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How cannabis is getting under our skin



Some experts think CBD could help a variety of skin conditions

CBD is changing the face of the beauty industry, but are the benefits more than just skin deep?

From retinol and hyaluronic acid to charcoal masks and snail mucus (yes, apparently this was a trend in 2018) – the beauty industry knows we’ll put almost anything on our skin in the search for a flawless complexion.

But one ingredient which appears to be living up to the hype is CBD.

The CBD skincare market has exploded in recent years as more evidence comes to light of the cannabinoid’s anti-inflammatory effects. And with the industry projected to generate £734m in annual sales by 2024, those in the field predict this is a trend that will continue to snowball.

Leading UK CBD brand Love Hemp, has seen its cosmetic range – which includes a 300mg body salve and cellulose fibre face mask – prove particularly popular with consumers and CEO Tony Calamita, expects to see a great deal more products entering the market in the coming years.

“Consumers are focused on health and wellbeing now more than ever and CBD is a large part of this market, as one of the fastest growing product categories in the UK,” he told Cannabis Health.

“Topical CBD and CBD-infused skincare products are quickly making their way into skincare and self-care routines across the UK and as consumers become more invested in natural beauty and skincare, and I don’t see this slowing down anytime soon.”

Tony continued: “The benefits of CBD and skincare have been well documented, with many leading skincare companies beginning to incorporate it into their products. Combining the spirit-lifting properties of the hemp plant alongside natural skincare ingredients can only mean good things for the skin.”

“I expect CBD-based products will continue to grow in popularity and we’ll see a lot of new products enter the market.”

While a handful of big-name beauty brands have cottoned on – The Body Shop released its CBD range in recent weeks – an industry report published by Prohibition Partners earlier this year found that it is actually the smaller brands which are driving the developments in the CBD beauty market, while multinational companies remain wary of its legal position.

One such UK brand is The London Botanists, which recently launched an organic skin balm containing CBD, rosehip and shea butter, which is said to be safe for even ‘the most sensitive of skin’.

The London Botanists founder, Chloe Lawrence-Green

“The skincare trend has already begun, but I believe it is only going to get bigger and bigger,” commented founder Chloe Lawrence-Green, who launched the brand after struggling to find all-natural products on the market.

She added: “CBD applied directly to the skin has been found to have significant soothing properties helping minimise issues related to skin sensitivity, including redness and reactivity.”

Taking it one step further, the world’s first beauty industry-endorsed CBD facial which arrived in the UK in October, along with its first full range of cosmeceutical CBD products.

The Grass Roots Facial, which it is hoped will soon be available in salons up and down the country, is a five step treatment which can be personalised to target certain conditions including acne, rosacea, sensitive, pigmented and ageing skin.

The Grass Roots range includes seven products designed to replace the client’s skincare regime, avoiding the additional steps and expense that comes with adding more products to an existing routine.

The facial and product range will only be available in salons where beauty therapists have completed the required training course, so they are able to educate their clients about CBD.

Grass Roots co-founders (L-R) Lyndsey Price, Jo Minchin and Zoe Wilkinson

Although it’s still early days, Grass Roots founders believe that the benefits of CBD could have huge implications for how skin concerns are treated, with the people most commonly using CBD-infused products reported as being those with conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis.

Co-founder Zoe Wilkinson said: “Doctors often prescribe strong ointments for skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema, but if we can treat these conditions with something natural, before going down the medical route then that will massively change how we use skincare.”

Until recently the interest in cannabis extracts and their potential benefits for the skin has been predominantly cosmetic, but last year, Sapphire Medical Clinics opened the UK’s first medical cannabis dermatology service for patients with hard-to-treat skin conditions.

For the first time, doctors can now offer cannabis-based treatments to patients with rare and challenging conditions who have not responded to conventional therapies.

Consulting dermatologists at the clinic told Cannabis Health this could ‘dramatically change’ how health professionals treat skin disorders such as atopic eczema, genital psoriasis and allergic contact dermatitis.

While scientific evidence into the efficacy of cannabis in treating skin conditions is limited, it is thought that its anti-inflammatory properties could help reduce inflammation in a wide range of conditions including discoid lupus erythematosus and scarring alopecia.

