Cannabis & the Integumentary System

Our hair, skin, and nails make up the integumentary system.


Our hair, skin, and nails make up the integumentary system - which shields us from infection, abrasion, and having our internal liquids either evaporate or simply drip out of the body. They’re the pieces of anatomy society judges as we try to remain attractive, and research is showing cannabis holds hopeful properties in helping this organ system remain healthy from the inside, out.

Skin is composed of three primary layers. The bottom layer is subcutaneous fat, where it connects to the muscles and bones of the body to stay in place and control body temperature. The middle layer called the dermis makes sweat, grows hair, and produces oil while also holding the nerve endings that give us our sense of touch. The final layer, the epidermis, is the layer we see. It produces new skin cells and holds pigment or melanin in our skin.

Though cannabis can be beneficial to the skin, it may also irritate it if it’s being smoked. The carcinogens found in any smoke can sometimes irritate healthy skin or exacerbate skin diseases. But if used in a topical preparation, the medicinal properties of cannabis may be provided simply by absorption through the skin. Edible products are another way to ingest cannabis without adverse effects on the skin.

Eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and several other skin conditions all involve inflammation, the very thing CBD has been shown to reduce. CB2 receptors are found in skin cells, meaning cannabis may not only be absorbed into the skin, but topical CBD products can immediately deliver cannabinoids that bind to these receptors. This may allow patients to treat both inflammatory skin conditions and pain locally, right at the site, rather than by ingesting the plant.

The cannabis plant is also full of antioxidants which scavenge damaging free radicals. They can help keep skin looking youthful, which is why it’s now being used in various beauty products such as cleansers, night creams, and lotions. There are also findings that the antioxidants in cannabis help protect skin from the damaging effects of UV light, perhaps making it a good ingredient in sunscreen.

CBD oil is now being used in various hair products. It’s a cannabinoid with multiple uses and we’ve found that it can coat the hydro-lipid layer of the hair shaft resulting in silkier hair with less dandruff from the scalp. It also provides essential amino acids needed for keratin, the fibrous protein that forms the structure of individual hairs, as well as omega fatty acids which help open hair follicles and promote hair growth.

It’s important to know that excessive quantities of THC may increase testosterone levels, some evidence notes that increase to be as much as 5%. There is a small chance that this slight increase can cause extra sebum production in the skin, resulting in acne breakouts.

The cannabis plant consists of far more than just THC, despite it being a major component that’s been celebrated and also condemned. The antioxidants and CBD in cannabis have shown that they can improve skin health, both when it is consumed as well as when used as a topical. The best way to keep the integumentary system healthy when consuming cannabis is to simply maintain proper hygiene, and possibly by using some CBD products such as shampoos, soaps, and lotions. Consult your physician first before attempting to use it on a problematic skin condition and avoid smoking cannabis by instead eating it or by using it as a topical.