As medical and personal use of marijuana become increasingly legal, many new ways to intake cannabis are now available. In addition to inhaling smoke, people can benefit from the medical cannabinoids in cannabis by vaporizing, ingesting, and absorption via the skin.
Plant cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are fat soluble and readily absorbed by the skin. These medicinal molecules may well be most perfectly administered, for many conditions, via topical products applied directly to the skin’s surface, such as cannabis-infused massage oil. To clarify, this is not “hemp oil” from the seeds of low cannabinoid hemp, but made from the flowers (buds) themselves, and filled with cannabinoids.
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The importance of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to the healthy functioning of the skin is only now becoming clear, as the profound ways the ECS effects all our systems are continually discovered. This system,with natural receptors (CB1 and CB2) found in brain, immune and most types of cells, including those in the skin, and natural endocannabinoids our bodies produce, are perhaps the greatest discoveries in human physiology of the last 50 years.
During these same time, researchers discovered the ability for plant based cannabinoids from cannabis, including THC and CBD, to activate the ECS. These cannabinoids offer great potential for preventing, treating, and curing common skin diseases. Massages using cannabis infused oil may be an optimal way to address skin maladies. Cannabinoids may be very useful in treating skin cancer.
The endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) has been found to play a key role in the health of the skin, prompting these Italian researchers to study cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabidivarin (CBDV) to study effects on skin cells. The Italian study skipped THC because of its psychoactivity, but THC has been shown to be powerfully therapeutic. THC is actually closer to AEA in function than is CBD, so it would have been interesting if it were included in the study.
Many skin conditions are inflammatory in nature and the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids on skin cells have been demonstrated. Both THC and CBD show anti-inflammatory effects.
Cannabinoids also act on the genetic level to help calm skin diseases. The field of Epigenetics studies how “molecular mechanisms in the environment control gene activity independently of DNA sequence.” Activities such as exercise and factors such as nutrition and stress can change how genes are expressed. Endocannabinoids made by your own cells and phytocannabiniods from cannabis sativa also can change genetic expression in medically useful ways, addressing diseases from psoriasis to cancer.
The report concluded: “These findings show that the phytocannabinoids cannabidiol and cannabigerol are transcriptional repressors that can control cell proliferation and differentiation. This indicates that they (especially cannabidiol) have the potential to be lead compounds for the development of novel therapeutics for skin diseases.”
THC infused oils may offer many benefits missing from potions without this main cannabinoid. One of these benefits might be the “psychoactivity” seemingly dreaded by cannabinoid researchers. Patients may well enjoy the blissful experience, and even consider it part of the cure.
Watch for Part 2 of this series for more on the science, on the new found epigenetic capabilities of cannabinoids, how marijuana’s amazing molecules adjust gene expression to protect skin.