Mechanisms of Cannabinoids and Potential Applicability to Skin Diseases


The legalisation of cannabis in a growing number of jurisdictions has led to increasing interest in its potential therapeutic effects in a range of disorders, including cutaneous conditions. Cannabinoids have been used as natural medicines for centuries; however, their biological activity in the skin is a new area of study. Recent data suggest that cannabinoids are involved in neuro-immuno-endocrine modulation of skin functioning, yet their effect on the features of dermatologic conditions is unclear. This article sought to review the mechanisms by which cannabinoids regulate skin functioning through the lens of relevance to treatment of dermatologic diseases looking at the effects of cannabinoids on a range of cellular activities and dermatologic conditions both in vitro and in vivo. We identified studies demonstrating an inhibitory effect of cannabinoids on skin inflammation, proliferation, fibrosis, pain, and itch—biological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of many dermatologic conditions. Cannabinoids have the potential to expand the therapeutic repertoire of a wide spectrum of skin disorders. Given their widespread unregulated use by the general public, basic and clinical studies are required to elucidate the effectiveness and long-term effects of topical and systemic cannabinoids in cutaneous disorders.

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Correspondence to Elena Pope.

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Cintosun, A., Lara-Corrales, I. & Pope, E. Mechanisms of Cannabinoids and Potential Applicability to Skin Diseases. Clin Drug Investig 40, 293–304 (2020).

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