While many of us thought that acne was one of those teenage things, it turns out that it doesn’t actually go away once we hit our twenties. Rather, it lingers, sticking around until we all find ourselves approaching middle-age with the face of a sixteen-year-old. We try to fight it – we use soap, lotions, toothpaste as part of our arsenal – but the zits stay the pits. So, we look for other alternatives. An alternative acne treatment may be cannabis.
How Acne Develops
Acne happens for many reasons (oh, you’re about to go on a first date? Here’s a giant pimple!). Per the National Institutes of Health, it’s caused when skin cells, sebum, and hair lump together in a plug and fill with bacteria.
Bacterium leads to swelling which causes acne to grow, yum
From a lifestyle perspective, some of the everyday things we do that lead to acne include using greasy makeup, touching our faces, taking certain types of medicine, wearing bike helmets, living in areas of high pollution, and using oil-based face products. Other things that lead to outbreaks include hormone changes (during the teen years or pregnancy), heredity, and birth control pills (either stopping or starting).
Despite common belief, acne isn’t often caused by stress, chocolate, or greasy foods (unless you’re rubbing those foods directly onto your face).
How Acne is Prevented
Acne isn’t always preventable, but there are ways to decrease risk. Some of these include cleaning the skin gently, not touching the face, shaving carefully, limiting sun exposure, choosing the right types of makeup, and shampooing hair daily (if hair is oily, it can make the face oily as well).
Does THC Help With Acne?
Whether or not marijuana can help acne treat is yet to be determined. As discussed previously, the studies surrounding cannabis are lacking and much, much more research is needed to determine its potential in regards to the skin and everything that lies beneath it.
However, according to the Huffington Post, THC may possibly make acne worse. The reason for this is that ingesting THC increases testosterone levels, at least initially. This can cause the skin’s glands to produce more sebum oil, which leads to acne in people who are predisposed to breakouts.
Not so fun fact: this spike in testosterone can also lead to hair loss in chronic and heavy cannabis users
Still, this increase in testosterone isn’t usually enough to increase acne in most people: not everyone needs to choose between pot and a pimple-free existence. But marijuana may up the zit risk in another way: the munchies.
Foods with high-glycemic indexes are linked to acne (at least in certain studies). Thus, smoking up and then eating sugar-filled snacks may turn you into a pothead with a lot of white and blackheads.
Acne aside, smoking marijuana (or anything else) isn’t great for the skin – it causes it to age more rapidly, leaving the user looking older than they are (a trait only coveted by people not quite old enough to drink).
Joints are probably not as harmful as cigarettes – for one thing, THC protects against carcinogens – but they’re not swimming in wellness, either.
Marijuana smoke has the potential to inhibit the cells that are responsible for making new collagen, something that keeps skin looking fresh
But, the news isn’t all bad. THC may increase testosterone levels but it also offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, two things that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. In short, it can protect the skin.
This makes the delivery system critical: vaping over frank smoking is the better choice when it comes to dermatologic health (and likely health overall). If you’re still partial to joints or pipes, put protective moisturizer on your face beforehand.
Is Topical Cannabis a Valid Acne Treatment?
Of course, topical marijuana, lotions and gels placed directly on the skin, is another delivery route entirely. It’s not one that offers a “man I’m so baked” high, but it offers its own benefits. Research indicates that cannabinoids help treat inflammatory skin diseases in mice, giving promise that they may do the same in people.
Presently, many cannabis-based products exist on the market. These treat everything from acne to eczema to rosacea to wrinkles.
The Best Strains for Acne Treatment
While THC has all the fun, many of the medical benefits of cannabis are found in CBD, THC’s tamer cousin. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning products that are pure CBD won’t produce a conventional high. Many strains, however, contain both CBD and THC – these strains provide a high, but not one as soaring as strains heavy on the THC.
Because the jury’s still out on whether THC is good for acne treatment, anyone prone to pimples may benefit from strains that are rich in CBD, a potent anti-inflammatory. Some of the strains worth taking for a spin include:
Sour Tsunami: Sour Tsunami is 60/40 in the Sativa/Indica department. It has low THC (around ten percent) and CBD that’s around 13 percent (though sometimes this is much higher). Users looking for a lights out high will be soured by this strain, but it’s good for alleviating pain and discomfort without brain fog.
Cannatonic: This strain provides users with improved mood and motivation. It numbs and warms the body and helps with muscle spasms, stress, and aches.
Pennywise: Pennywise offers high CBD and is useful anytime of the day. It helps with PTSD, arthritis, and epilepsy. It may also offer neuro-protective effects.
Charlotte’s Web: A strain that helped propel CBD into fame, Charlotte’s Web doesn’t offer users much in terms of a high; rather, it’s used mainly for seizures. It offers a lot of CBD (up to 20 percent) with little or no THC. It’s a good choice for people who want the benefits of cannabinoids without the psychoactivity. You can smoke this strain AND go to work.
Harlequin: A very popular and well-liked CBD Strain, Harlequin is a mostly Sativa that produces a slight buzz but not a strong cerebral high. The standard ratio of CBD to THC is 5:2. Users report an uplifted mood, an increased sense of focus, and anxiety relief. If it doesn’t get rid of your zits entirely, it at least allows you not to care about them quite as much.