The skin is a remarkably intricate and essential organ that serves multiple critical functions in maintaining our overall health and well-being. It deserves our utmost attention and care to keep it functioning optimally. Whether you have dry, oily, or sensitive skin, a consistent skin care routine is crucial. Luckily, cannabinoids may hold the key to unlocking its full potential.
While much research on the endocannabinoid system has focused on its role in the central nervous and immune systems, a growing body of evidence collected over the past few decades reveals that this system also plays a critical role in protecting and maintaining several vital functions of the skin. In this article, we will delve into how the endocannabinoid system operates and its correlation with various skin conditions, paving the way for a better understanding of how cannabinoid skin care routine can help us.
Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest and most complex organ? It covers an incredible two square meters and weighs around 3.5 kg in adults! But its size isn’t the only impressive thing about it. It is a vital protector, shielding us from the outside world and helping to regulate our internal environment.
Think of it as a waterproof insulating shield that allows you to maintain homeostasis, no matter the weather conditions. It’s an essential part of our immune system, acting as a physical barrier and secreting antibacterial substances to prevent pathogen infections. And did you know that it is also home to beneficial bacteria that produce vitamin D and keep it healthy?
But that’s not all. Our skin is also connected to our nervous system, with every square millimeter packed with nerve cells that act as a giant sensor for environmental stimuli. This incredible sensory network sends signals to our brain, allowing us to perceive touch, temperature, and even pain. It is made up of three distinct layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis, primarily composed of keratinocytes, is responsible for its protective functions and immune response. The dermis gives the skin its strength and elasticity and is densely innervated. Finally, the hypodermis, made up of fat cells and connective tissue, provides insulation and shock absorption.
The epidermis, the outermost layer of our skin, is an impressive and crucial part of our body’s defense system. It is formed by multiple layers of epithelial cells, mainly keratinocytes, which act as a compact and waterproof barrier, protecting us from a range of environmental stressors such as UV radiation, extreme temperatures, allergens, and chemicals.
Within the epidermis, there are several different cell types, each with its unique functions. For example, Merkel cells act as mechanoreceptors that sense touch and pressure, while melanocytes determine our skin color through melanogenesis. Langerhans cells function as professional antigen-presenting cells of the skin’s immune system, which can identify and neutralize potential threats. But the epidermis doesn’t just protect us from outside dangers. It also contains sensory nerve endings that can detect touch, pressure, temperature, pain, and itch. These nerve endings transmit important information to our brains, allowing us to respond appropriately to different stimuli.
While the epidermis is primarily known for its protective functions, it also plays a role in regulating our body’s water balance. The keratinocytes within the epidermis help to prevent dehydration by limiting water loss through the skin.
The dermis, a layer of skin located just beneath the epidermis, is a complex and dense connective tissue that plays a vital role in its health and function. This layer is primarily made up of collagen, elastic, and reticular fibers, which provide the dermis with strength, elasticity, and flexibility. The fibroblasts found in the dermis produce these fibers, which allow the skin to stretch and contract as necessary.
In addition to its fibrous components, the dermis is highly innervated by both sensory and motor nerve fibers, allowing it to participate in a wide range of functions such as vasoregulation and thermoregulation. It is also supplied with blood and lymphatic vessels, which provide essential nutrients and oxygen to the cells and remove waste products.
One of the most crucial functions of the dermis is its role as the “home” of various skin appendages, including hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands. Hair follicles, for example, are responsible for producing hair and play an important role in regulating body temperature. Sebaceous glands secrete sebum, a natural oil that helps keep our skin moisturized and healthy. Sweat glands, on the other hand, help regulate our body temperature by producing sweat when we get too hot. All of these structures rely on the dermis for their function, making it an essential component of overall skin physiology. The dermis also plays a crucial role in wound healing, as it contains cells responsible for creating new tissue and repairing damage to the skin.
The hypodermis, or subcutaneous tissue, is the deepest and thickest layer of the skin. It is mainly composed of adipocytes or fat cells, which play a crucial role in insulation, shock absorption, and energy storage. These cells can expand or shrink in response to fluctuations in energy balance, such as changes in diet or physical activity.
In addition to adipocytes, the hypodermis contains other cells such as fibroblasts and macrophages, which help maintain the skin’s structural integrity and participate in immune responses. These cells can produce collagen and elastin fibers that provide support and elasticity. The hypodermis is also highly vascularized, meaning it is well-supplied with blood vessels that deliver nutrients and oxygen to the skin and remove waste products. Additionally, nerve fibers in the hypodermis play a crucial role in sensation, providing the ability to sense temperature, pressure, and pain. Overall, the hypodermis is a vital component of the skin that helps maintain its structure, function, and overall health.
