Dear Nurse Susan,
Lately I have been seeing all these new skin care products and cosmetics made from hemp and cannabis. What are the skin benefits of hemp and cannabis, or is this just a marketing scheme?
Dear Sensitive Skin,
First, let me explain the different cannabis-ingredients that you may run across while you are in the beauty isle. Not all cannabis/hemp products are created equal, so here is some information that will help you chose the product you are looking for.
Cannabis is well-known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-aging properties. Whole-plant cannabis oil contains cannabinoids (THCA, CBD, CBC, etc.) and terpenes (lavender, pinene, limonene, etc.) and you will find them at your local dispensary. Terpenes are the essential oils in cannabis that give it its fragrance. They also have therapeutic effects but are easily lost (volatile) unless the cannabis is cold pressed and has not been exposed to heat or sunlight. If heat is used in the processing of the flowers, terpenes will be lost but they can be added later in the processing. Cannabinoids and terpenes are produced in the resin glands, or trichomes, of the female flower.
There are specific cannabinoids and terpenes that are beneficial to your skin’s health. So, when selecting products look for these compounds that address a variety of skin issues:
- Acne: CBD, CBC, THC, a-terpineol, limonene and linalool.
- Burns: CBD, CBN, THC, linalool, and borneol.
- Herpes Simplex 2: THC and eucalyptol.
- Bacterial infection: CBD, CBC, CBG, b-caryophyllene, limonene, a-pinene.
- Fungal infection: CBC, CBG, CBCA, limonene, eucalyptol, terpinolene.
- MRSA infection: CBD, CBC, CBG, b-caryophyllene, a-pinene, a-terpineol.
- Viral infection: CBC, CBD, CBG, a-terpineol, eucalyptol, b-ocimene.
- Inflammation: THCA, CBD, THC, b-caryophyllene, b-myrcene, a-pinene.
- Itching: THC, b-caryophyllene.
- Pain (local anesthetic): linalool, b-caryophyllene.
- Melanoma: THC, CBD, b-myrcene, camphene.
- Psoriasis: THC, CBD, THCA, camphene.
- Reddened skin: CBG, CBD, linalool, borneol.
Products that contain CBD with little to no THC can be purchased online or in retail stores. Products with CBD are usually made from hemp or a CBD isolate. You will get some benefits from these products, due to the CB2 receptors in your skin, but not like the list above. Whole-plant cannabis products are almost always superior in their therapeutic effects.
Finally, products that contain hemp seed oil, may try to ride the coat tails of cannabis/hemp products, but don’t be fooled! There are NO cannabinoids or terpenes in the seeds of the hemp plant, and when it comes to therapeutic benefits, look for an ingredient list that includes “cannabis oil” or “CBD” and is lab tested. But that is not to say that hemp seed oil isn’t worth exploring! Hemp seed oil is a nutrient-rich moisturizer for the skin. Hemp seed oil contains a balanced ratio of omega 3, 6, and 9 that protect and moisturize the skin.
So Sensitive Skin, if you have skin issues, try the whole-plant cannabis products with the cannabinoids and terpenes listed above; if you can’t access cannabis where you live, purchase a CBD product online or at a good health-food store; and finally, hemp seed oil is wonderful, but remember there are NO cannabinoids and terpenes, so its therapeutic effects are limited.
At the end of this article I’ve included a couple of video links so you can see some of the cannabis skin care applications currently being used. And, if you’d like to better understand the basics of hemp and hemp seeds, this link will take you to an article I’ve written to explain more about the uses of hemp for health.
All the best in your quest for better health using the wonderful cannabis plant!
(Susan Marks RN, BSN, PHN writes for CityWatch and is a medical cannabis educator and consultant based in Los Angeles. You can contact her at email@example.com)