A new study in Molecules is heaping praise on the skincare benefits of hemp. The journal published the research in a special issue dedicated to naturally occurring compounds that counteract oxidation and inflammation.
“Hemp extracts can be a valuable source of biologically active substances that reduce oxidative stress, inhibit skin aging processes and positively affect the viability of skin cells,” said the Poland-based researchers. Their findings “indicate the legitimacy of including hemp extracts in the recipes of skin care cosmetics as well as medicinal preparations” and that they are “extremely valuable ingredients… in cosmetic preparations or dietary supplements due to their good protective effect on our body.”
The study explored the effects of hemp compounds like phenols, flavonoids, chlorophylls and cannabinoids, among others. For example, the researchers said cannabinoids help counteract UV-related decreases in endocannabinoids (AEA, 2-AG and PEA) and provide “a long-lasting moisturizing effect,” while polyphenols and flavonoids appear to neutralize free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
“Oxidative stress is one of factors inducing skin aging processes and inhibiting its regeneration ability,” wrote the researchers. Long-term stress on skin cells can lead to “DNA, protein and lipid damage, disrupting many natural processes, including degradation and synthesis of collagen and elastin-basic proteins that play the most important role in a skin aging process, regeneration or wound healing.”
Hemp extracts also inhibit enzymes that degrade elastin and collagen structure in the skin. Described as “major skin building proteins,” elastin and collagen “play an important role not only in the skin aging process, but also in wound healing and skin regeneration.”
The researchers examined the effects of hemp extracts on individuals with decreased skin moisture levels from drinking too little water and/or using cleansing cosmetics that dry the skin. A strong cleanser was applied to the forearms of volunteers, who experienced a 14-percent decrease in skin hydration after about 90 minutes. Another group given the same cleanser was treated with hemp extract (via hydrogels), which “eliminated [the] adverse effect” of the cleanser and helped with “restoring of the hydrolipid balance and to rebuilding of the hydrolipid barrier of the skin.”
Other noted benefits included antibacterial properties, delays in skin aging, relief from itching and pain, and help in “the treatment of dermatoses, psoriasis, atopy, skin allergies and skin melanoma.”
The researchers, who recommend ultrasonic extraction (UAE) for capturing higher concentrations of beneficial organic compounds, offered the following conclusion: “The abilities of inhibiting matrix metalloproteinases, collagenase and elastase… as well as proven antioxidant properties make these extracts valuable ingredients for the production of a wide range of products that can be used in the treatment and care of the skin. Due to the high demand for preparations that inhibit the aging processes of the skin, the effect of hemp extracts on skin hydration and the possibility of preventing the degradation of collagen and elastin fibers presented here indicates the value of these extracts.”