Like the cold, toothache, and sore throats, acne is one of those health conditions that almost everybody will have to deal with at some point in their lives, yet few ever cite as a daily torment in their adult years. However, with reports that the rarer adult and much worse cystic acne are approaching "epidemic" (to quote the Telegraph newspaper) proportions in some parts of the world, possible cures for the unpleasant skin complaint are becoming a popular question at the pharmacist.

Recently, CBD or cannabidiol oil has emerged as a possible cure or, at least, a preventative, for acne. So, let's take a look at some of the evidence.

Lost Productivity

Between 85-95% of people in the West struggle with acne, which is caused by the blockage of skin glands (specifically, those that produce the body's natural hair lubricant, sebum) and their infection with Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. That figure drops to just 15% for adult women. Across all ages, acne takes a significant financial toll too. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that the 5.1m people who seek help for acne per year rack up costs of $1.2bn in medical treatment and $400m in lost productivity caused by days off work; you can find out more about the study on their website.

It's perhaps no surprise then that the acne skincare market is expected to grow to US$7.4bn by 2017, according to Statista, an increase of US$2.4bn over the figures for 2016 - you can read the report to find out more. CBD oil, already a common ingredient in cosmetics, tea, food, and all sorts of other consumables, reportedly includes anti-inflammatory compounds and can aid in stress reduction and oil control – three things that could alleviate symptoms in people suffering from acne.

Non Destructive

As far as stress reduction is concerned, the cannabis portal International HighLife (IHL) cites a paper in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology in support of CBD oil as an acne medication, and you can read more on the paper on their website. Similarly, IHL notes that many prescription acne treatments damage healthy cells to reduce acne, while CBD oil is non-destructive, and can be applied in much lower doses than the Vitamin A-derived solutions that are currently popular with sufferers.

Science is, however, split on whether CBD oil should be taken topically or internally via a daily supplement to treat acne symptoms. In any case, the body is already equipped to interact with cannabinoids and has natural receptors in the brain and nervous system, as well as on the skin, as part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). There's evidence that the ECS is responsible for some stress reactions, meaning that CBD and the ECS may affect incidences of acne. While that all may sound a little confusing, you can read this guide that provides a rough crash course on the subject.

Popular opinion seems to validate the claims of CBD oil producers too, at least as far as an acne treatment is concerned. Articles dedicated to the subject at mainstream media outlets like Cosmopolitan, the Daily Mail, Metro, and the Express are easy to find online. The positive view of cannabis as a health supplement is a story in the making though, so, with increased regulation and coverage by news outlets, CBD oil could yet find a greater role in health care, even beyond skincare.


Published by James Howart