Your skin is one of the most advanced barrier systems in the world. It protects us by providing an extensive network of glands, lipophobicity ("lipid/oil-hating"), and a well-stocked platform for beneficial microbes. It stands as one of our major connections to the outside world. We're going to dive in and discuss the ongoing studies on topical CBD applications for pain management.
As we all know, evidence of the medicinal use of CBD goes back thousands of years. Still, it also goes beyond the regularly discussed oral (inhalation and consumption) routes of administration. Indeed, evidence of Persian remedies for headaches includes Cannabis extracts mixed with other ingredients such as garlic, camphor, and spearmint that were applied topically depending on the type of headache the person was experiencing. In ancient Egypt, mixtures of Cannabis flower and honey were used topically to help with the pain of childbirth. In China and Europe, in centuries past, cannabis poultices and other ingredients were applied directly to wounds to help with healing.
We've discussed the importance of the endocannabinoid system in our other CBD blogs. Many of you know how essential it is in regulatory actions taken by the brain and body. It should come as no surprise that our skin is also connected to this vast network of feedback pathways. Dermatologists are excited for, and demanding more in-depth research on CBD products, and studies are being performed and have even been published regarding wound closure and healing. The average usage of topical CBD for pain management has shown a decrease in opioid usage and an overall average decrease of 3.5 points (0-10) on the pain index scale. Decreased skin-fold thickness was also seen in many of these cases, leading to less noticeable scarring and increased dermatological function at the wound site. While large-scale studies are still being performed on CBD topicals for pain and healing, many small-scale studies have concluded, and the information they provide is very promising. For these reasons, many dermatologists are suggesting the use of topical cannabinoids already.
Studies of topical CBD for pain management show great promise in assisting with many other ailments. The well-known and documented anti-inflammatory action many cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and THC possess may bring relief to patients experiencing anything from mild allergic reactions to lupus and more.
Since CB1 and CB2 receptors are found extensively throughout the skin, how do we get past the lipophobic nature of this protective barrier on our bodies? The answer is twofold: we do, and we don't. Both, as it turns out, work immensely well. Based on wound closure and pain management of open sores, the skin's barrier isn't an issue: lipophilic molecules such as those in CBD skin care products and other CBD topical compounds pass right through. On the other hand, many users (17% of adult cannabis users in Canada based on surveys done 2017-2020) use topical applications containing cannabinoids for general pain and minor ailments.
Online CBD topical have increased 100-fold per year since 2018. This works because the cannabinoid receptors are embedded in all layers of the skin, including the upper epidermis (surface) layer, in the same way, sensory nerves are, so cannabinoids don't have to penetrate far to be effective. Using other known beneficial compounds, such as essential oils, can assist in this pass-through naturally without causing any side effects.
Another exciting aspect of topical CBD regarding pain management is its effect on dermal and epidermal opioid receptors. Now, we know that cannabinoids don't act on opioid receptors in the body like morphine or other opium-related compounds. Still, when put on the skin, they register a natural reaction from the body to turn these receptors on and control the management of pain (also called nociception) internally. Even those with intractable pain discussed in recently published studies ( links are below), topically applied cannabis extracts show a practical and measured difference compared to no use. Through the direct interaction with CB1 and CB2 receptors or indirect interaction through TRP ion channels, topical CBD is part of the widening future of Cannabis sativa.
As discussed previously, the range of ailments topical cannabinoid studies have already given us information on is vast and promising, from CBD for acne, psoriasis, pruritus, and dermatitis to more severe conditions such as scleroderma, dermatomyositis (skin and muscle inflammation), cutaneous lupus erythematosus (skin diseases related to lupus), epidermolysis bullosa (fragile, blistering skin), general pain, skin cancer, and wound healing/closure. Through the CB1 and CB2 receptors and TRP ion channels, cannabinoids (specifically THC and CBD) have been shown to affect the growth, proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis of keratinocytes (keratin-creating cells), melanocytes (melanin-forming cell), adnexal structures (ovary and uterine cells), and fibroblasts (creates extracellular matrix and collagen). This all means the overall effect of CBD for skin homeostasis supports a considerable therapeutic dermatological potential.
Although studies are still being conducted, the evidence and information being put out by clinical small-scale testing are extremely promising. Due to what we've learned about the botanical applications of many different plant species, we have a window into the final result of all that we'll learn from the topical application of Cannabis. Please keep checking our blog for more updates in the future. Cannabinoids are certainly part of it!
Check the links below for more information.
Disclaimer: The Blackhouse Botanicals Blog is for informational purposes only and does not replace professional medical advice. While we strive to provide quality links and studies, using the information in this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user's own risk. Users should seek professional medical advice for any medical condition they may have. By using blackhousebotanicals.com, the user agrees that this website does not constitute a replacement for health and fitness advice from a professional provider.