There are various elements throughout these layers, each playing a crucial role in the overall health and functioning of the skin ecosystem. Cannabinoid skin care routine can benefit all of them.
Hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands are skin appendages that play essential roles in its physiology. Hair follicles are structures that constantly regenerate hair, which helps protect the skin from external damage and insulate the body. Sebaceous glands, located next to the hair follicles, secrete sebum, an oily substance that moisturizes and protects the skin’s surface, reinforcing the waterproof barrier of the epidermis. Sweat glands, on the other hand, secrete sweat to help regulate body temperature and maintain homeostasis. These “mini-organs” also produce various hormones, such as steroids and Vitamin D, which are vital for the immune defense.
The skin has its own immune system, which serves as a vital defense mechanism against external factors that can harm the body. This system comprises various immune cell types that either reside within the skin or infiltrate it when danger is sensed. Additionally, all other skin cell types can join the skin’s immune system to protect and heal the organ when necessary. The immune cells in it include dendritic cells, T cells, and macrophages, which work together to detect and eliminate harmful pathogens.
Sensory nerves form a dense network throughout the skin, allowing it to detect various stimuli and send signals to the brain. These nerve endings recognize practically all types of sensations, including heat, cold, pressure, vibration, pain, and itch. This makes the skin the largest sensory organ in the body. In addition to its protective and immune functions, it also plays a crucial role in the body’s sensation and perception, allowing us to interact with the external environment.
SKIN AND ITS ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
Extensive research over the last 20 years has uncovered diverse biological effects of both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids skin care routine on skin homeostasis. These cannabinoids interact with several cell types in the skin, including epidermal keratinocytes, melanocytes, mast cells, fibroblasts, sebocytes, sweat gland cells, and hair follicle populations. Based on this knowledge, researchers have been focused on understanding the role of endocannabinoid ligands and receptors in skin-related disorders.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a critical regulatory system that maintains homeostasis in the body, including skin homeostasis and barrier function. Imbalances in the ECS have been associated with various skin disorders. All the components of the ECS, including endocannabinoids, enzymes synthesizing and degrading them, and receptors like CB1, CB2, TRP, and PPAR, are present in different layers of the skin.
THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
Among the endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) have been most extensively studied and they have been found in keratinocytes and fibroblasts. Other endocannabinoids, such as N-palmitoyl ethanolamide (PEA), N-alpha-linolenoyl ethanolamide (ALEA), N-linoleoyl ethanolamide (LEA), N-oleoyl ethanolamide (OEA), N-stearoyl ethanolamide (SEA), N-eicosapentaenoyl ethanolamide (EPEA), and N-docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DHEA), have also been detected.
The ECS and its receptors are present in various skin cell types, including epidermal keratinocytes, cutaneous nerve fibers, dermal cells, melanocytes, eccrine sweat glands, and hair follicles. Activation of these receptors plays a critical role in functions such as barrier formation and maintenance, cell growth, differentiation, immune responses, neurological functions, and inflammatory processes.
These findings underscore the importance of the ECS in maintaining skin health and offer new insights into potential therapeutic targets for treating various disorders with cannabinoid skin care routine.
Endocannabinoids & Receptors
Endocannabinoids are synthesized by several cell types, including the epidermis, hair follicles, and sebaceous glands, and are constantly released in specific amounts depending on the skin’s “healthy need.” This results in a balance known as the skin’s cannabinoid tone (which can be regulated with the right skin care routine), which helps regulate various functions.
Endocannabinoids act on various receptors in the body, including the “classic” CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are present in practically all cell types of the skin. Activation of these receptors by endocannabinoids on epidermal cells regulates normal function, such as maintaining the skin barrier. When CB1 or CB2 receptors are engaged, epidermal cell functions such as proliferation, differentiation, or apoptosis are modified, which are all essential processes for healthy skin. Moreover, endocannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties, and they suppress inflammation in the epidermis.
Understanding the role of endocannabinoids and their receptors in skin health and disease can help identify potential therapeutic targets for treating skin disorders. Therefore, further research is necessary to investigate the mechanisms underlying the endocannabinoid system in skin physiology and pathology.
EFFECTS OF ECS AND CANNABINOIDS ON:
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a crucial role in regulating the immune and inflammatory responses of the skin. This regulatory function occurs in two ways: first, endocannabinoids exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that help to suppress excessive immune activity. Second, the ECS helps to prevent unnecessary immune activation in the skin. Researchers believe that by enhancing the activity of the ECS, it may be possible to develop new therapies for inflammatory and immune-related skin diseases. Such novel drugs could target specific components of the ECS, such as the cannabinoid receptors or enzymes responsible for producing and breaking down endocannabinoids. By modulating the activity of the ECS in the skin, it may be possible to restore the balance of immune and inflammatory responses, thus promoting healthier skin function.
