cannabis-acne
Bacne - acne on the back. Photo: James Heilman, MD

Bacne – acne on the back. Photo: James Heilman, MD

Acne vulgaris occurs when the skin secretes too much oil, which blocks pores. It troubled almost everyone in their teenage years. Now it looks as if cannabis-derived topical treatments could be used for acne.

What acne is

Acne covers a range of dermatological conditions, such as blackheads, pimples, whiteheads and even cysts. It usually manifests itself on the face, neck and back. It’s thought to affect 80 percent of British people aged 11 to 30. It strikes most often between the ages of 16 and 19 in boys and 14 and 17 in girls. It frequently causes depression in teenagers, particularly girls. Being a visual condition, it will affect a person’s self confidence. It’s the most common skin problem in the Western world.

Not even adults are spared

Five percent of wimmen and one percent of men continue to suffer from acne into adulthood. In 2016, there was a 200 percent increase in the number of adults seeking treatment for acne in the United Kingdom.

How cannabis can help

Lacking fur, humans produce oil, so the skin can protect itself. The sebaceous glands, the ones that make oil, contain cannabinoid receptors. Hence cannabinoids – the chemicals found in cannabis – will affect them.

Cannabidiol (CBD), the second most-prevalent chemical in cannabis, doesn’t get you stoned like tetrahdrocannabinol (THC), the most prevalent, does. In 2014, the Journal of Clinical Investigation noted that CBD controls the output of oil in the skin. It doesn’t dehydrate your skin as many acne treatment products do. Another study in 2014 found that CBD was a “highly effective” sebostatic agent, ie one that hampered the sebaceous glands.

Treatment not just for acne but also the scars

In addition to treating acne, CBD can improve the scars that result from it. When the skin is damaged, collagen is produced by the immune system to avoid further infection. CBD oil regulates collagen.

And don’t forget stress

Stress is believed to cause acne, and smoking cannabis can relieve that (except when it doesn’t; some people become more anxious).

No, cannabis doesn’t cause acne

Cannabis has in the past been accused of causing acne because THC increases the amount of oil in the skin. Yes, it does cause a sudden spike in testosterone, after which there is a drop. This is the male sex hormone, and an excess of it gets your sebaceous glands going. Dermatologist Dr Bobby Buka highlighted that the increase in testosterone is only between three and five percent. A great deal of cannabis would have to be smoked to worsen acne: “We’re talking about buckets and buckets of weed. Nothing any human could smoke.”

… although the shit you eat when you get the munchies will

Dr Buka pointed out that the danger of cannabis lay in the munchies. So someone might consume much sugary food after smoking dope, and that’s bad for acne. The solution is to have healthier snack options. You can swap regular crisps chock full of artificial seasoning for organic ones and exchange artificially coloured and sweetened confectionery for organic options. Or you could use a different strain of cannabis because they don’t all cause the munchies.

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