The therapeutic applications of cannabis and cannabinoids are an increasingly conspicuous topic as de-criminalization and legalization of these products continues to expand. A limited number of cannabinoid compounds have been approved for a specific set of conditions. However, the current role of cannabinoids for the treatment of dermatologic conditions remains to be defined. We conducted a review of the current literature to determine the applications of cannabinoids for the therapy of various skin diseases. After conducting our analysis, we found that cannabinoid products have the potential to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne vulgaris, allergic contact dermatitis, asteatotic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, Kaposi sarcoma, pruritus, psoriasis, skin cancer, and the cutaneous manifestations of systemic sclerosis. However, the majority of available data on these compounds are pre-clinical and there is a corresponding lack of high-quality randomized, controlled trials that evaluate their effects. Cannabinoids have shown some initial promise as therapy for a variety of skin diseases. However, there is a requirement for thorough pre-clinical research and large-scale, randomized, controlled trials before cannabinoids can be considered safe and effective treatments for these conditions.
6. Carson, C. F., Hammer, K. A., & Riley, T. V. (2006). Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clinical microbiology reviews, 19(1), 50–62.
4. Oláh, A., Tóth, B., et al. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes. The Journal of clinical investigation, 124(9), 3713–3724.
Additionally, the Canadian launch of Pura Earth is potentially the first step in a long-term national strategy which may include the regulatory pathway to commercialize CBD topical products across cosmetic, over the counter and natural health product designations.
9. Tsai, T. H., Chuang, L. T., et al, (2013). Rosmarinus officinalis extract suppresses Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammatory responses. Journal of medicinal food, 16(4), 324–333.
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Rosemary and Tea Tree Gel: Water-based gel contains beta-caryophyllene and tea tree extract that are known to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties 5-7 . In addition, rosemary oil extract has demonstrated actions against the symptomatic treatment of acne 8,9 . In Avicanna’s clinical study, the Rosemary and Tea Tree Gel was investigated for its short- and long-term effects on skin hydration and sebum (oil) production on acne-prone or oily skin. The results showed significant increase in skin hydration and a significant decrease in oiliness in 93% of participants who had oily skin.
27. Luca M, Luca A, Musumeci ML, Fiorentini F, Micali G, Calandra C. Psychopathological Variables and Sleep Quality in Psoriatic Patients. Int J Mol Sci. 2016;17(7).
19. Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016;20(6):936-948.
42. Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):16-005.
The Mind-Body Connection
The mind-body connection is especially relevant to dermatology. There is ample evidence that sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression can adversely impact dermatologic disorders. A vicious cycle can occur because the dermatologic disorders can exacerbate anxiety, depression, and sleep. Several studies demonstrate CBD’s utility in these psychological conditions.
41. Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226.
Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Briefly, Cannabis sativa has two different strains of plants. One strain, marijuana, is high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive phytocannabinoid. THC is the chemical in marijuana that is intoxicating—colloquially known as the “high.” The other strain, hemp, is high in cannabidiol (CBD), a biologically active anti-inflammatory antioxidant phytocannabinoid. Hemp has less than 0.03% THC, and therefore is not intoxicating and has low abuse potential.
Cannabinoids in Dermatology
2. Jhawar N, Schoenberg E, Wang JV, Saedi N. The growing trend of cannabidiol in skincare products. Clin Dermatol. 2019;37(3):279-281.
20. Philpott HT, O’Brien M, McDougall JJ. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain. 2017;158(12):2442-2451.