The hair follicle undergoes a natural cycle of growth, regression, and resting phases throughout a person’s life. The growth phase, or anagen, is followed by the regression phase, or catagen, and finally the resting phase, or telogen. The activity of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a crucial role in regulating the hair growth cycle.
Activation of CB1 receptors in the hair follicle can lead to inhibition of cell proliferation and cell death, resulting in decreased hair growth and a longer regression phase. This suggests that modulation of the ECS activity in the hair follicle could hold therapeutic promise for hair growth disorders such as unwanted hair growth or baldness. Additionally, studies have shown that other components of the ECS, such as anandamide and 2-AG, are present in hair follicles and play a role in regulating the hair growth cycle. An imbalance in the ECS may result in hair growth disorders, making it a promising therapeutic target.
Sebaceous glands play an important role in the maintenance of healthy skin by producing sebum, a lipid-rich substance that moisturizes and protects it. The proper functioning of sebaceous glands is crucial for the integrity of the skin barrier, as it prevents water loss and inhibits the growth of harmful microorganisms on the skin surface.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) also plays a key role in regulating the activity of sebaceous glands. When the ECS is balanced, endocannabinoids and their receptors are produced and function properly, helping to maintain the physiological cannabinoid tone. This is essential for the healthy biology of the sebaceous glands, as it ensures that they can secrete enough sebum to keep the skin moisturized and protected.
On the other hand, when the cannabinoid tone of the sebaceous glands is disrupted, it can lead to skin disorders. For example, overproduction of sebum can result in acne, while underproduction can lead to dry and irritated skin. The proper modulation of ECS activity in sebaceous glands may therefore hold therapeutic potential for a variety of skin conditions. It is therefore possible to regulate it with the correct cannabinoid skin care routine.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been identified in sweat glands as well, with both CB1 and CB2 receptors playing a role in regulating the life cycle of sweat gland cells. While it is known that endocannabinoids interact with these receptors, the exact mechanisms and effects on sweat gland function are not yet fully understood. Further research is needed to clarify how the ECS influences sweat production and the overall role of this system in maintaining healthy sweat gland function.
Cannabinoid receptors on certain sensory nerve endings can impede their function. However, the activation of these receptors on the skin can alleviate pain caused by painful stimuli, by inhibiting their development and spread. The skin’s endocannabinoid tone is effective in suppressing the unpleasant sensation of itch, which is a frequently diagnosed symptom in dermatology. These beneficial effects of the skin’s ECS can be a solid foundation for the development of new analgesic and anti-itch drugs that target the ECS.
Endocannabinoid deficiency and dysregulation have been implicated in a diverse range of human diseases. It can be inferred that imbalances in the its cannabinoid tone may contribute to the development of common conditions such as acne, dry skin, inflammation, and eczema. Therefore, a better understanding of the ECS in the skin may pave the way for more effective skin care routine therapies for these conditions.
The skin’s capacity to absorb substances is an important yet often overlooked function. Recent research highlights that the skin can absorb a wide range of chemicals, which can then enter the bloodstream. Consequently, it is crucial to be mindful of the products we use on our skin and consider their potential impact on our health. Taking a careful and informed approach to selecting skin care products can help minimize exposure to harmful substances and promote overall skin health.
SKIN CARE ROUTINE WITH CANNABINOIDS
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a vital role in keeping our body and mind healthy. Skin diseases such as acne, itching, psoriasis, and others are linked to a dysfunctional ECS. Applying cannabinoids to the skin makes sense because they impact the skin and the body. The most researched cannabinoid for skin health is CBD, but it can be challenging for it to pass through the skin. To overcome this, carrier systems and penetrators are necessary. Plant terpenes, including those found in cannabis, are effective in enhancing the passage of cannabinoids through the skin.
Our skin is exposed to many environmental stressors, which produce harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS). CBD can help neutralize ROS, promote antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and protect the cell membrane. This is helpful in treating skin diseases characterized by inflammation and keratin disorders such as atopic dermatitis.
Wound healing is a complex process that the ECS affects, and phytocannabinoids can activate receptors and increase anti-inflammatory factors, aiding the healing process. Studies have shown promising results in the topical use of CBD in treating conditions such as bullous epidermolysis bullosa. Another study found that cannabis extract can up-regulate the expression of genes involved in inflammation, wound healing, and matrix remodeling.
