sebaceous glands). Bacteria then take over and spread, forming a pustule in the blocked gland. In other words, puss filled, red, inflamed pimples across the skin, aka acne. For more information, read The Endocannabinoid System Explained, and CBD products for Skin Conditions; Psoriasis, Eczema, Acne.
Dr Biro and his research group discovered that the cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD), delivers a “holy trinity of anti-acne activity.”  CBD does this by bringing balance and order to the skin through modulating sebocyte function within the sebaceous gland. When sebocyte function is modulated by CBD, it prevents the overproduction of sebum (a compound that leads to acne). CBD stops the spread (proliferation) of sebocytes, but it doesn’t kill them, instead, it delivers potent anti-inflammatory activity, even in the presence of potent “pro-acne” inflammatory agents.  With results like these, CBD promises to be a powerful “non-irritating” treatment in the war against the adult acne epidemic. See our article, 8 CBD Product Benefits.
The endocannabinoid system is a rather newly discovered molecular system of the body that has been found to control all aspects of the mind-body experience. It is finely tuned to aid in supporting the health of major bodily systems such as the endocrine, lymphatic, cardiovascular, and reproductive system. The endocannabinoid system in the skin controls all aspects of the dysregulation and dysfunction that occurs in acne. Dr Ethan Russo, in his 2017 review  of the many active compounds discovered in cannabis, found evidence of the terpene limonene’s ability to improve the effectiveness and potency of CBD in treating acne. When combining CBD and limonene, such as by picking the right plant strain containing both compounds, or adding the terpene to a CBD blend, they provide effective for yet another reason; they are both potent anti-inflammatories. As is another terpene, called beta-caryophyllene, when utilized with CBD. For more, see our article on Full Spectrum Extract, The Ultimate Guide to Terpenes, and Cannabinoids in Hemp.
Medical disclaimer: the information contained in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, has not been evaluated by the food and drug administration, and is for informational purposes only. Prior to making small changes to your lifestyle or skin care treatment plan, always consult with your doctor.
A cannabis product that contains a CBD to THC ratio of 20:1 or higher would be ideal, although in saying that, THC is also a potent anti-inflammatory capable of facilitating healing of the skin on its own as a concentrated oil. Topical products containing high-CBD are available more now than they’ve ever been, pending the country in which you reside and the federal and state laws. Topical CBD may prove of value for a large range of skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, acne, excessive hair growth, skin bacterial infections such as staph (MRSA), and some precancerous lesions. Cannabis strains containing the terpenes limonene, beta-caryophyllene, or pinene are recommended due to their aforementioned synergistic effects for increasing potency and effectiveness of the treatment. For more information, see our article on CBD for Staph (MRSA), Hemp for Hair Growth, and Cannabis for Cancer.
CBD has been shown in both animal and human cell laboratory studies to reduce healing time, which may prove CBD as beneficial in the healing of acne scars. CBD can also help to boost collagen levels, cell turnover, and regeneration, all of which can assist with tissue healing.
The cannabis compound known as cannabidiol (CBD) has recently been added to lotions, balms, soaps, creams and other skincare products for its ability to help clear acne, restore and balance healthy skin complexion, and it may even assist with reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
From the research available thus far we’ve discovered CBD oil contains potent anti-inflammatory agents that when applied to the skin can provide the basis for anti-acne treatments that work; helping to calm down inflamed, red, bumpy skin for a more balanced complexion.
Full spectrum CBD oils are high vitamin E and essential fatty acids that help to nourish the scalp and strengthen the hair and skin, encouraging hair growth. This includes omega-3 and omega-6, which can assist in improving the quality of scalp tissue.
Researchers believe that CBD may play a role in hydrating the skin through working with and through the endocannabinoid system to restore dysfunction in the skin; the body’s largest organ. CBD is also an anti-inflammatory and possesses antibacterial properties that can also help prevent acne breakouts, and treat dry skin or other inflammatory skin disorders such as psoriasis or eczema.
For more information on how natural CBD products can provide benefits for relieving a skin condition that involves itchy skin like psoriasis or eczema, including side effects, and their anti-inflammatory properties, read our free articles on Psoriasis & Eczema, Hair Growth, Skin Conditions, and more.
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