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Your endocannabinoid system is the secret to why cannabis skincare works

by | Jan 4, 2023 | Journal, Science, Skincare | 0 comments

Did you know that your body, including your skin, has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that responds to the compounds in cannabis? And that the cannabis plant produces phytocannabinoids that serve the very same function as the endocannabinoids that your body produces as part of this system?

You may not have heard of the endocannabinoid system before because it was discovered relatively recently, but we assure you it’s real. New (or misunderstood) bodily systems and organs are still being discovered. For example, did you catch the headline news in 2017 that scientists ‘discovered’ a new organ in the gut called mesentery, discussed here on CNN? Similar to the mesentery, your endocannabinoid system isn’t new; researchers just hadn’t figure it out yet. Scientists estimate that the human body developed the endocannabinoid system more than 600 million years ago.

The endocannabinoid system has been performing crucial functions that affect systems and organs throughout your body for millennia, and continues to.

“The ECS regulates and controls many of our most critical bodily functions, such as learning and memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperature control, pain control, inflammatory and immune responses, and eating,” writes Dr. Peter Grinspoon in a 2021 recent article published by Harvard Medical School.

Humans, like all vertebrates, from the clown fish to the kangaroo, share the endocannabinoid system as an essential part of life and adaptation to environmental changes.

Read on to understand what the endocannabinoid system is and does, and how cannabis skincare can aid in healing 14 common skin issues. 

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

Our bodies are constantly self-regulating to maintain homeostasis, or balance. “Scientists have identified that the ECS is in control of this body balance and it happens through advanced cellular communication that takes place at areas called cannabinoid receptors,” writes biologist Elise Bailey.

The ECS is the master regulator for every major system in the body, from the nervous, respiratory, digestive, and endocrine systems, to the reproductive, lymphatic, and immune systems. And everything in between.

“The ECS controls many basic biological processes…with direct involvement in pain control, mood and behavior, learning and memory, stress response, reproduction, fertility and pregnancy, food intake and energy balance, immune response [and more],” writes Dr. Rosaria Meccariello in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

The ECS also regulates our integumentary system, a.k.a. our skin, our body’s largest organ. 

Diagram of cannabinoid receptors in the layers of the skin, part of the body's endocannabinoid system.

What Happens When the Endocannabinoid System Doesn’t Function Properly?

Sometimes our bodies don’t produce enough natural endocannabinoids to maintain homeostasis in all of our bodily systems and organs that the endocannabinoid system regulates. Researchers have now given this phenomenon a medical name: Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency. Scientists are still researching the root cause of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency, but so far it looks like stress, trauma and toxins (including air pollution) are the main culprits. An imbalance in endocannabinoids can lead to a lower pain threshold; disruptions in digestion, mood, and sleep; skin disorders; and more, writes Dr. Ethan B. Russo in a research paper on Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency published in the National Library of Medicine.

“There are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than there are for all the neurotransmitters put together,” notes Dr. Ethan Russo, a board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher. Obviously that means the endocannabinoid system has the potential to have a powerful impact on the body. It’s a significant part of the makeup of every human being, and it can have a substantial effect on our health.

So how do we get our endocannabinoid system back in balance? This is where cannabis comes in.

How Topical Cannabis Helps Your Skin

So now you know that your body produces endocannabinoids (endo meaning within). These endocannabinoids signal to the many cannabinoid receptors all over your body — including every layer of your skin. These receptors are the gatekeepers of the endocannabinoid system: they read, translate, and transmit instructions.

Your cannabinoid receptors also respond to cannabis phytocannabinoids (phyto meaning plant), which work the same way as your body’s endocannabinoids. This means phytocannabinoids in cannabis can fill in when your body’s natural endocannabinoids are out of balance. Let that sink in. We had major AHA! moments when we discovered this. Cannabis really is a wonder-plant. And science is amazing.

Cannabis can be consumed via the lungs (smoking or vaping), eaten (tinctures or edibles), or topically applied to the skin, as with our skincare products and cannabis topicals.

There are cannabinoid receptors all over your skin, and in every layer of it, including the surface of the skin (epidermis), oil glands (sebaceous glands), hair follicles, nerves, immune cells, and subcutaneous fat. Because of this, cannabis skincare can aid in the healing of at least 14 common skin issues:

  1. Acne
  2. Inflammation
  3. Oxidation
  4. Aging
  5. Hydration
  6. Dry skin
  7. Oily
  8. Redness
  9. Tone
  10. Firmness
  11. Itchiness
  12. Immune response
  13. Environmental damage
  14. Hair growth

Don’t just take our word for it. While the half-century ban on cannabis research was only lifted recently, there’s still plenty of emerging research out now there explaining how your skin’s endocannabinoid system influences and balances every layer, cell, and component of your skin. Here’s a good one if you’d like to dive deeper: Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential, published in the journal Molecules in 2019. It covers acne, atopic dermatitis, fibrosis, hair growth, inflammation, itch, psoriasis, tumors, wound healing, and more.

Cannabis Adapts to Your Skin’s Specific Needs

Customized skincare, or personalized skincare, is one of the biggest trends in skincare today. From mobile apps to machine learning algorithms, online quizzes to IRL consultations, custom blends with your name on the label to artificial intelligence (AI), skincare is going bespoke. But all of the solutions coming to market are customized by someone, or something, external to you.

Cannabis skincare is true personalized skincare, because the compounds in cannabis signal to endocannabinoid system receptors in your skin to bring balance. Regardless of what the imbalance is. So for example, the same cannabis facial serum can balance both the over-production and under-production of oil, by signaling to the endocannabinoid receptors in the surface of your skin and in your sebaceous (oil) glands. One cannabis skincare product can remedy both dry skin and oily skin — something no other skincare has been able to do.

Research suggests that CBD may be especially good for balancing oily and acne-prone skin, while THC is especially good for moisturizing dry skin, although both help at either end of the spectrum, and CBD and THC work best together to trigger the famous entourage effect.   

Skin Cell Turnover and Inflammation

Research also shows that a healthy ECS encourages cell turnover in the skin, promoting the healthy shedding of dead skin cells and their subsequent replacement with younger skin cells.

Additionally, we know the skin has its own immune system, and scientific studies suggest that balancing the skin’s ECS can soothe or prevent skin inflammation: 

“Although the best studied functions over the ECS are related to the central nervous system and to immune processes, experimental efforts over the last two decades have unambiguously confirmed that cutaneous cannabinoid signaling is deeply involved in the maintenance of skin homeostasis, barrier formation and regeneration, and its dysregulation was implicated to contribute to several highly prevalent diseases and disorders, e.g., atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, scleroderma, acne, hair growth and pigmentation disorders, keratin diseases, various tumors, and itch.” [Source]

More research is needed on exactly how a healthy ECS influences every part of the skin, but it’s already clear that it provides myriad benefits.

Nourishing Your Skin’s Endocannabinoid System with Topical Cannabis

Cannabis topicals address and soothe a number of skin discomforts. Our extremely loyal customers (Beelievers) will tell you that skin health definitely improves when the endocannabinoid system is properly replenished. 

The most important way you can support your skin’s endocannabinoid system is through using phytocannabinoid-rich topical products. These products can be derived from both cannabis and hemp, though they will contain varying levels of phytocannabinoid content. 

At Green Bee Botanicals, we help replenish your skin’s endocannabinoid system with vegan, cruelty-free, reef-safe cannabis and hemp skincare and body care products. All of our products are made with organic, Sun+Earth certified cannabis and hemp grown under the California sun at local Sonoma Hills Farm.

Our award-winning hemp products — CBD-rich Fresh Face Toner, CBG-rich Quench Moisturizer, and accessories — are available nationwide right from our hemp website.

Hydrating ingredients in skincare

Our multiple-award winning original cannabis products include our Renewing Face Serum, Perfecting Face Serum, Brightening Eye Cream, and pain-relieving Deep Calm Massage & Body Oil. Because of federal regulations, our cannabis products are currently available only in California dispensaries and direct from our website for next-day home delivery; see where you can buy here.

Photo of four Green Bee Botanicals cannabis-infused skincare products, including Brightening Eye Cream, Renewing Serum, Deep Calm Massage Oil and Perfecting Serum, surrounded by fresh flowers. Photo by Pamela Palma


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