Cannabis plant material and the human skin

Among the family of Cannabaceae plants, there are three common species: Cannabis sativa L, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis Janisch. Among the chemical compounds extracted from these plants, there are phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Phytocannabinoids have a beneficial effect on the skin and hair. Some studies led to the discovery of endocannabinoids: chemical compounds that are produced by the mammalian organism on its own [Schicho & Storr, 2012; Giacoppo et al, 2015]. From the very beginning of time, cannabinoids have attracted the attention of scientists with their therapeutic potential in the treatment of various disorders, mainly as an anti-inflammatory drug. Active cannabinoids have shown their effectiveness in treating various types of skin diseases, including dermatitis, eczema and acne. Cannabinoids reduce inflammation and support the natural barrier functions of the skin [Stander et al, 2005; Svizenska et al, 2008; Pertwee, 2008]. It has been shown that cannabis contributes to the anti-inflammatory activity of the body when applied directly to the skin.

Although Hemp seeds have a high nutritional value, most Cannabis-based creams and ointments for topical use are based on Hemp seed oil which does not contain Cannabinoids. The active compounds in Cannabis, which have shown numerous health benefits, are extracted from the Cannabis flowers and not from the seeds.

The effects of Cannabinoids on skin disease  

Today, the idea of topical use of cannabinoids as a safe means for treating a variety of skin diseases, including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and post-acne, eczema and xerosis (abnormally dry skin) is actively promoted [Kim et al. 2015]. Cannabis has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and hypoallergenic properties; it is used to treat itching, irritation, blisters, insect bites and scars. Topical use of cannabinoids has promising results in laboratory studies of inflammatory diseases in rodent models: a positive role of topical cannabis has been observed in the symptoms of diseases associated with the activation of mast cells such as atopic skin, contact dermatitis and psoriasis [Nam et al, 2016]. In mouse models suffering from allergic contact dermatitis and treated with topical cannabis, a decrease in the infiltration of myeloid immune cells was observed [Gaffal et al., 2013].

Cannabis anti-aging effects on the skin

Cannabis has an anti-aging effect as Cannabis extract contains a high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to rejuvenate the skin. Cannabis has such effects as regenerating, moisturizing, toning and softening, and also helps to restore the elasticity of the skin and slows the process of natural wilting.

However, these natural Phytocompounds have, in addition to their already known medical properties, a wide range of other indications: They contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium; they nourish and moisturize the skin; restore the hydrolipid balance of dry skin, maintaining its elasticity and smoothness; and help to smooth the skin and whiten pale pigment spots.

Cannabis-based creams and cosmetic products for topical use

Based on these observations, the topical application of cannabinoids in recent years has become a subject of growing interest also in dermatological practice. Cosmetics based on cannabis are a huge segment of the skin and hair care industry, the popularity of which increases as more and more new properties of the plant are discovered. Typically, studies are meant to confirm the efficacy of cannabis in the treatment of numerous dermatological conditions, without producing psychoactive effects. Moreover, for countries where Cannabis is illegal, psychoactive substances such as THC cannot be easily isolated from Cannabis products in comparison to other cannabis products dosage forms.

The consequences of smoking cannabis in the treatment of pain have undergone a thorough investigation in recent years [Dogrul et al, 2003; Phan et al, 2010]. For example, the benefits of topical application of cannabis have been noted in the treatment of sensory neuropathy associated with the human immunodeficiency virus [Abrams et al, 2007; Ellis et al, 2009; Wilsey et al., 2008-2013]. Among the mice treated with a combination of cannabinoid agonists and topical morphine, the analgesic effect increased significantly compared with morphine [Yesilyurt et al., 2003].

Based on current data on efficacy and safety, which are almost completely limited to preliminary studies on rodents, cannabinoids could play a role in future treatment algorithms for inflammatory conditions. Although preliminary models with topical cannabinoids have proved their potential, large-scale clinical trials in humans still have to be carried out. This issue underscores the need for further research and careful regulation.

Cannabis creams delivery system

In the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, there are several dosage forms:

Liquids- Syrups, injectables, etc.

  • Solids- Tablets, capsules, granules, powder, patches etc.
  • Semi solids- Ointments, cream, pastes, gels, suppositories etc.
  • Liquids- suspensions, solutions, emulsions dispersions etc.

Cannabis topicals can be used locally on the relevant body part and therefore have less toxicity and side effects.

Cannabis cream topicals

Cannabis-based creams are defined as viscous liquids or semi-solid emulsions, usually O/W or W/O for local administration. Creams contain more than 10% of water and emulsifiers.

Cannabis O/W creams are considered more comfortable and cosmetically acceptable as they are less greasy and more easily washable with water.

Cannabis W/O creams are considered more accommodating and release better lipophilic API, moisturizing, ‘cold creams’ but are greasy.

Cannabis ointment topicals

Cannabis ointments are more greasy and sticky and cannot absorb water and are not washed off easily (W/O). These products are oil-based products and stay longer on the target skin area.

About Cannabis GxP consultancy

Cannabis GXP is proud to stand at the forefront of the Cannabis industry in Israel and worldwide thanks to many years of experience in these areas.

Our team is compelled to spread the message of the importance of cannabis science, regulation and standardization as the world enters a new era of cannabis legislation.

We aim to position our clients with their best foot forward when it comes to anything and everything cannabis related.

Our vast expertise allows us to assist companies in a wide range of services and needs: Anything from Cannabis R&D, growing and manufacturing, new products development, facility design, technology, Quality Assurance, Good Practices (GAP/GMP/GLP/GDP/GCP), staff training, local and global regulations.

Cannabis GxP is a subsidiary company of Bio-Chem Ltd. (2007), a consultancy firm for the Pharmaceutical field, medical devices, Cosmetics and food supplements industry based in Israel.

Our cannabis consultancy services include:

  • Product development, delivery system & clinical trials
  • Growing, Manufacturing and Lab Facilities Design
  • Quality Assurance and Good Practices (GxP)
  • Cultivation & Product Manufacturing Technology
  • New product Regulations and Submissions
  • Qualification & Validation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Staff training

If you need one or several of our services, we will be more than happy to assist.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.