Is CBD the Next Big Thing for Acne?

Published on July 10, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Side view shot of young woman applying facial cosmetic mask in bathroom. Female taking care of her face skin.

Blackheads? Zits? Say goodbye to acne with a brand new cure—synthetic cannabis!

That, at least, is the hope of Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a dermatological company that just announced the completion of its Phase 1 clinical trial for an acne drug that incorporates synthetic cannabidiol (CBD). Called BTX 1503, the goal is that the drug could one day be an answer to acne.

What are cannabis topicals and how do they work?

Botanix began clinical trials of the drug in Australia last year. Twenty participants, all without acne symptoms, applied the synthetic cannabinoid-based topical over the course of a month to test its safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics (the amount of the drug detectable in the bloodstream after use).

The company plans to start a pilot program for acne patients later this quarter.

Clinical trials tend to be expensive, lengthy, and uncertain. A Phase 1 Study is preliminary—it determines whether a drug is safe enough to test on actual patients. Botanix managed to complete its Phase 1 trial within 12 months, and they say it has been a huge success. “Top line data demonstrates that BTX 1503 has an excellent safety profile, with little to no skin irritation, and no severe adverse events were recorded,” the company said.

Botanix attributes the relatively small levels of the drug which were recorded in participants’ bloodstreams to its so-called Permetrex delivery technology. According to the company, the product “ensures that the majority of BTX 1503 is delivered across the outer layer of the skin and into skin tissue,” rather than entering the bloodstream.

The company plans to start a pilot program for acne patients later this quarter.

Why synthetic cannabidiol for acne? Although acne affects millions and has been studied extensively, there are relatively few effective medications that are free from side effects. While CBD as a treatment for acne isn’t very well studied, Botanix points to one 2014 academic paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. That study used biopsies of human scalp and arm skin to try to determine whether CBD could suppress acne.

The researchers found that CBD inhibited both lipogenic action (the way the body converts energy to fat for storage), and the production of sebocytes (cells in the sebaceous glands which produce the oil which coats the hair and skin of mammals). Both processes are known to contribute to acne. The study also suggested that CBD had an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. An important caveat, however, is that the study didn’t test CBD on actual, living humans.

Now Botanix is trying to put the research to the test in human trials.

The use of synthetic CBD, which doesn’t require growing cannabis plants, allows the company to avoid certain regulatory obtacles, which is one factor behind the company’s quick movement in the sector.

Meantime, Nasdaq-listed Zynerba Pharmaceuticals has been conducting, in collaboration with Aussie contract research organization Novotech, a Phase 1 study in Australia of its drug ZYN002, a synthetic CBD formulated to be a gel. The product, applied to the skin, is aimed at treating epilepsy and osteoarthritic knee pain. The says the clear gel is designed to provide consistent, controlled, and sustained drug delivery in twice-daily dosing.

Shop highly rated stores near you

Showing you stores near
See all stores
Get good reads, local deals, and strain spotlights delivered right to your inbox.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to Leafly's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Stay In Touch

Receive updates on new products, special offers, and industry news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to Leafly's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Leafly mobile app
Get high for less.
Download the Leafly app.
Download Leafly: Marijuana Reviews on the App Store
Download Leafly Marijuana Reviews on Google Play

The material provided on Leafly is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Leafly is not engaged in rendering medical service or advice and the information provided is not a substitute for a professional medical opinion. If you have a medical problem, please contact a qualified health professional.

© 2024 Leafly, LLC
Leafly and the Leafly logo are registered trademarks of Leafly, LLC. All Rights Reserved.