CBD Oil for Hair Health

Cannabis has gotten a bad rap in the past. But the latest research on the plant and its derivatives suggests that it may be more useful than once thought. In this article, we’ll cover one particular derivative known as cannabidiol (CBD). I’ll introduce CBD and the ways in which it may interact with the body. I’ll then further outline the potential health benefits of CBD oil, including hair growth.

An Introduction to CBD

Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD, is an extract from the cannabis plant. CBD is the second most prevalent compound found in cannabis (up to 40 percent of the plant’s extract), with the first being delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

CBD Versus THC

To understand CBD, it’s important that you first understand what it’s not. Cannabis, more commonly referred to as marijuana or weed, is a plant that’s often harvested for its psychoactive effects. The compound found within cannabis which contributes to this effect isn’t CBD, though. It’s actually THC.

CBD and the Human Body

Believe it or not, the human body is actually adapted to the use of cannabinoids like CBD. Let me explain. Found throughout the body are cannabinoid receptors which are part of the endocannabinoid system. These can be classified by CB1 receptors (found mostly in the brain) and CB2 receptors (found mostly within the immune system). These help to stimulate and regulate a number of physiological processes, including appetite, mood, pain, and memory .

As you’d imagine, the cannabinoid receptors are where plant cannabinoids (like CBD) dock. But cannabinoids produced by the human body (known as endocannabinoids) and synthetic cannabinoids can also interact with these receptors. Once these receptors have been activated, they are then able to influence various intracellular effects and neuronal excitability.

The Health Benefits of CBD Oil

Before we discuss the effects that CBD oil may have on hair growth, let’s consider its more general benefits.

Reduces Pain and Inflammation

Since circa 2900 B.C., marijuana has been used to treat a number of medication conditions. These include muscle spasms, joint pain, and other such conditions which trigger pain.

And while scientists are still unsure of its exact mechanisms, there are a few studies which highlight CBD’s use in the treatment of pain.

Sativex is an oral spray which contains a combination of THC and CBD. The drug is approved for use in many countries, and it’s often use as a pain reliever for those with chronic medical conditions.

One study on the topic, published in 2015, offers a bit more insight into the drug’s uses and mechanisms. The study consisted of 30 patients, all of which had been diagnosed previously with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The goal of the study was to determine whether the drug could relax the muscles and, as a result, improve spasticity and reduce pain. The patients were given an extensive clinical and neurophysiological examination before and after the trial. The parameters which researchers used to gauge results included motor threshold, motor evoked potentials amplitude, intracortical excitability, sensory-motor integration, and Hmax/Mmax ratio.

As the researchers noted, the results of the study showed an “increase of intracortical inhibition, a significant reduction of spinal excitability, and an improvement in spasticity and associated symptoms.”

As such, they concluded that Sativex may be an effective drug for reducing symptoms of MS. How? The researchers speculate that the drug works along intracortical pathways. This suggests that THC and/or CBD can relieve a number of neurological symptoms, including pain.

Can CBD Oil Be Used for Hair Growth?

There’s currently no evidence that CBD oil can directly stimulate hair growth or treat pattern baldness. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its hair benefits, though. Let’s take a look at what we do know about CBD based on current research.

It May Treat Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that consists of flaking, inflammation, and thick patches of skin. This condition can develop on any part of the body, though areas with high sebum content (such as the scalp) are often a target. There are an array of treatment methods, including photodynamic (light) therapy, steroids, and immunosuppressive drugs. But as you can imagine, these can come with their own risks and potential side effects.

The good news? A literature review published in 2016 indicates that CBD may be a future treatment option for psoriasis patients. It’s well-known that psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder that may trigger an interaction within the nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is one such system within the nervous system. This means that it’s possible for CBD to play a role in mitigation of symptoms. There’s still much research to be done, of course.


It May Stabilize Sebum Levels

We’ve already discussed above the benefits of CBD oil for treating inflammation. Inflammation plays a significant role in hair loss. And whether it’s the underlying cause, or just a side effect of another condition, we know for sure that inflammation must be controlled in order to stop hair loss and even regrow hair. But another factor that’s often overlooked in hair loss is sebum. Sebum is the natural oil produced from the sebaceous glands which are found inside the hair follicle. A healthy scalp can regulate sebum production so as to ensure a well-balanced environment. Medical conditions, including male-pattern baldness, may trigger an imbalance, however.

So, how does CBD fit in?

According to a 2014 research study, cannabidiol exerts sebostatic effects on human sebocytes . The research was performed in vitro, which means it was performed in test tubes / culture dishes / etc in a laboratory setting. The researchers used cultured human sebocytes (highly specialized, sebum-producing epithelial cells), as well as human skin organ cultures, to determine the effects of CBD on sebum production.

As the tests showed, the administration of CBD to sebocytes and human skin organ culture inhibited lipogenic actions of various compounds. These include arachidonic acid, linoleic acid, and testosterone.

But how exactly does it work?

It appears that CBD activates certain ion channels (namely, transient receptor potential vanilloid-4 (TRPV4)) which then suppresses sebum proliferation and expression.

Why is this good for hair growth? There are quite a few dermatological conditions that are triggered by the presence of excess sebum. Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are perhaps the most common. The buildup of sebum can cause irritation, inflammation, and itching. Over time, this may dislodge otherwise healthy hairs from the scalp, or even clog the follicles and prevent hair growth. If CBD oil can suppress excess sebum production as the previously mentioned study claims, this may be a significant breakthrough for sufferers of many dermatological conditions.

It Provides Nutritional Benefit

In some cases, nutrient deficiencies can cause hair thinning and loss. This is particularly true when it comes to vital hair nutrients such as iron, niacin, and biotin. Hair loss can also trigger a nutrient deficiency within the follicles, as the follicles become inflamed and are unable to receive the oxygen and nutrients they require from the blood vessels. CBD oil is full of nutrients such as Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9 fatty acids, as well as Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA). These ingredients may help to promote hair growth, but they can also protect the existing hair strands.

Fatty acids are beneficial in two main ways: Foremost, they provide moisture to the scalp and hair. They also protect the cuticle against outside damage so as to reduce breakage and split ends. We can go even further and say that the amino acids within CBD lend themselves to the structure of the hair strand. The hair is composed almost entirely of the protein keratin. And as amino acids are the building blocks of protein, CBD oil’s contents can ensure the protein is strengthened.

Is CBD Oil Legal?

There’s much debate worldwide about the legalization of the cannabis plant and its derivatives, including marijuana and CBD oil. Let’s take a look at the United States, for example:

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in December 2018, CBD oils obtained from hemp plants are legal at the federal level. But CBD oils which are obtained from marijuana are only legal in some states. You may notice the qualifier that’s bolded above.

But what exactly does this mean?

Marijuana and hemp are both terms which are often used to describe derivatives of the cannabis plant. The difference, however, lies in their THC content. Marijuana, by definition, is any cannabis plant variety that contains greater than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. These plant varieties are known to produce the high that’s associated with weed. Hemp, on the other hand, is any cannabis plant variety that contains less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. This means it’s a non-intoxicating variety. Hemp-derived CBD oils are more widely legalized throughout the world.

About Brandon Ross MD