Everyone knows that fatty acids are important, and most people know they can be found in seeds, nuts, and many types of fish. Recently, however, scientists have discovered an unlikely source of these vital nutrients — the cannabis plant.
While some of the chemicals in cannabis — such as the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) — are relatively well-known, few people are familiar with the plant’s other offerings. However, studies now show that the plant is rich in essential oils and fatty acids, which has important implications for cannabis’ role in skin care.
Several of the most important fatty acids, like omega-3, can’t be produced by the human body, so we need to get them from external sources. If we don’t, our hair and skin can become brittle, dry, and dull. Here’s where cannabis has an advantage over other sources — not only is it rich in fatty acids, it also helps the body produce other beneficial chemicals by stimulating the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system. It’s a two-for-one deal, and it’s the main reason cannabis could quickly replace that jar of fish oil capsules in your medicine cabinet.
But what do cannabis’ fatty acids actually do?
Taking advantage of cannabis’ rich fatty acid content is as easy as swallowing a softgel or two. Here’s why they make a great addition to your morning routine:
It’s long been known that some fatty acids can increase the rate of hair growth, or even promote growth in areas that have been badly affected by skin issues (and suffered hair loss as a result). Hair loss can be caused by a wide range of conditions, ranging from alopecia to fungal scalp problems. But regardless of the cause, scientists think that fatty acids could help reverse the effects.
A number of studies have measured the effects of taking fatty acid supplements on hair loss and regrowth, and they’ve shown overwhelmingly that the supplements had a positive impact on the participants’ conditions. This is great news for anyone who’s trying to recover lost hair or simple slow the natural thinning of hair as they age.
The health and wellness industry has wired our brains to be terrified of the word “fat,” but the truth is that there are many “good fats” that our bodies couldn’t live without — and fatty acids are one of the best examples.
People who have a high intake of fatty acids tend to have fewer problems with dry hair and skin. This is because fatty acids help keep the body hydrated, giving a softer, more supple appearance. They can even make skin problems like eczema much less severe by relieving dry, itchy skin.
Fatty acids can support the production of keratin — tough, fibrous proteins that are the “building blocks” of hair (interestingly, they’re also the main component of your nails). Strong hair is rich in keratin, while a lack of it can leave hair weak and breakable.
Some of the fatty acids that are found in cannabis plants and their derivatives such as hemp seed oil have also been proven to increase the circulation of nutrient-rich blood to the root of the hair follicle. This ensures that the follicle has everything it needs to grow stronger and faster.
While you might not be surprised to learn that skin which is rich in fatty acids is less likely to be dry and flaky, you probably didn’t know that it’s also less likely to suffer from sun damage. Many of the oils contained in fatty acids have protective properties and are believed to add a natural SPF layer to the surface of the skin.
This is a major benefit of fatty acids as sun damage is one of the most common skin problems today. Aside from the obvious risk of cancer, excessive exposure to the sun also ages the skin considerably. If you want to add an anti-aging element to your skin care routine, cannabis-derived products are an effective way to both restore and protect your complexion.
The cannabis plant is surprisingly rich in natural anti-inflammatories, and while fatty acids might not attract the attention of their sexier counterparts like CBD, they can still be quite effective. They have a wide range of potential applications, too, as many common skin problems (such as acne) are caused by inflammation.
Although it’s a natural immune response to infection or injury, excessive inflammation can cause redness, swelling, itching, irritation, and pain. Over-the-counter and prescription topical treatments can work well to reduce the symptoms, but these often come with a long list of potential side effects.
Scientific studies show the fatty acids found in cannabis can yield the same relief without any of the potential side effects, making cannabis-derived treatments a clearly superior option.