“There is evidence that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects but there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of determining efficacy,” said Dr Richard Watchorn, a dermatologist based at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

“The numbers involved in the studies are not what we would usually work with, so at this moment in time the evidence base is in its embryonic stages, but there’s enough to show that it is promising.”

The Sapphire Medical dermatology service will play a vital role in collecting this much-needed data. Participating patients – treated with either topical or systemic therapies – will be entered into a registry where doctors will record their symptoms and any improvement in their conditions to help inform future studies.

Serious skin conditions can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, affecting everything from their sleep to work life and personal relationships.

“If you’re living with chronic itching or chronic pain, it can affect your sleep, your ability to be productive in your work and therefore your job prospects,” Dr Watchorn explained.

“Skin conditions can affect people’s appearance, their self-worth and how they enter into romantic relationships – it really can be devastating for their whole life.”

He added: “Being able to access a new treatment, even one that doesn’t have a huge evidence base at this time, but that will hopefully in the future, is very exciting.”


Six big cannabis sector stories you might have missed this week



It’s been another week of big news in the cannabis world.

At Cannabis Health, our in depth coverage of the ongoing growth of cannabis as a medical and wellness product continues

Meanwhile, over at Cannabis Wealth, we’ve been following all the big industry and policy news in a week which has seen some important developments..

Been busy and want to get caught up in a hurry?

Here are the six things you need to read to stay in the loop this week.

1. Reprieve for medical cannabis patients

The Department of Health has reached an agreement with Dutch officials to extend the supply of medical cannabis oils to existing patients in the UK until 2022.

Medical cannabis patients, living with severe, life-threatening epilepsy were left without access to medication when the UK left the EU at the end of last year.

Medical cannabis

Families, whose children are prescribed Bedrocan oils in the UK but must obtain their prescription through the Transvaal pharmacy in the Netherlands, were given two weeks notice that their medication could no longer be dispensed following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31, December 2020.

Read the full story.

2. UK largest’s medical cannabis trial reports back

The first findings from the UK’s largest medical cannabis patient study show quality of life improved by more than 50 percent.

Preliminary results from Drug Science’s Project Twenty21 study, have found medical cannabis significantly improves quality of life for people with life-limiting conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis (MS) Tourette’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Published on Tuesday 11 May, the report is the first real-world data to be collected on medical cannabis in the UK.

Read more here.

3. Harrowing first-hand account of medical cannabis user
Diagnosed with a personality disorder and experiencing debilitating anxiety which left him housebound, Craig – whose name has been changed – had exhausted all treatment options and was losing all hope.
He speaks about how medical cannabis helped save his life here.

4. CBD market set to shrink

The UK’s CBD sector looks set to shrink significantly as the roll out of new regulations continues to batter the industry.

The FSA has confirmed to Cannabis Wealth it received applications for 803 different CBD products – but only 42 have been advanced to the next stage of the process so far.

More than half of all applications (445) were ‘incomplete’ and a further 41 have been withdrawn altogether.

Read the full story here.

5. CBD not linked to single doping case

CBD has not been linked to a single failed drugs test in UK sport despite fears about the undeclared levels of THC in some products.

The World Anti-Doping Agency removed the cannabinoid from its banned substances list in 2017 and since then several high profile athletes have publicly endorsed CBD products.

Even though CBD – which has no psychoactive properties – is not banned, the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) still warns athletes to be cautious with treatments.

Read our exclusive report here.

6. School’s out for cannabis class

The first class on a pioneering university medical cannabis course have concluded their first year of studies.

The research programme at the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin examines the medical and nutritional uses of cannabis, production and the legal and economic frameworks of the business.

It’s the latest sign that medical cannabis is becoming a part of the mainstream education offering and a positive indication that new industry leaders will emerge in the coming years.

Full story here.

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Science finds a way for medical cannabis to relieve pain without side effects

Researchers have developed a molecule that allows THC to fight pain without the side effects.



Medical cannabis
Many people living with chronic pain have found that cannabis can provide relief. 

Scientists may have developed a molecule which could allow medical cannabis to provide pain relief without any side effects.

Many people live with chronic pain, and in some cases, cannabis can provide relief. 

