CBD is growing rapidly in popularity in Australia for its health benefits which include reducing inflammation, relieving stress, and lowering anxiety. It also has immense benefits for the skin because of its anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating properties. You can now find CBD creams, balms, and ointments which are moisturizing agents that are infused with CBD. Such products are designed to help treat issues like eczema, dry skin, and psoriasis by taking advantage of CBD’s therapeutic soothing effects. CBD is extracted from hemp. As such it contains many of the nutrients from hemp that nourish the skin. Some of these include vitamin E, gamma linoleic acid, omega 3, and long-chain fatty acids. Each helps to nourish and restore balance to the skin’s oils. They help in amplifying CBD’s effects in soothing inflammatory skin issues and restoring the skin’s sebum balance. All the while, it’s entirely natural, non-addictive, very well tolerated and safe for daily use. Let’s explore how CBD can help you improve your skin health, protect against skin conditions like psoriasis, soothe eczema and calm itchiness.
- 1 What is CBD?
- 2 The Endocannabinoid System’s Importance for Skin
- 3 Causes of Dry Skin
- 4 How CBD Helps With Dry Skin
- 5 What is Psoriasis?
- 6 CBD and Psoriasis
- 7 Using CBD for Psoriasis and Dry Skin
- 8 Full-Spectrum CBD Products
- 9 Risks and Side Effects
- 10 Conclusion
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid, one of more than 100 naturally occurring therapeutic compounds found in the cannabis plant. Each is bioactive and has distinct effects, with the most common being CBD, THC, CBG and CBN. Of these, CBD has the most useful and powerful health-promoting properties which include being anxiety and stress-reducing, anti-inflammatory, potent for sleep improvement and helpful in providing neuroprotective benefits. You’ve probably heard of THC which is the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis that causes the plant’s ‘high’. CBD on the other hand is not psychoactive, can’t get you high and isn’t addictive. Today it’s being used in everything from epilepsy medications to natural pain relief plus even in helping to combat sleep issues and insomnia.
The Endocannabinoid System’s Importance for Skin
While CBD does have some direct effects on the brain and body, its benefits are primarily indirect via endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are created by the body’s endocannabinoid system, which response to cannabinoids that are consumed by producing these compounds endogenously. The primary of these are anandamide and 2-AG. Both of these endocannabinoids are lipid signalling enzymes. They interact with other receptors and systems in the body to produce health benefits. These include modulating immunity and the inflammation response, helping to regulate circadian rhythm, reducing the stress response and helping with mood.
The endocannabinoid system itself is a series of receptors and enzymes located throughout the body and brain. It largely functions by helping cells and enzymes signal. By doing so it can change the function and activity of other body systems. Many of these receptors can be found in the skin. Because of this, CBD and other cannabinoids are useful in helping with skin conditions. They can aid in both soothing the skin and lowering inflammation, while also reducing the pain some skin conditions cause. This is done by inhibiting inflammatory agents from being produced and helping to normalise immune cell function. Better immune signalling is a key method of reducing chronic skin inflammation, redness and dry skin.
Causes of Dry Skin
Dry skin is the result of poor moisture balance in the skin’s layers and usually a broken or impaired skin barrier. Both internal and external factors can contribute to this. For example, exposure to wind or sun can dry out the skin’s surface. Inadequate water consumption, excessive caffeine or certain health conditions like eczema can dry out the skin. Substances that can replenish moisture as well as help reinforce the skin’s natural barrier will work to combat skin dryness. The surface of the skin is particularly important for moisture retention. It helps stop water molecules from exiting the skin’s layers whilst also protecting it from toxins, UV and environmental irritants.
How CBD Helps With Dry Skin
CBD cream or oil may be able to help in restoring this barrier. It can moisturise the area, enriching the skin’s barrier with helpful antioxidative nutrients like vitamin E. Antioxidants are important for skin health as they help in slowing or even preventing damage from free radicals. Free radicals are damaging agents that are produced when oxidative stress occurs, damaging cells and causing ageing. Because hemp is rich in phytocompounds that counteract this process, products produced from it help in slowing skin ageing and damage.
In addition, CBD can balance sebum levels through the endocannabinoid system. Sebum is the natural oil your body creates to moisturize your skin and keep it hydrated. It’s also important to protect the surface layers of your skin as it contains fats that form a protective waxy barrier against irritants. But too much sebum can cause oily, acne-prone skin. Too little sebum production on the other hand is also detrimental and will mean dry, flaky skin that is prone to cracks. Balancing sebum is key to preventing dry skin and many skin conditions. CBD can help with this through its sebacic effects. A 2014 study explored this property, in a review done by the Journal of Clinical Investigation. It tested the capacity of CBD to modulate sebum activity in human skin cells or sebocytes in-vitro. The results were that CBD both normalized pro-acne agents in the skin that caused excessive sebum, as well as offered some anti-inflammatory effects that helped to soothe the skin cells. Primarily the researchers concluded CBD demonstrated an effective means of treating acne and helping the skin self-regulate lipid levels to avoid dryness.
