Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, has risen in popularity over the last few years and this has led to extensive research on the substance and what it may treat.
One condition CBD has been tested on is acne – so what was the outcome?
Does CBD help acne? Yes, CBD has been shown to help acne in multiple scientific studies. CBD has been shown to help stop acne in the first place and also treat acne and other skin conditions after they occur.
A 2014 study named CBD as a “promising therapeutic agent” for acne treatment as it helped to stop the root problems which lead to acne.
Similarly, a 2018 study found that cannabinoids like CBD “have the potential to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne” and many others.
But it’s vital you know what CBD does and doesn’t do, what’s true and what’s not, as there are many common misconceptions.
It’s also important to take CBD in a safe manner if you’re taking it to treat acne and help your skin – that’s what you’ll find out here.
The study also warns however that, as with anxiety and pretty much all ailments it supposedly helps with, CBD is still in the early stages of research. Stating that: “the majority of available data on these compounds are pre-clinical and there is a corresponding lack of high-quality randomized, controlled trials that evaluate their effects.” but also further reaffirming that “Cannabinoids have shown some initial promise as a therapy for a variety of skin diseases”.
Don’t let this stop you however, as many users of CBD for acne preach its benefits and relief that it provided for them in treatment.
Celebrity facial treatment specialist Michaela Bolder who has worked with many stars stated that “CBD can deliver fantastic results for acne by soothing the skin and balancing excess oil production”.
Many variables have to be considered with CBD because it depends on the product, the quality of it and how some people metabolize CBD differently, just as with any biohacking supplement.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol oil (CBD) is extracted from the leaves, stalks, and flowers of industrial hemp plants. CBD is a cannabinoid, these are compounds found in the cannabis plant species. Unlike the similarly prominent cannabinoid, THC. CBD is non-psychoactive meaning it does not produce a ‘high’.
Because CBD is extracted from industrial hemp plants, it contains less than 0.2 – 0.3% THC content, so long as the product abides by this content level, it is legal in the US, UK, and Canada.
THC is the main psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant species, it is responsible for the ‘high’ that cannabis gives you.
What is Acne?
One of the most common skin conditions, acne affects almost everyone at one point in life. Hair follicles are tiny holes in the skin and acne occurs when these become blocked.
Sebaceous glands secrete sebum which is an oily substance that waterproofs the skin and hair of mammals, these glands are close to the surface of the skin and are attached to the hair follicles in order to stop hair from drying out.
Acne occurs when these glands produce an excess of sebum, this excess mixes with dead skin cells and in turn blocks the hair follicle.
Whiteheads are made if the follicle is close to the surface of the skin meaning it bulges outwards.
Blackheads are made when the blocked follicle is open to the skin.
What are usually harmless bacteria that live on the skin can contaminate and infect the blocked follicle leading to papules, pustules, nodules or cysts?
Acne can develop on the face, back or chest.
Traditional remedies and home treatments include:
- Washing with mild soap and lukewarm water
- Not washing the affected area of skin more than twice a day
- Wash hair frequently and avoid letting hair fall onto your face often
- Don’t use too much make-up, or use water-based products as they are less likely to block pores
- Removing all makeup before bed
- Not squeezing spots
Acne can be controlled but not cured, creams and lotions are also available for treatment.
How does CBD help?
The main process which leads to acne is the excess production of oil in the skin.
As stated, excess oil combined with dirt or dead skin cells blocks hair follicles and pores. Most acne treatment involves keeping skin clean and free of excess oil.
CBD has been found as a “promising” treatment for acne because of its effectiveness in inhibiting oil production and its anti-inflammatory effect on the Sebaceous, oil-producing, glands.
As acne works in the same way all over the body, CBD can help with not just facial acne, but body acne also.
Soaps and shampoos containing CBD are becoming ever more available and popular and may be useful in treating acne.
CBD forms and dosage
CBD comes in a variety of forms, these include:
- Oil in sprays and tinctures
- Vaporizers/vape oils
- Infused water
- Infused coffee
- Shower gels/bath bombs/bath salts and shampoos
The best forms of CBD for acne would be the topicals and washes (shower gels, shampoo, etc.). There is no scientifically outlined dosage of CBD for all ailments.
People follow guidelines that vary depending on where you look. The dosage depends on weight, and the ailment you are trying to treat.
For acne, the best CBD treatments would be topicals and washes. Dosage for these types of products is easy as you just apply until you get the desired effect.
If you decide to use pills, however, look to the low dosage section in the table below which gives an outline of body weight relating to dosage.
Misconceptions surrounding CBD
Does CBD get you high?
CBD does not get you high. Legal CBD extracted from industrial hemp plants are legally required to contain less than 0.2 % in the UK, and 0.3% in the US, THC content. This amount is insignificant and presents no risk of getting ‘high’ from taking any CBD products.
Legality of CBD
In Canada, CBD along with recreational marijuana use is legal, however individual provinces have their own laws so check here for a more detailed outline on the legality of CBD in Canada. CBD products from Canada may contain more than the legal amount of THC (as there is no limit) than other countries allow, so be cautious in transporting or trying to import CBD products from Canada.
In the United States, some states have legalized recreational marijuana use while some outlaw CBD as they do not differ it from marijuana itself, check here for a state by state guide on the legality of CBD in the US.
In federal law, CBD is legal so long as it is extracted from industrial hemp plants and contains less than 0.3% THC content.
In the United Kingdom, CBD is legal as long as it is extracted from industrial hemp plants and contains less than 0.2% THC content.
In Australia, CBD and other ‘medicinal cannabis’ products can only be prescribed by a registered medical practitioner following an in-depth assessment of the patient’s condition and individual, outside circumstances.
Side effects and risks of CBD
Side effects of CBD are largely uncommon and insignificant. Short term side effects include:
- Tiredness + mood changes
- Appetite change
Long term side effects are unstudied as studies have only recently begun on CBD.
Failing a drug test because of CBD
Drug tests look for THC and its metabolites.
Because CBD contains trace amounts of THC a false positive can result from taking CBD so be cautious when taking CBD before a drug test.
Both the Hemp and Marijuana plant, which CBD can be derived from, contain THC. Industrial Hemp is legal because the amount of THC is limited to 0.2 – 0.3%, where Marijuana plants have no limit, which is why the plant is illegal.
CBD can interfere with your body’s ability to process certain pharmaceutical drugs; specifically, it inhibits cytochrome p450.
As with some other medications, CBD is metabolized in the body by the enzymes in the CYP450 system.
So, in competing for these enzymes, CBD can reduce the metabolism of other drugs, raising their blood levels and having the inhibitor effect described above. This means that lower dosages are more likely to be required without knowing so.
This could lead to the potentially harmful levels suggested above.
Clinical trials have shown this where CBD is provided in hundreds of milligrams (mg) daily. The average CBD supplement pill can range from 10 to 40 mg, therefore the effect may not be as strong in smaller doses of CBD. Drugs that are affected by grapefruit do have warnings so watch out for these and avoid CBD when seeing this warning.
CBD has been shown to and proven to be a promising treatment for a variety of skin conditions including acne.
As a 2014 study showed, CBD prevents the sebaceous glands from creating too much sebum. Skin Care specialists who work for celebrities use CBD to help with acne and excess oil. Dosage for acne can be irrelevant if you use topicals or washes for treatment, just apply until the desired effect, most products will have a guideline on the back also.
CBD and dermatology are a broad topic so keep an eye out for more articles on CBD’s effect on other skin conditions.