Hemp is one of the planet’s most versatile plants. Used to build, cook, make clothing and, crucially, contains two compounds that are pretty popular to say the least - CBD & THC. Thanks to recent advancements in extraction processes, CBD products are abundant & now heralded as a cure-all. Got a headache? CBD oil. Got joint pain? CBD balm. Can’t sleep? CBD bath bomb it is.
Thanks to rising consumption rates, we have a mammoth pile of anecdotal evidence in favour of CBD as a strong anti-inflammatory compound. As we know, the lion’s share of chronic illness is caused by inflammation (arthritis, endometriosis, even stress invokes an inflammatory response in the body), so adding CBD to our skincare routine seemed like the next natural step for manufacturers. The question is, does it actually make an iota of difference?
Based on what we know so far, the answer is yes. In my own personal experience, using our day cream (infused with 50mg of CBD) has brightened my complexion and shunned drier areas in my T-zone. I suffer from keratosis pilaris atrophicans faciei, a hereditary skin condition similar to rosacea that meant my cheeks were permanently red, bumpy and inflamed. For the first time in my life, I can say this is in complete remission thanks to my CBD skincare routine.
Anecdotes aside, one extensive study (“Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders”) by Sudhir M. Baswan and his team of researchers concluded that:
“A body of preclinical evidence suggests topical application of CBD may be efficacious for some skin disorders, such as eczema, psoriasis, pruritus, and inflammatory conditions” - he does go on to note that the underlying mechanisms for the study are yet to be identified, though this is not wholly uncommon in studies on the cannabis plant given its limited funding and availability for research. In other words, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD have been noted when applied topically.
Another study conducted on rats published in the European Journal of Pain in 2016 revealed that transdermal CBD gel “significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain”. As well as this, scientists noted that higher brain function was not altered following application of topical CBD - this means that CBD applied to the skin will not have any effect vs. sublingual (under the tongue) application of CBD oils in terms of alleviating mental symptoms such as anxiety and mental acuity.
Conclusively, I still feel more research is needed if we are to elucidate the underlying mechanisms behind the beneficial effects of CBD skincare on a clinical level. Given the vast amount of anecdotal evidence out there in favour of topical CBD, consumers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that adding the miracle compound to their skincare routine should have positive effects.