• Dr. Erica Oberg

CBD and Your Skin

Healthy, youthful skin is defined by its ability to maintain homeostasis. Skin is the largest organ in the human body, responsible for protecting the delicate inner functions of the body from the external environment, as well as participating in hormone activation and immune regulation. The epidermal cells have to maintain strong cell membranes with the appropriate fatty acid composition. The inner layers must be supplied with antioxidants and appropriate nutrients to ensure optimal cell replication, which involves DNA repair secondary to any oxidative stress such as UV or toxin exposure. Melanocytes and immune cells are also in this surface layer.  A strong epidermal layer ensures a strong physical barrier to environmental exposures that cause oxidative stress. Importantly, vitamin D production also begins here. The dermis contains sweat glands, sebaceous glands, nerve endings, and more specialized immune mediators/cytokines. Dysregulation (through oxidative stress) at the level of the dermis results in a number of skin conditions ranging from mild to severe - acne and wrinkling to auto-immune inflammation  and cancer.

To maintain healthy skin, the normal functions of the skin must remain in balance. Overstimulation can result in inflammation, irritation, overly rapid cell turnover and desquamation. Underactivity results in atrophy, dehydration, and degeneration. This is called maintaining homeostatis – the sweet spot of appropriate functionality that is adaptive and responsive to the changing environmental conditions.

A number of natural agents are known to promote homeostasis. Certain botanical extracts are particularly renowned for these properties and are term adaptogens. Many adapotgens work as weak agonists. That is, the bind weakly to receptors (for example, receptors on immune cells) and if that receptor is underactive, it stimulates activity. If the receptors are overactive and flooded with strong agonists, the adaptogen displaces some of the overstimulation by weakly binding, thus downregulating the effect. Common adaptogens include ginseng (panax spp), rhodiola rosea, ashwaganda (withania somnifera), and cannabidiol (Cannabis sativa constituent). Adaptogens are one potent strategy to maintain healthy skin homeostatis, and CBD is among the most potent.

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© 2020 by Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH