All About the CB1 Receptor of the Endocannabinoid System of the Skin

Nicholas Demski
Written by Nicholas Demski
How our plant-friendly system plays a key role in protecting an organ that protects the rest of them

Without it, you wouldn’t last long. Your muscles would be subject to a number of threats: infection and pests to start with. Your organs would lack organization; your liver wouldn’t know if it should hold up your hear or rest on your bladder. Your eyes would never blink. Your nose would be a hole in your face.

Yes, there would be a lot of issues to contend with if you didn’t have your skin. Without it, your body would fall into chaos. It’s the largest organ of the human body and it helps protect basically every other organ in one way or another.

But how does your skin stay healthy?

Interestingly, your endocannabinoid system plays a large role in how your skin health is manifested. Let’s take a quick look at how the CB1 receptor of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is integrated into your body’s largest, toughest organ.

A 2009 report that was published in the journal, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, indicated that there is no separating skin health from the ECS. [1] The researchers said that “the main physiological function of the cutaneous ECS is to constitutively control the proper and well-balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival, as well as immune competence and/or tolerance, of skin cells.”

A 2018 report noted that any interruption in the balance of a person’s ECS could immediately impact their skin health. [2] The report, which was published in the journal, Biochemical Pharmacology, noted that “the dysregulation of ECS has been associated to dermatological disorders such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, scleroderma and skin cancer.”

The CB1 receptor is partly responsible for these actions. It can be found in hair follicle cells, immune cells, keratinocytes within the more differentiated epidermal layers, sebaceous glands, and even the sensory neurons.

Naturally, a 2011 report looked directly at how the CB1 receptor plays a role in some forms of skin health. [3] The researchers showed that activation of the CB1 receptor may be in part be a “useful adjunct treatment strategy for hyperproliferative human dermatoses such as psoriasis or KC-derived skin tumors.”

More importantly, a 2014 report [4] noted that CB1 manipulation in the skin:

  • Suppresses the expression of two damage-induced keratins, keratin 6 and keratin 16
  • Helps with the modulation of pain
  • Combats some forms of inflammation
  • Promotes hair growth
  • And more

Thankfully, you still have your skin to keep you together. If you’re experiencing any skin conditions, consider looking at the balance of your skin’s ECS and how it’s impacting the CB1 receptor on your body’s biggest organ.



  1. Bíró, Tamás et al. “The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities.” Trends in pharmacological sciences. 2009. vol. 30,8  411-20. [Times cited = 160; Journal Impact Factor = 12.108]
  2. Rio et al. “The endocannabinoid system of the skin. A potential approach for the treatment of skin disorders.” Biochemical Pharmacology. 2018. 157:122-133. [Times cited = 4; Journal Impact Factor = 5.009]
  3. Tóth et al. “Endocannabinoids modulate human epidermal keratinocyte proliferation and survival via the sequential engagement of cannabinoid receptor-1 and transient receptor potential vanilloid-1.” The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2011. 131(5):1095-104. [Times cited = 69; Journal Impact Factor = 6.448]
  4. Caterina, Michael J. “TRP channel cannabinoid receptors in skin sensation, homeostasis, and inflammation.” ACS chemical neuroscience. 2014. vol. 5,11:1107-16. [Times cited = 39; Journal Impact Factor = 4.21]

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Nicholas Demski

Nicholas Demski

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