What is Psoriasis?
Another major benefit of CBD for skin health is its ability to help mitigate psoriasis symptoms. Psoriasis is a skin problem characterized by unwanted red, itchy, flaky skin patches. These patches can be irritating, unsightly and even painful. The cause of these symptoms is excessive cell division in the skin. This is the result of autoimmune dysfunction. Inflammatory activity on the skin’s surface causes an immune reaction which signals the skin to produce more skin cells in reaction. While psoriasis is not contagious, it can be passed on via the genes from parent to child. Environmental factors may also play a role in its occurrence but its cause is not fully understood. Many individuals who are affected by psoriasis are at higher risk of developing other inflammatory conditions like arthritis in the joints. Around 30% of individuals with psoriasis are also affected by psoriatic arthritis which causes joint pain, fatigue and soreness in the toes or fingers. Psoriasis is most common in areas with folds in the skin like the knees and elbows. It can also occur on your neck, scalp, or body.
CBD and Psoriasis
CBD has several mechanisms it offers that can support psoriasis symptom reduction. Both its anti-inflammatory effects, sebacic effects and analgesic or pain-relieving characteristics make it excellent for combatting this skin condition. Each of these properties makes it great for both soothing the inflammatory itchiness that psoriasis causes, helping bring back moisture to the skin while preventing the irritation or pain the issue results in. But most importantly, it helps prevent the excess skin production that underlies the condition.
When CBD enters your body, it causes the release of anti-inflammatory endocannabinoids in the skin. Endocannabinoids like anandamide help to calm and normalize the immune response that underlies psoriasis. Because psoriasis is an inflammatory condition caused by autoimmune issues, lowering inflammation and normalizing immune function can prevent its occurrence. CBD soothes scaly flare-ups from psoriasis, reducing the urge to scratch and the dryness of the skin’s surface. A recent study was performed on 50 participants with scalp psoriasis. They were asked to use a CBD-based shampoo for two weeks. By day 14, they reported reduced burning, itching, and inflammation on the scalp. Another study from 2007 in the Journal of Dermatological Science showed CBD helped with psoriasis by inhibiting keratinocyte activity. Keratinocytes are the skin cells that regulate the epithelium, causing new skin cell growth. Downregulating their activity helps in slowing and mitigating the display of psoriasis symptoms.
A separate study from 2019 was on 20 participants with psoriasis. Each was asked to apply CBD oil to the affected areas of their skin twice a day for three months. By the end of the period, all 20 subjects reported improvements in their skin’s hydration and elasticity. Additionally, the participant’s quality of life improved based on the Psoriasis Area Severity Index. This is an index that measures the severity of psoriasis lesions and how well a patient’s skin responds to treatment. The researchers theorized that endocannabinoids produced by CBD reduced the signalling of keratinocytes. These are cell markers responsible for causing excess skin cell production.
Alternative to Anti-Inflammatories
There are other solutions to manage the symptoms of psoriasis. Pharmaceutical compounds like corticosteroids are effective at reducing inflammation but carry a higher risk of side effects than CBD. Topical corticosteroid creams can cause lesions, thin skinning, and acne. CBD on the other hand has very few side effects. It’s well-tolerated, even when used on the skin. Many use it as a natural alternative to these compounds to help with mitigating psoriasis and restoring sebum balance without the high side effect risk.
Using CBD for Psoriasis and Dry Skin
It is straightforward to use CBD for dry skin or psoriasis. You can use CBD products topically or orally to help mitigate symptoms. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, but either will work in helping to manage the condition. No matter how you consume CBD, the body will absorb it in each case and transport it to the skin’s cannabinoid receptors. You’ll still benefit whether you use oil drops orally or apply a CBD cream to your affected skin area. CBD-infused topical products such as lotions, moisturizers or balms are great at delivering CBD into your skin’s layers. While they have lower bioavailability than orally consumed products, they’re better at offering targeted relief to specific regions of the skin. CBD balms for psoriasis also contain other deeply hydrating emollients that help reduce dryness. This is great for psoriasis which often occurs more acutely in particular areas or patches of the skin. It can be used to help fight flare-ups or even daily as an ongoing soothing agent in problem areas.
Oral products on the other hand are more suitable for many. Products like CBD capsules, oils, and sublingual or edibles can be consumed each day to help with dry skin and psoriasis problems. They have greater bioavailability than topical products, meaning the amount of CBD you can absorb is higher. A downside is that these products are less targeted and more designed for holistic well-being. You won’t be able to directly target and soothe particular skin areas. But an advantage is they are easier to take and mean you can avoid the oily moisturized feeling on your skin from a topical. CBD oil can be taken quickly within seconds and is highly convenient. If you have a severe case of psoriasis you can even use both topical CBD and oral drops simultaneously for greater efficacy.
