Many exhibit apparent skin inflammation, primarily in the central area of the face, in the form of redness, swelling, or sensations of discomfort. This occurs when the skin responds to external aggressions. It is protective in the short term, but persistence can indicate problems. However, the use of CBD seems to help mitigate or slow its progression. In this article, we review the fundamental research concerning the molecular mechanism of CBD's potential anti-inflammatory properties.
CBD, the anti-inflammatory effects of this non-psychoactive compound from cannabis.
- Skin inflammation: What is it?
- What do studies say about the potential of CBD as an anti-inflammatory?
Skin inflammation: What is it?
Often viewed negatively, theinflammation is a biological response of the immune system designed to protect the body against intrusions. It triggers as soon as an aggression is detected: toxins, allergens, radiations, wounds, bacteria, etc. However, the skin is a living interface continuously subjected to numerous stimuli (mechanical, chemical, biological) and when pathogenic agents manage to breach this shield, an inflammatory reaction is triggered. The entirety of this process is clinically manifested by swelling (edema), pain, redness, and heat in the affected region.
What exactly happens at the skin level?
When a potential threat (bacterial, fungal, viral intrusion, allergens, etc.) enters the body or we experience a trauma (tissue injury, burn, etc.), the immune system springs into action by sending the first responders, the neutrophils, into the bloodstream to assess the pathogen or damage within the hour following the infection or injury.
The identification of the pathogen or damage by neutrophils initiates the inflammatory response and triggers the release of pro-inflammatory chemical mediators, such as cytokines, chemokines, etc., which call the immune system for additional support with the accumulation of other immune cells (mast cells, macrophages, helper T cells) at the site of the lesion. Concurrently, an enlargement of the blood vessels adjacent to the affected area (vasodilation) and an increase in vascular permeability, which cause redness and a sensation of heat, are initiated by other inflammatory signals (histamine). This significant blood influx allows the passage of other immune system cells from the bloodstream to the tissue.
However, in the event of continuous induction of chemical mediators, inflammation becomes "chronic". Indeed, although it is an essential defense mechanism of the body (acute inflammation), it often happens that the immune system overreacts. Moreover, some scientific studies associate chronic inflammation with skin conditions (psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, hives, etc). In this case, it means that inflammation should not be eliminated. On the contrary, it should be controlled in order to promote the body's healing capacity and prevent the intrusion of pathogens into the body.
What do studies say about the potential of CBD as an anti-inflammatory?
There are currently several reports on the multifunctional role of CBD and some studies have proposed or provided a molecular justification for the beneficial properties of this phyto-compound. Numerous studies suggest that CBD may be an effective anti-inflammatory. Indeed, it has been observed that it is capable of alleviating inflammation through several pathways.
CBD reduces the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-4, TNF-α) by acting as direct or indirect agonists of adenosine A2A receptors, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors gamma (PPARγ), and transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) receptors or channels, and as an antagonist of GPR55 receptors.
CBD inhibits the production of an eicosanoid enzyme, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), a signaling molecule that triggers the inflammatory response.
CBD alleviates pain through its analgesic action. It is believed to act as an agonist on TRPV1 receptors, elements known to mediate sensory perception and pain. According to a 2018 study, CBD would activate these receptors to desensitize them to any new stimulation, thus reducing chronic inflammatory pain.
Some immune cells (macrophages) generate free radicals through an enzyme, NADPH oxidase, in order to destroy pathogens by oxidizing their vital proteins, stimulated by tissue damage, disease, or infection. However, in the case of chronic inflammatory diseases, this endogenous production of free radicals can become harmful by amplifying oxidative stress, thereby maintaining the inflammatory state. Yet, with its specific molecular structure (hydroxyl groups), CBD has shown that it can regulate the redox state and contribute to modulating immunity.
CBD is also capable of reducing inflammation by increasing the levels of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, through GPR55 receptors.
Numerous studies have shown that CBD can soothe skin inflammation following topical application. Indeed, CBD can be recommended to alleviate pain and reduce all types of redness.
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