Does smoking cannabis cause acne?

Cannabis is popular for both its recreational and medicinal benefits. THC, the main psychoactive in Cannabis rejuvenates the mind while CBD can eliminate stress and provide other benefits.  Despite these medically proven cannabis benefits, some dermatoligists now claim that smoking reefer can actually cause acne.

Are these doctors saying this just because most people experiment with weed in high school? You can’t miss acne in high school, after all. Let’s Get High and look at the facts:


How does smoking Cannabis trigger acne?

1. Increased testosterone affects people who are predisposed to acne

Huffington Post reached out to two dermatologists, i.e. Dr. Bobby Buka and Dr. Ariel Ostad to find out exactly how THC affects the skin. Both dermatologists run separate clinics in New York and have a bit of experience in cannabis research.

Both dermatologists agree that acne doesn’t affect everyone due to varying levels of genetic disposition. In high school, you probably had a classmate who’s full-blown acne attracted all sorts of embarrassing nicknames. On the other hand, some people barely spotted a pimple on their faces.

According to both dermatologists, smoking joints or eating potent edibles usually increases one’s testosterone levels. When someone predisposed to acne turns into a chronic smoker, the accumulating THC levels causes increased production of testosterone. At this point, the skin begins producing excess oil.

These unusual amounts of oil trigger acne development. Acne targets the face because it contains a high concentration of oil-secreting glands.


2. THC-induced anxiety affects the body’s ability to manage stress effectively

While most of us smoke weed to kick back and relax, THC can trigger severe anxiety and paranoia attacks to people suffering from certain anxiety disorders. This group still experiences nasty trips despite micro dosing on THC. In fact, the bad trips can even last for more than two hours.

An anxiety attack occurs whenever a threat overwhelms the brain. In this state, the brain cannot restore tranquility and this leads to a buildup of hormones associated with fight-or-flight reactions. Prolonged build up leads to an acne breakout since the body requires an outlet for these hormones.

When an anxiety-prone casual toker ups their daily THC intake, the additional THC intake affects their brain’s ability to manage stress effectively. Sustaining this increased THC uptake leads to poor stress management and accumulation of fight-or-flight hormones. After a month, the toker can’t help noticing acne all over their face.


3. Eating foods rich in fats and processed sugar ends up affecting the skin

Pure Indica strains are notorious for causing munchies. Have you ever wondered why this happens?

When you smoke enough Indica to get you high, the inhaled THC plays tricks on a specific area of neurons called Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC). This group of nerves controls your appetite. When you’ve just finished eating a Wendy’s double cheese steak burger with a large soda, your POMC alerts the brain that your stomach is full. However, smoking potent THC convinces your POMC to increase your appetite even though you probably ate lunch just half an hour before toking.

Instead of buying an apple or making a nutritious veggie salad snack, at least 8 out of 10 cannabis enthusiasts will either order a pizza online or drive to McDonald’s. Eating foods containing high amounts of fats and processed sugar causes unanticipated spikes in blood glucose levels.

In this state, your body produces high amounts of insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood glucose levels. However, excess insulin triggers inflammation on the skin. Acne then occurs because high amounts of insulin affect the oil-secreting glands located in your face.

The good news is that THC isn’t directly responsible for skin inflammation. If you substitute processed snacks with fruits, you’ll actually have smoother skin due to a high intake of vitamins.


4. Smoking poorly flushed cannabis causes skin inflammation

Before cannabis legalization, it was really hard to tell which pesticides the grower used and whether they totally flushed out all chemicals before selling baggies. Thanks to decriminalization, federal governments require cannabis cultivators to submit samples for pesticide and toxicity tests.

Some doctors agree that smoking buds or dabs loaded with unflushed pesticides can cause serious skin inflammation. Whenever you ingest a foreign element, the blood transports it to your liver. Here, the foreign particles get broken down to organic and inorganic compounds.

Since the body cannot break down inorganic chemicals used in manufacturing pesticides, they flow back into the bloodstream. Any skin cell that comes into contact with these toxins suffers inflammation. People with high predispositions will notice acne on their face as well as black inflammation spots.


5. Smoke produced by burning cannabis dehydrates the skin

Smoke produced by combusting buds contains high THC and a few toxins. Some of the hot toxins we inhale when puffing a joint or taking pipe hits cause throat and lung infections. Doctors are of the opinion that these hot toxins get into the bloodstream and cause skin inflammation.

When inflammation occurs, your skin cannot clear out blocked pores effectively. With limited outlets, your skin accumulates more secreted oils and toxins inhaled during daily smoke sessions. After a month of chronic smoking, you may notice acne invading your face.


6. Smoking cannabis suppresses Vitamin D

This theory still requires plenty of conclusive research. However, some medical practitioners argue that THC  affects the body’s ability to absorb and synthesize Vitamin D. Habitual cannabis use leads to THC build up makes it difficult for your body to heal and maintain a vibrant glow on the skin.


Do you really believe that Cannabis consumption actually causes acne?

Looking at the theories explained above, two things come to mind. Some of these observations are stretching the effects of cannabis use on acne. For instance, the theory trying to link weed-munchies to skin inflammation due to excess insulin production.  It’s clear that ingesting foods rich in fats and sugar forces the pancreas to release excess insulin. THC cannot affect your insulin production.

As far as stress is concerned, cannabis may increase one’s state of anxiety. This doesn’t list cannabis use as an actual source of anxiety.

Most of the theories relating cannabis use to acne still require plenty of research in order to come up with conclusive results.

Justin Meerkat

Cannabis Entrepreneur & Cofounder | Follow @justinmeerkat on Instagram

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