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The buzz around CBD products, fact vs. fiction.

I am happy to report that much of the buzz about cannabidiol (CBD) is fact, at least the part that concerns its skin benefits.

Let’s look into the science of CBD and the science of skin and their interaction. The most important thing? There are receptors in the skin that recognize CBD.

The skin is one of the many organs equipped with the endocannabinoid system. You may have heard about anandamine. Discovered by Raphael Mechoulam in 1992, this is one excellent detective story. He said: if humans have receptors for cannabinoids CB1, and CB2, there has to be a natural chemical in the body that binds to those receptors. Mechoulam and his coworkers found and characterized that natural chemical, anandamide; 2-arachidonoylglycerol is another natural ligand.

It happens that the skin also has receptors for anandamide. There is not much we can do to increase our endogenous anandamide levels, although chocolate contains chemicals resembling anandamide, and I do not doubt that chocolate helps anything and everything. The good news is that cannabidiol (CBD) is now allowed in skincare products, and CBD could help with some skin problems. Let me tell you why.

The cannabinoid signaling system extends to the skin and helps maintain skin homeostasis, barrier formation, and regeneration. Disruption of the cutaneous cannabinoid system may be involved in several skin diseases and disorders, including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, scleroderma, acne, hair loss, pigmentation disorders, keratin diseases, and itch.

This research is relatively new, so we should keep our eyes open for future confirmation (or reversals). In the meantime, let’s take with caution the assertion that anandamide may be linked to hypertrophic scars. I would concentrate on the most immediate effects of endogenous cannabinoids and say, with confidence, that they are involved in pain and itch.

We can now add cannabidiol topically and “top-up” our skin’s endogenous cannabinoids for when we need them most.  For example, when my skin hurts or itches, I have ELS with CBD that I keep on my desk and bathroom and apply it to itchy scars and skin. From what I read, I can expect some extra benefits, like faster healing and increased immune competence, but my first need is for CBD to calm my skin. It works for me, and I hope it will work for you, too.

You will find CBD in a cream and a serum by Skin Actives.


Bíró, T., Tóth, B. I., Haskó, G., Paus, R., & Pacher, P. (2009). The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 30(8), 411–420. doi:10.1016/

Di Tomaso, E., Beltramo, M., & Piomelli, D. (1996). Brain cannabinoids in chocolate. Nature, 382(6593), 677–678. doi:10.1038/382677a0

Tóth, K., Ádám, D., Bíró, T., Oláh, A., 2019. Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the “C(ut)annabinoid” System. Molecules. doi:10.3390/molecules24050918

Maccarrone, M., Bab, I., Bíró, T., Cabral, G. A., Dey, S. K., Di Marzo, V., … Zimmer, A. (2015). Endocannabinoid signaling at the periphery: 50 years after THC. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 36(5), 277–296. doi:10.1016/

Slominski, AT, Michal A Zmijewski, Przemyslaw M Plonka, Jerzy P Szaflarski, Ralf Paus (2018) How UV Light Touches the Brain and Endocrine System Through Skin, and Why.  Endocrinology. 2018 May; 159: 1992–2007. doi: 10.1210/en.2017-03230
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