But the drug also can significantly impact memory and other cognitive functions. 

Now, researchers have developed a peptide that, in mice, allowed THC to fight pain without the side effects.

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 20 percent of adults in the states experienced chronic pain in 2019. 

In some studies, medical cannabis has been helpful in relieving pain from migraines, neuropathy, cancer and other conditions, but the side effects can present hurdles for widespread therapeutic use.

Previously, researchers identified two peptides [molecules which are made up of amino acids] that disrupt an interaction between a receptor that is the target of THC and another that binds serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates learning, memory and other cognitive functions. 

When the researchers injected the peptides into the brains of mice, the mice had fewer memory problems caused by THC. 

Now, this team, led by Rafael Maldonado, David Andreu and colleagues, has gone one step further to improve these peptides to make them smaller, more stable, orally active and able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Based on data from molecular dynamic simulations, the researchers designed two peptides that were less than half the length of the original ones but preserved their receptor binding and other functions. 

They also optimised the peptide sequences for improved cell entry, stability and ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. 

Then, the researchers gave the most promising peptide to mice orally, along with a THC injection, and tested the mice’s pain threshold and memory. 

Mice treated with both THC and the optimised peptide reaped the pain-relieving benefits of THC and also showed improved memory compared with mice treated with THC alone. 

Importantly, multiple treatments with the peptide did not evoke an immune response. 

Reporting in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, researchers say that these findings suggest the optimised peptide is an ideal drug candidate for reducing cognitive side effects from cannabis-based pain management.

The abstract that accompanies this paper can be viewed here.

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Dutch Government to supply medical cannabis for UK patients until 2022

The Department of Health has reached an agreement to continue the supply of Bedrocan oils



The Dutch Government will supply medical cannabis to UK patients until 2022

The Department of Health has reached an agreement with Dutch officials to extend the supply of medical cannabis oils to existing patients in the UK until 2022.

Medical cannabis patients, living with severe, life-threatening epilepsy were left without access to medication when the UK left the EU at the end of last year. 

Families, whose children are prescribed Bedrocan oils in the UK but must obtain their prescription through the Transvaal pharmacy in the Netherlands, were given two weeks notice that their medication could no longer be dispensed following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31, December 2020. 

After outrage from campaigners, the Dutch government agreed to continue supplying the life-saving products until 1 July, 2021 while a more permanent solution was reached.

This waiver period has now been extended until 1 January, 2022.

Health ministers promised to work with officials in the Netherlands to find a “long-term” solution, but according to those at the forefront of the campaign, there is still “some way to go”.

Hannah Deacon and son Alfie Dingley

Hannah Deacon’s son Alfie Dingley, who is prescribed Bedrocan products for a rare form of epilepsy, recently celebrated one year seizure-free.

In a letter to Deacon on Thursday 13 May, the DofH said it was working with the Dutch government, Bedrocan and the Transvaal pharmacy to proceed as “quickly as possible” with the UK production of these medicines.

It added that domestic production is “complex” and that manufacturing “unlicensed herbal medicines” comes with “significant challenges”. 

Deacon said that the UK production of Bedrocan products was the “only solution”.

While other cannabis-based medicines are available in the UK, experts have warned that there is ‘significant variation’ from one product to the next and switching an epilepsy patient’s treatment could be ‘life-threatening’.

“With the 1 July deadline for Bedrolite supply to cease from the Netherlands looming ever closer, we made it clear we wanted an extension to the agreement to stop the situation becoming dangerous for Alfie and the other patients receiving this vital medicine,” commented Deacon.

“The long term solution of Bedrocan products being made in the UK still has some way to go, but it can be the only solution and we thank everyone who is working very hard to achieve this. 

“This is still a long way off from being okay, but for now we have the pressure taken off on the supply issue.”

With limited access to medical cannabis on the NHS, families are still calling for the Government to help fund their children’s prescriptions, which can cost thousands of pounds each month.

Deacon added: “The ever-pressing issue of financial burden on the many families and patients wishing to use medical cannabis in the UK remains and this is a huge issue which needs dealing with.

“There are many ways in which the Government could step in and help access for very vulnerable people and we will continue working as hard as we can to make things better for all.”

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