Skin Deep

Can cannabis help my acne, or my eczema? What about my rosacea?

Drive-thru cannabis dispensary opens

Curaleaf, a cannabis dispensary, is open for business during its soft opening at Curaleaf's Doral location on Thursday, March 28, 2019.
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Curaleaf, a cannabis dispensary, is open for business during its soft opening at Curaleaf's Doral location on Thursday, March 28, 2019.

Cannabis (marijuana) and its components such as cannabidiol (CBD) have been a hot topic lately in the health and wellness space.

I get asked about it every day by my patients, so I have decided to review the most up-to-date information we have on cannabis for skin disease in my next two columns.

Spoiler alert — cannabis can help skin disease!

The issue is that research was illegal until recently and there are still many things that we do not know. For example, we don’t know which delivery method is best (oral, topical, sublingual).

Here is what we do know about the link between cannabis and common inflammatory skin diseases:

Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD is a component of marijuana but it is also derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. It does not cross the blood brain barrier and does not cause a “high.”

It exerts strong anti-inflammatory effects, and many forms are sold online without a prescription.

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Dr. Leslie Baumann Miami

The sale of CBD is legal since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp at the federal level. This has resulted in many forms of CBD on the market. The problem is, there is no way to know which forms are most effective to treat skin disease right now.

Cannabis and acne

A 2018 paper published in Skin Therapy Letter explains that CBD oil possesses strong anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant qualities, making it a beneficial ingredient for a number of inflammatory skin problems, including acne.

Not only does CBD help to reduce erythema (redness) associated with acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties, but it has also been shown to decrease the skin’s production of sebum, or oil.

One study found that a 3 percent cannabis seed extract cream effectively reduced both redness and sebum production in acne patients. There are many skin care products coming out that contain CBD.

Cannabis and eczema

Researchers have found that a different endocannabinoid called palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) has therapeutic qualities that relieve skin itching and dryness.

One study involving 25 children and 18 adults with atopic dermatitis (eczema) treated the skin with a combination of a palmitoylethanolamide cream and a topical corticosteroid. Participants who were treated with the PEA/corticosteroid combination saw a faster reduction of itching, dryness and redness, as well as a longer period of time before their next flare-up, compared with a control group treated with a regular moisturizer and corticosteroids.

Cannabis and rosacea

Few studies investigate the effects of CBD on rosacea, but we do know that CBD can effectively reduce redness caused by inflammation.

Based on current research, there is promising evidence that cannabis, in combination with the latest prescription treatments, could help to reduce rosacea flare-ups, similar to its positive effects on eczema flares.

Bottom line

We do know that cannabis, marijuana, and CBD oil possess anti-inflammatory properties and other beneficial qualities that could treat certain skin diseases. However, more research is needed to determine which delivery method and formulations are best.

Stay tuned for the next column for more information. If you’d like to join in on the discussion, come talk to us on Facebook or Instagram @BaumannCosmetic.

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