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Is CBD really good for skin?

Updated: Aug 31, 2019

The CBD boom is here! I am seeing CBD in all kind of products from bath bombs to facial cleansers. While there is mounting evidence that CBD taken internally helps a wide range of ailments like anxiety and chronic pain, can CBD really benefit your body if used topically?

First, just a quick reminder on what CBD is. CBD (cannabediol) is a chemical compound that is found in certain plants, with hemp and marijuana being the most commonly used for extraction. CBD is a chemical part of the plant, but is not the chemical property that gets you high. THC, on the other hand, is the chemical compound that has the psychotropic effects. Every system in our bodies has cannabinoid receptors that react in the presence of cannabinoids. The goal of cannabinoids when combined with the receptors is always to achieve homeostasis, or a normal healthy level of being. So for example, if you have redness caused by irritation or infection, the cannabinoids will reduce the inflammation and create healthy normal tissue by fighting the infection. There are many components and many different types of plant chemicals related to CBD, and they all work on different issues.

Skin issues in this chart are bacterial growth, inflammation, and treating psoriasis

CBD is introduced into your body by ingestion or inhalation. It should be noted that putting CBD on your skin is an extremely poor way to get CBD into your body and to your internal tissues. So you would not expect to help your clogged arteries or anxiety by putting CBD lotion on your skin, for example. Interestingly, when CBD is paired with certain terpenes (chemical components found in essential oils), the effectiveness is boosted dramatically!

So what is the science behind using CBD for skin issues? From the limited science we have currently on CBD use and skincare, it seems that CBD is very useful in several areas:

  • Eczema and psoriasis: These skin conditions are caused, in part, by an over proliferation of cell production. This causes scaly, itchy, sometimes oozing areas of the skin that are not only bothersome, but are very unhealthy and can open the skin and body up to infections. CBD signals the skin cell producing mechanism in your body to slow down and normalize. This ultimately improves symptoms, but it does not seem to cure the condition completely.

  • Acne: Inflammation and oil are key components that lead to inflamed acne, the acne that forms red painful bumps filled with pus. Using a CBD product on the skin for acne can improve the condition significantly, as CBD kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, and reduces excess oil production.

  • Itching: There are conditions such as advanced kidney disease or side effects from certain medications that cause severe and almost debilitating generalized itching. CBD shows some promise in blocking the skin nerve receptor that causes the itch.

Being a nurse (in my former life), I know there are 3 components when treating a condition with a product.

  1. What amount of the active ingredient does the product contain?

  2. What amount of the active ingredient are you applying to the area?

  3. How often are you applying it to get the desired effect?

So if I have a bottle of CBD topical oil, it contains 300 mg/ounce, and I am told to apply 5 drops to the effected area 3 times a day, I have all the pieces I need to get the best results. However, if I have a product marked "CBD oil" and I am told to "rub it on the effected areas for relief of pain", there's a lot of key information missing. Products like CBD bath bombs might smell nice, but the CBD is not doing anything in this case except raising the price of the product.

It should be noted that there is currently no known dosage for CBD when using it topically and the science suggests that at least 300-500 mg/oz is needed to get any kind of effect at all in the skin. Again, using CBD this way does not get absorbed into your body, it only tre