Cannabis in Skincare – The Wellness Revolution

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Characteristics of Cannabis sativa L.

Cannabis sativa L. is an annual plant belonging to the Cannabinaceae family, known by its long thin flowers and spiky leaves. Hemp is extremely resistant and perfectly adapts to various climatic conditions. They grow on almost any soil and are resistant to various pests. 

The plant is considered a native of Western and Central Asia. Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest plants to be cultivated commercially in the world, including Europe and in parts of China, Japan, Canada and the United States.

The formal botanical taxonomy of Cannabis recognizes two subspecies: Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa, and Cannabis sativa subsp. indica. 

They are considered different species, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, by some botanists. Non-drug varieties of Cannabis sativa L., collectively named “hemp”, have been an important source of food, fiber and medicine for thousands of years. The whole plant is suitable for use, including fibers and seeds. Fiber is used in various areas of life. Hemp products provide effective protection against harmful UV rays due to the content of lignins, which are their natural absorbent. These fibers have antiallergic and health properties thanks to the antioxidant substances they contain.

Extracts and essential oil obtained from Canabis sativa have antimicrobial activity. Essential oil contains about 30 different ingredients (including β-pinene, myrcene, trans-ocimene, α-terpinolene, α-humulene, trans-β-caryophyllene, and trans-α-bergamotene). Its activity includes anti-bacterial, anti- fungal, and also has inhibitory effects on viruses, protozoa, and parasites.

Hemp seeds are also widely used, as they are a good source of protein, oil as well as vitamins, minerals and flavonoids (including apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, kemferol), phytoestrogens, lignans and phytosterols. Good quality hemp oil is obtained from carefully cleaned hemp seeds. It should be cold-pressed, giving a green to olive green color and a characteristic nutty flavor and smell.

Hemp Seed Oil (HSO) – Phytochemistry and Significance

In a wide group of conventional plant oils, hemp seed oil is highly valued for its composition (Fig.1, Table.1), health-promoting properties and multi-directional effects.

The oil obtained from Canabis sativa seeds has high levels of vitamins E, C, β-carotene and minerals. It contains 20-25% protein, 20-30% carbohydrates, 25-35% oil, 10-15% insoluble fiber. Hemp seed oil (HSO) is a source of 11% saturated (SFA), 13% monounsaturated (MUFA) and 75% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).

Average fatty acid composition in hemp seed oil in comparison with selected conventional plant oils.

In the group of saturated fatty acids, palmitic, stearic can be mentioned, while α-linolenic (ALA, ω-3), linoleic (LA, ω-6), oleic (ω-9), and γ-linolenic acid (GLA, ω-6) are among the unsaturated fatty acids, and there is also a small amount of palmitoleic acid (ω-7). The fatty acid profile of HSO was similar to that reported in Canada as compared to hemp cultivated in Europe with slightly higher linolenic acids.

HSO is considered to be perfectly balanced in regard to the ratio (3:1) of two polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) essential for human nutrition, linoleic and linolenic acids. Fatty acids, especially EFAs of the omega-3 series, play important role as structural elements of cell membranes, and their deficiency can cause many dysfunctions. They are precursors in biochemical reactions that regulate many processes in the human body. Among others, they are responsible for the removal of toxins from cells, mediate the delivery of nutrients, strengthen the immune system, and reduce inflammation. The beneficial effect of EFAs is supported by such compounds present in oil as: phospholipids, sitosterols, tocopherols, carotenoids, terpenes. Due to the content of sterols, especially β-sitosterol, this oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has a positive effect on the level of cholesterol in the human body. The mixture of α-, β-, γ- and δ-tocopherols and derivatives of γ-tocotrienol contained in hemp oil determines its antioxidant properties.

Table. 1. The composition of hemp oil.

Component Content
Unsaturated fatty acids
Linoleic acid 55.5-58%
α-linolenic acid 16.7-19%
Oleic acid 11.90-13%
γ-linolenic acid 4%
Saturated fatty acids
Palmitic acid 5-6%
Stearic acid 2.3-2.5%
Vitamin A 3.1 mg/100g oil
Vitamin E 88 mg/100g oil
Magnesium 199,07 mg/kg oil
Natrium 88.79 mg/kg oil
Calcium 53.86 mg/kg oil
Potassium 20.72 mg/kg oil
Iron 1.71μg/kg oil
Copper 1.48μg/kg oil
Zinc 0.91μg/kg oil
β-sitosterol 1905.07 mg/kg oil
Campesterol 505.69 mg/kg oil

Hemp seed oil, in addition to its nutritional value, has demonstrated positive health benefits, including lipid metabolism, cardiovascular health, immunomodulatory effects and dermatological diseases.

Hemp seed oil is also important in skin care. It has a significant impact on the structure, proper appearance and function of the skin. Hemp oil, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, reinforce the barrier of skin protection, affect the reconstruction of the stratum corneum, and prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL). GLA, along with α-linolenic acid, plays an important role in the repair and regeneration of the skin, as well as reduces the release of inflammatory mediators (IL-1β and TNF). Hemp oil is also a great source of antioxidants that scavenge free radicals and protect against premature skin aging. the oil’s antioxidant properties are related to the content of β-carotene, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, zinc, vitamins B (including B2, B3), omega-3 fatty acids, GLA, and amino acids (cysteine, glutathione, arginine). Phytic acid present in the seeds has an exfoliating, anti-aging, firming and lightening effect on discoloration. Hemp oil is considered to be non-comedogenic, is quickly absorbed and does not leave a greasy film on the skin surface. For this reason, it is used in the care of dry, damaged and oily skin, ideal for acne prone skin, and can potentially benefit even skin tones and radiancy levels. The main benefits of hemp oil in cosmetics is restoring barrier functions and maintaining a healthy epidermis.

Hemp oil can be directly applied to the skin, but it is also a valuable ingredient used in cosmetic formulas. It is present in the composition of cosmetic products such as creams, body lotions, massage oils, shampoos, soaps, skin care lotions, tonics, masks. HSO is also used in topical medicinal preparations indicated for atopic dermatitis, urticaria, allergies, inflammation of the skin, and psoriasis.

Long term clinical studies will further validate the beneficial effects of HSO on the epidermal barrier, hopefully allowing HSO to become a staple ingredient in cosmetics supported by strong clinical backing. Our main interest at Cuticonscious is to develop cutting edge products backed by evidence and create cosmetics that will result in honest real-time transformations while promoting skin-health and without compromising skin functions. HSO holds much therapeutic promise as far as painful and chronic skin conditions are concerned and therefore, we hope that plant actives such as HSO become more mainstream and are taken seriously by the pharmaceutical community as well as cosmetic manufacturers.

Monika Michalak, Head of Botanical Research at Cuticonscious

Peace & Health

Dr.Ansul (Founder of CutiConscious) and Monika (co-writer and head of Botanical Ingredients Research at Cuticonscious™).

Please link or use CutiConscious articles by permission only and provide credits when used.


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