The study of the skin is one area of research in which medical cannabis is showing real promise. The chemicals contained in cannabis, known as cannabinoids, have been proven to interact strongly with the endocannabinoid system in the human body.
This system is strongly connected to the brain, skin and nervous system. A large number of studies have examined why and how cannabinoids can be used in the treatment of skin disorders.
Endocannabinoids represent a class of endogenous lipid mediators that are involved in various biological processes, both centrally and peripherally. The prototype member of this group of compounds, anandamide, regulates cell growth, differentiation and death.
This holds true in the skin, the largest organ of the body. The skin is constantly exposed to physical, chemical, bacterial and fungal attacks. The epidermis is a keratinized multi-stratified epithelium that functions as a barrier to protect the organism from dehydration, mechanical trauma, and microbial insults. Epidermal differentiation represents one of the best characterized mechanisms of cell specialization.
This review summarizes the current knowledge about the main members of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), in order to put in a better perspective the manifold roles that the ECS plays in skin pathophysiology.
In particular, it discusses some aspects of the molecular regulation by endocannabinoids of proliferation and terminal differentiation (also known as cornification) of mammalian epidermis. It shows that the ECS is finely regulated by, and can interfere with, the differentiation program.
In addition, it reviews the evidence demonstrating that disruption of this fine regulation might cause different skin diseases, such as acne, seborrhoea, allergic dermatitis, psoriasis and hair follicle regression (known as catagen).
This paper is an excellent and thorough explanation of why the ECS continues to be an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. In short, it explains why focusing on the endocannabinoid system in the treatment of skin disorders shows promise for the future of dermatology.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.