The Nuance

Can CBD Solve Your Skin Problems?

Dermatologists are optimistic about the cannabis compound

Markham Heid
Published in
4 min readDec 20, 2018
Photo: rgbspace/Getty

Every week, the Nuance will go beyond the basics, offering a deep and researched look at the latest science and expert insights on a buzzed-about health topic.

AAdam Friedman, MD, is well-versed in the latest and greatest in skin care. The professor of dermatology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences is responsible for the department’s translational research program, which means he’s tasked with turning the latest dermatological science into real-world treatments or therapy.

But when people ask him about using cannabidiol (CBD) — one of several hundred chemical compounds derived from the cannabis plant — to treat their skin issues, Friedman occasionally defers to the expertise of some unlikely co-practitioners: the folks who work at marijuana dispensaries.

“I think the people working at dispensaries have anecdotal experience that allows them to make recommendations, whereas I have limited scientific evidence on which to base any recommendations,” he says of CBD-infused oils and other cannabis-derived therapies, some of which are now being promoted for skin care.

Friedman says he’s written letters of recommendation — basically, a note that allows a person to legally purchase products from a medical marijuana dispensary, so long as they have a medical cannabis card — for people with skin wounds that won’t heal or skin conditions that are not responding to conventional therapies. He says he’s not always sure what his patients are using. “But I’ve heard from many of them that it works,” he says.

“For all intents and purposes, the safety concerns for these CBD products are nil.”

It seems every week brings news that CBD may have the power to treat another medical complaint. Studies have linked CBD to anti-pain and anti-anxiety benefits, and doctors are exploring its use as a therapy for depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other diseases.

There are already loads of CBD-centric skin products on the market, from eye serums to face creams, despite the fact that…



Markham Heid

I’m a long-time contributor at TIME and other media orgs. I write mostly about health. I grew up in Michigan, but these days I live in southwest Germany.