SKIN CONDITIONS & CANNABINOIDS
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common skin condition that causes chronic inflammation, and it can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as genetics, environmental irritants, microbiome imbalances, and weakened skin barriers. However, studies have shown that skin care routine with phytocannabinoids can help address these underlying mechanisms. Specifically, CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties and can reduce FAAH levels to alleviate itching. In addition to inflammation, microbiome imbalances are a significant factor in AD, with the overgrowth of Staphylococcus aureus and biofilm formation contributing to the disease’s worsening. Fortunately, cannabinoids and terpenes, including myrcene, α-pinene, and β-caryophyllene, have shown great promise in restoring healthy skin by fighting off harmful microbes and reducing biofilm formation.
DERMATITIS & CANNABINOIDS
Acne affects a large percentage of the population, particularly those between the ages of 12 and 24, and is primarily caused by factors such as excessive sebum production, sebocyte proliferation, bacterial overgrowth, and inflammation. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a significant role in maintaining healthy skin, particularly in the regulation of lipogenesis. CBD, has been found to have potential therapeutic benefits for acne treatment. In vitro studies suggest that CBD can regulate sebaceous gland function and reduce lipid synthesis in a dose-dependent manner, as well as decrease sebocyte proliferation. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can also counteract acne mediators such as TNF-α, IL-1B, and IL6. Additionally, the cannabis plant has been shown to have effective antimicrobial properties against acne-associated bacteria such as Cutibacterium acnes (formerly known as Propionibacterium), and many of the terpenes present in the plant also exhibit antimicrobial effects.
A 2014 study explored the effects of CBD on human sebocytes, indicating that CBD can prevent sebocytes from creating too much sebum. A 2016 review notes the potential antibacterial and antifungal properties of the cannabis plant, which could help prevent acne due to infections on the skin. Furthermore, a 2019 study suggests that CBD may be beneficial for treating the appearance of acne scars. The combination of antilipogenic, antiproliferative, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties of phytocannabinoids makes them promising candidates for the cannabinoids skin care routine treatment of acne.
Dryness & Itching
Dryness and itching are common symptoms of various conditions, including eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. A 2019 study demonstrated the potential of CBD in alleviating these symptoms. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce triggers associated with these conditions. Moreover, CBD oil can soothe the skin and reduce the appearance of irritation, making it a promising natural alternative for addressing dryness, itching, and other symptoms of skin conditions, especially for individuals with sensitive skin.
For those interested in learning more about how CBD can specifically help with psoriasis, there are additional resources available to explore. Overall, CBD’s potential benefits make it an exciting area of research and development in the skincare industry.
Aging & Wrinkles
As we age, our skin naturally undergoes changes that can lead to the development of wrinkles and other visible signs of aging. One of the key factors contributing to these changes is oxidative stress, which can damage our cells and lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin – the proteins that give skin its youthful firmness and elasticity.
Fortunately, research has shown that cannabinoids may offer a natural solution for combating oxidative stress and preventing the appearance of aging in the skin. A 2017 study found that CBD possesses powerful antioxidant properties, which can help neutralize harmful free radicals and protect skin cells from damage. Additionally, CBD’s anti-inflammatory skin care properties can help soothe and calm irritated skin, further reducing the risk of premature aging.
While CBD has not been extensively studied for its specific effects on wrinkles, the available research suggests that it may offer a range of potential benefits for promoting healthy, youthful-looking skin. In addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has also been shown to improve skin hydration and support the production of collagen and elastin.
Psoriasis is a complex and chronic inflammatory skin disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. The exact causes of psoriasis are still unknown, but it is thought to involve genetic and epigenetic abnormalities, as well as alterations in the microbiota and pH. Recent research has shown the potential of targeting endocannabinoid pathways, including CB1 and CB2, to develop more effective treatments for psoriasis.
Studies have revealed a relationship between dysregulation of endocannabinoid pathways and psoriasis development. For instance, elevated levels of anandamide in the plasma, increased activity of fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase in granulocytes, and upregulation of GPR55 have all been associated with potential involvement in endocannabinoid dysregulation in psoriasis patients.
Endocannabinoids possess anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory properties, making them a promising target for treating psoriasis. By targeting these pathways, researchers may develop more targeted therapies to alleviate symptoms and potentially cure psoriasis. The use of cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, has also shown promising results in managing the symptoms of psoriasis, including reducing inflammation and alleviating itching.
UNLOCK THE FULL POTENTIAL
Cannabinoids have shown great potential in promoting skin health and treating various conditions. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis, and imbalances in this system have been linked to skin diseases. With their extensive range of beneficial effects, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antilipogenic, antiproliferative, immunomodulatory, and neuroprotective properties, cannabinoid skin care can alleviate symptoms like swelling, pain, and itching while promoting wound healing. They are also safe and well-tolerated both topically and orally, contributing to stress reduction and possessing anti-aging properties. More research is needed to better understand the complex interactions between cannabinoids and the skin, but the potential benefits for maintaining healthy, glowing skin are promising.
G. D. C.
23. 03. 2023