Skin has the Busiest Endocannabinoid System
Endocannabinoid System and Skin
by the cannabis access resource & education center

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We asked John Karapelou, a noted illustrator, to visualize CB1 and CB2 receptor expression in the skin. Nice work!

Skin is our largest organ. Our every movement relies on skin to stretch and regain its shape and size. Our skin's endocannabinoid system's function is to keep skin in top condition. Healthy skin acts as an effective barrier against the environment.

Scientists only discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within the skin during the last 25 years. Most recent research investigations are in the emerging field of cannabis based cosmetics. Some research involves cannabidiol (CBD), derived from hemp, as CBD might have been the easiest cannabinoid to acquire for research purposes. Other cannabinoids being considered for topical application are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabigerol (CBG).

Cannabinoid receptors allow different body systems to communicate. Skin cannabinoid (CB) receptors, at the ends of sensory nerves, in hair follicles, immune cells, mast cells, sweat glands, sebaceous glands and epidermis, allow for sensory perceptions of touch, pressure, vibration, temperature, pain, and itch to travel the endocannabinoid system's pathways.

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 An Overview: Cannabis Infused Topicals
Curious about rubbing cannabis on your skin? Understand how topicals might work. Learn about topical oils and patches. Read a case study. Part of the Cannabis Resource Library by The Cannabis Access Resource and Education Center.
Cannabis Resource Library | | 2017
Anti-inflammatory Activity of topical THC in Mouse Allergy Dermatitis
Researchers found topically applied THC can effectively reduce contact allergic inflammation in mice by decreasing keratinocyte-derived pro-inflammatory mediators that orchestrate myeloid immune cell infiltration independent of CB1 /2 receptors.
Scholarly Article | | 2013
Anti-inflammatory Traits Helped Heal Skin of Mice
Mice had a harder time healing from wounds when researchers blocked their endocannabinoids, as well as, they healed faster from skin allergies with topically applied THC.
Article | | 2007
Attenuation of Allergic Contact Dermatitis Through the Endocannabinoid System
The skin's endocannabinoid system is activated during a contact allergic outbreak. Stimulation of skin's CB receptors reduces the inflammation. Scientists, working with mice, found that topical application of D9-THC reduced allergic inflammation points. [PDF 4p]
Report | | 2007
Body's Own Cannabis is Good for the Skin, Scientists Find
"Just as THC is believed to protect the marijuana plants from pathogens, our own cannabinoids may be necessary for us to maintain healthy skin and to protect us from pathogens."
--Dr. Gerald Weissmann.
Article | | 2008
Cannabinoid System in the Skin
A review and summary of the cannabinoid system in the cutaneous physiology and pathology, compiled just after the discovery of cannabinoid receptors in skin. Includes:
Scholarly Article | | 2009
Cannabinoids may Soothe certain Skin Diseases, say Researchers
According to researchers at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties that could make them useful in the treatment skin disease systems, such as pain and itch. The study was based on laboratory models and large-scale clinical trials have not been performed.
Article | | 2017
Cannabis and Skin Itching: 100 Years of Interrupted Medical Research
A doctor's note from 1881, a 2002 case report, a review, and an animal study in 2009, plus a 2012 investigation, all provide early evidence that cannabis may relieve itching.
Article | | 2017
CBD vs. THC Topicals – What's the Difference?
Nurse Practitioner Eloise Theisen answers the question, "How do I know when to use a THC topical or a CBD topical?"
Questions & Answers | | 2017
Distribution of CB1 and CB2 on Sensory Nerve Fibers and Anexal Structures in Human Skin
"CB1 and CB2 immunoreactivity were observed in cutaneous nerve fibre bundles, mast cells, macrophages, epidermal keratinocytes, and the epithelial cells of hair follicles, sebocytes and eccrine sweat glands. In epidermal keratinocytes, hair follicle and sebaceous glands, CB1 and CB2 were distributed in a complementary fashion. Double-immunostaining with an anti-CGRP antibody suggested the presence of cannabinoid receptors on small afferent peptidergic nerves."
--Sonja Ständer, Martin Schmelz, Dieter Metze, Thomas Luger, Roman Rukwied.
Scholarly Abstract | | 2005
Skin Needs CB1 Receptors to Heal
Mice, six hours after being inflicted with skin incisions, increased CB1 receptors at the injury site. CB1 expressing cells numbers peaked at five days post-injury and reduced to baseline levels within two weeks.
Animal Study | | 2010
Study: Anandamide May Fight Aggressive Skin Cancer
Drake Dorm, contributor for Medical Jane, points out that researchers have studied phytocannabinoids and cancer, and are also studying how endocannabinoids fight against cancer.
Article | | 2015
The Cutaneous ECS in Balance and in Tisruption
A look at endocannabinoid system's physiology of healthy skin with evidence of ECS involvement in certain skin diseases.
Author Manuscript | | 2009
The Surprising Benefits of using Cannabis Cream
Skin Deep #1: Delilah Butterfield explains how and why cannabis applied topically can help soothe irritated, inflamed, and painful skin conditions.
Article | | 2016
University of Canberra leads $1m medical cannabis trial for skin cancer
The University of Canberra and Cann Pharmaceutical are currently conducting a medical-grade cannabis therapy coupled with the current standard care for melanoma patients trial.
News Release | | 2016