Ask a Nurse: How to Use Cannabis for Healthy Skin

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it’s also one of the hardest-working. Every day it protects you from dangers large and small, and it faces an enormous amount of stress from UV rays, bacteria, viruses, pollution, and literally thousands of man-made chemicals. Yet the skin is also remarkably supple and resilient, and it can heal itself from incredible traumas. There are many ways you can help keep your skin healthy and strong, and one of the most effective — and surprising — could be cannabis.

Specifically, it could be cannabis’ phytocannabinoids, which are chemical compounds like CBD and THC. These are remarkably similar to a group of chemicals produced inside the human body called endocannabinoids. Both types of compounds — which we can refer to collectively as ‘cannabinoids’ for simplicity’s sake — help regulate the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a network of receptors responsible for maintaining homeostasis, or cellular balance, in the skin (along with many other functions).

The ECS accomplishes this by activating — or deactivating — cells in your body’s integumentary system, or IS. This is your body’s first line of defense, composed of all the layers of the skin, hair, nails, and exocrine glands. Nearly all the cells of the IS have receptors that respond to cannabinoids, including those in epidermal keratinocytes, melanocytes, mast cells, fibroblasts, sebocytes, sweat gland cells, as well as certain cell populations of hair follicles. The abilities of these cells to communicate disorder or disease (and potentially counteract such issues) is promising for many inflammatory skin conditions, as well as hair loss.

When the ECS (and, by extension, the IS) is working correctly, your skin will show it. Just as it becomes discolored or swollen when injured, when it’s healthy there are telltale signs you will see. For example, healthy skin is smooth, with no breaks in the surface. It will also be warm (not hot or red) and neither dry and flaky nor moist and wrinkled. In short, it will be balanced — healthy skin is a mirror of a healthy body.

What Your Skin Needs to Be Healthy (and How Cannabis Can Help)

Keeping the skin healthy isn’t just about protecting it from physical injury or the sun’s damaging UV light. It also pertains to things like diet and stress management. Things like drinking plenty of water or eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein are all important to maintaining healthy tissue — and so is taking the time to relax. 

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