The Answer May Surprise You.

A significant buzzword everywhere these days is cannabis. Is cannabis good for you? Does it offer medical benefits? When will all 50 states legalize the substance? Is it a good investment? Many people think that cannabis, aka marijuana, is the next big thing, and in some instances it already is. At SAM, we posed the question is cannabis (THC) suitable for the skin?

It depends.

Marijuana contains many powerful and beneficial anti-inflammatories and antioxidants which can protect the skin against damage. The National Academy of Sciences published a study back in 1998 that found CBD oil is more potent as an antioxidant than vitamins E and C., so the good news is, there seem to benefit from CBD oils we see on social media and store shelves. THC has also been found to have antioxidant properties, but how they quantify against each other is something that has a lot of research behind it.

The bottom line about cannabis and the skin, it all comes down to how we use the substance.

Smoking marijuana can produce toxic byproducts that can harm the skin, resulting in things such as leathery dry looking skin and an increase in the appearance of wrinkles — something you probably did not want to hear. Components from the smoke impart detrimental effects to the mitochondrial DNA in the skin producing byproducts called ROS (reactive oxygen species/free radicals) that can negatively affect the DNA in the nucleus of the skin keratinocytes resulting in defective protein (enzyme) synthesis.  All this scientific talk means that studies show pot smoking can lead to skin aging faster.

And to take it further, smoking marijuana can also affect the oils in the skin in a negative way, resulting in skin drying out faster. If you choose to smoke, a good guideline is to use a good moisturizing product for your skin. Moisturizing the skin is also more important the older we get.

Now that we have covered smoking, what about oils? Oils can help neutralize free radicals. Rubbing oil on the skin is better than smoking it, but in that case, it is being used for different purposes. According to research from the National Eczema Association (NEA), cannabinoids bind to receptors in the skin that could reduce the symptoms and appearance of AD. Skin creams containing marijuana can also aid in the reduction of rashes, dry skin with the added dimension of improving more severe skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis as a result of their anti-inflammatory efficacy.

There seem to be a plethora of marijuana-infused skin creams popping up in cosmetic and topical products these days, and they appear to be more than anecdotal.  For example, there was a study back in 2003 that found treatments with cannabinoids caused skin cancer cells to die while leaving healthy cells unharmed.  Moreover, the experiment was repeated in living mice with skin tumors, and the same results were found!  I have heard of testimonials from human consumers finding the same results, but human trials are not so readily available for several reasons.           

To sum it up, applied both THC and CBD topically, the most popular compounds in cannabis were found to protect the skin. According to a study, marijuana fights against MRSA, a bacterium that causes difficult-to-treat infections since it does not respond to many antibiotics. In protecting its oil and product form, it also helps provide vitamin A and D that contribute to the skin’s natural barrier function as they stimulate cell regeneration for healthier skin. The vitamins in cannabis help to protect the skin against damage from the sun, smoke, and other environmental pollutants.

While smoking cannabis may contribute to damage, topically used, marijuana could be the key to more radiant skin.