Discover supporting research and information on how cannabidiol (CBD) relates to the treatment of Acne.
Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts. The most common areas that these blemishes are found are on the upper body, primarily around the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms. Most commonly this condition occurs during young age, especially during puberty when the sebaceous glands activate.
This skin condition is the most common in the United States affecting up to 50 million Americans each year. Over 85 percent of people in the US experience acne of some kind between ages 12 and 24 years old. The immediate visual appearance of acne has been studied to cause other self-esteem issues like depression or social anxiety.
There are varying signs that point to acne. The following are ordered by severity:
- Whiteheads (closed, clogged pores)
- Blackheads (open, clogged pores)
- Papules (small, tender red bumps)
- Pimples (small, tender red bumps with white puss at the tip)
- Nodules (large, painful lumps beneath the skin's surface)
- Cysts (large, painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the skin's surface)
What Causes Acne?
The skin is lined with pores that connect to oil glands under the surface. Follicles, small sacs that produce and secrete liquid, connect the glands to the pores. These glands produce an oily liquid called sebum. Sebum carries dead skin cells to the surface of the skin through the follicles. Each follicle has a small hair that grows out through the surface of the skin.
When these follicles become blocked, oil builds up under the skin. As a result, skin cells, sebum, and hair will plug the pore. The blockage becomes infected with bacteria resulting in swelling and redness. The bacterial propionibacterium acnes (p. acnes) lives on the skin and contributes to the infection.
Triggers & Contributing Factors
The following triggers are known to increase the risk of acne:
- drugs containing corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium.
- greasy cosmetics
- hormonal changes (puberty)
Treating Acne with CBD
Acne is a common skin disease characterized by elevated sebum production and inflammation of the sebaceous glands. A growing body of research has suggested that CBD may be a safe and efficient topical for reducing this inflammation and reducing sebum production. These properties may reduce the appearance, severity, & occurrence of acne. Additionally, other cannabis compounds including CBC, CBDV, and THCV show promise to become 'highly efficient, novel anti-acne agents'.
Research and anecdotal evidence focus mainly on the treatment of acne through the use of topical CBD. While on-site application directly targets the infected and inflamed areas, ingesting CBD in other forms may help reduce symptoms in addition to the other known benefits, though research has not directly correlated the two.
Notable Research Summary
- A 2008 study showed that sebaceous gland dysfunctions including acne and dry skin should be further researched. (1)
- A 2010 study claimed that CBD may be more efficient than vitamin A derivatives like Accutane. (3)
- A 2014 study stated "due to the combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris." (4)
- "Our data suggest that CBG and CBGV may have potential in the treatment of dry-skin syndrome, whereas CBC, CBDV and especially THCV show promise to become highly efficient, novel anti-acne agents. Moreover, based on their remarkable anti-inflammatory actions, phytocannabinoids could be efficient, yet safe novel tools in the management of cutaneous inflammations." (6)
Use topical products as recommended.
For more information, see our dosage guidelines for CBD.
- Endocannabinoids enhance lipid synthesis and apoptosis of human sebocytes via cannabinoid receptor-2-mediated signaling. (October 2008) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18596221
- The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. (Aug 2009) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19608284
- Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Acne? (2010) – http://www.beyondthc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/CBD-for-Acne.pdf
- Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes. (July 2014) – https://www.jci.org/articles/view/64628
- The safety and efficacy of 3% Cannabis seeds extract cream for reduction of human cheek skin sebum and erythema content. (July 2015) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26142529
- Differential effectiveness of selected non-psychotropic phytocannabinoids on human sebocyte functions implicates their introduction in dry/seborrhoeic skin and acne treatment. (September 2016) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27094344
The contents of this page are not medical advice. Please seek professional medical assistance for any condition and before starting, stoping, or changing medication or supplements.