TL;DR: Cannabinoids are active chemical compounds produced by both humans and plants, and they can play a key role in supporting healthy skin and hair.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are produced by humans as well as plants. When they’re made within the body, they’re called “endocannabinoids.” When they’re made by plants, they’re called “phytocannabinoids.” Phytocannabinoids are found primarily in the cannabis sativa plant (which includes both cannabis and hemp).
Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors that works to maintain homeostasis, or balance in the body.
Some key cannabinoids:
- Cannabidiol is all the rage right now, although it doesn’t get you “high.”
- THC is the cannabinoid that we associate with getting high (although it’s packed with plenty of wellness benefits as well). THC primarily interacts with receptors in the brain.
- There are over 100 cannabinoids, so we won’t mention all of them, but other cannabinoids include CBN, CBG, and THCa.
As your body's master regulator, the ECS deploys cannabinoids for many functions: to reduce inflammation, increase sebum production, release sleep hormones, and ease pain.
If you throw out your back, cannabinoids might target receptors in a spinal nerve to relieve pain. If you’re running a marathon, cannabinoids might be released after mile 10 to counter the immense stress on your body (also known as the “runner’s high”). There’s a good reason why the first cannabinoid discovered was dubbed anandamide, from “ananda,” the Sanskrit word for bliss.
How Cannabinoids Can Nourish Your Skin and Hair
Cannabinoids have been shown in some studies to support skin and hair health in a variety of ways: they have antioxidant properties (so they combat all the free radicals that are harmful to skin and hair cells) and can also act as adaptogens. Adaptogens are plants that help the body resist physical, chemical or biological stressors.
Studies also show that cannabinoids can act as anti-inflammatory agents. While inflammation isn’t always bad (it’s a key bodily response for illness or injury) chronic inflammation can lead to health problems and disease.
Inflammation has been linked to numerous skin conditions: acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, dendritis (a.k.a. dandruff) rosacea, and hair loss. Stress is also hell on your hair, literally causing your hair follicles to go dormant.
But some studies (and, um, our lived experience) show cannabis can help lower stress levels. Our bodies respond well to plant-made cannabinoids because they mimic the compounds the body already makes.
All of these factors mean cannabinoids can support health—including healthy skin and hair.
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The Endocannabinoid System: What Is It and Why Should You Care?
What Stress Does to Your Skin and Hair
The Recently Discovered Bodily System That Supports Healthy Skin and Hair
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