The dosages of CBD for treating psoriasis or moisturising dry skin aren’t set in stone. There isn’t a specific dose that will work for each person every time. Many factors influence how much CBD you’ll need for symptom reduction. These can include the severity of your psoriasis, how healthy your skin is, your hydration levels, other underlying or exacerbating conditions, diet, metabolism and more. Start with a low dose daily of several drops of CBD, to begin with. Increase this over time after you’ve used it for several weeks. To ascertain if you have any issues or side effects, a low dosage, to begin with, is important. Experimentation with dosage can then be done to find the optimal dose that suits your needs and symptoms. Ramping up your dose may be needed if your psoriasis is more severe.
Full-Spectrum CBD Products
For most people, full-spectrum CBD products will offer more benefits for dry skin and psoriasis. There are some reasons for this. Firstly, this type of product contains a greater range of minor cannabinoids in it such as CBG, CBN and MEB. Each of these can also help in maintaining pH levels and reducing inflammatory markers of the skin like CBD. They trigger the endocannabinoid system like CBD in different ways, helping to create similar skin health-promoting benefits. Full-spectrum CBD will also contain terpenes which are natural scent chemicals from cannabis. These are also anti-inflammatory for the skin but their primary use is amplifying the effects of other cannabinoids. Terpenes improve the permeability of cannabinoid receptors in the skin, improving endocannabinoid production and increasing the anti-inflammatory effects that cannabinoids like CBD can provide.
Getting the Most Out of CBD
CBD won’t cure psoriasis or chronically dry skin. It is primarily a supporting agent that can assist with mitigating symptoms and flare-ups. The best results in using it come alongside other skin health protocols such as exfoliation, moisturisation, a healthy diet, exercise and hydration. Exfoliating is important to help clear out the dead and excess skin cells being produced by your skin due to its autoimmune dysfunction. Doing this regularly will help keep your surface skin layers in check. Moisturising can also aid in restoring skin water balance, avoiding dryness and preventing cracks in the skin barrier. Keeping the skin supple and moisturised is important to prevent psoriasis from worsening by avoiding excess dryness. Exfoliating first helps moisture
Diet can also play a big role in mitigating skin problems. Ensuring you intake healthy fats and minimize your consumption of sugar, trans fats and preservatives will help keep your hormone levels balanced and your skin clear. Healthy fats contained in CBD oil like polyunsaturated fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acid contribute to its soothing effect. These fats help restore the pH balance of the skin and support moisture retention. Exercise, sleep and hydration are also major items that need to be kept in check daily to maximise skin health. Employing these in combination with CBD will amplify the benefits of CBD while increasing overall symptom reduction. You’ll see better results more quickly, while also being able to sustain them.
Risks and Side Effects
The risks and side effects of using CBD are very low. It’s a natural compound sourced from plants and is well tolerated plus easily absorbed by the body. Side effects can occur in some people but are rare. Some side effects include dry mouth, stomach aches, drowsiness and appetite reduction. The topical application of CBD has an even lower risk of side effects occurring. It is important however to test your skin’s tolerance to CBD. Try using a tiny amount on a section of skin to gauge whether you have any reaction or allergies to it before using it more widely.
Prior studies on CBD in humans suggest it has a very low risk in use. None of the clinical studies to date commented on side effects occurring. The main risk primarily comes from product quality. Low-quality products can contain contaminants like solvents or artificial additives which can irritate the skin. Always look for well-reviewed, reputable and lab-certified CBD products to avoid this risk. Sensitive skin which has psoriasis issues can be even more exposed to these types of contaminants meaning avoiding them is extra important.
Another risk is using CBD if you are currently using medications. Always check with your doctor before trying CBD to avoid this risk. It doesn’t mix with compounds that are processed by the liver. If you’re already using NSAIDs or corticosteroids for psoriasis, don’t start with CBD until you have cleared this with a medical professional. Doing so could exacerbate your symptoms or cause issues with your liver. Higher doses of CBD can also make this worse.
CBD is a natural extract from hemp that is powerful in supporting skin health and preventing psoriasis. Many are now leveraging it as an alternative to anti-inflammatories like NSAIDs in lowering skin inflammation without side effects. You can use CBD lotions, balms, or even oil for oral consumption to help with your skin. It has potent anti-inflammatory and sebacic effects that aid the skin with rejuvenating, moisture retention and normalised immune activity. CBD aids in lowering keratinocyte production to better regulate sebum levels and help fight psoriasis. As a treatment, CBD is best used in conjunction with lifestyle and dietary improvements to get the best results. You should also ensure your skin is well cared for through moisturizing and exfoliating.