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Cosmetic Side Effects of Cannabis: An Introduction Ayurveda & Western Perspectives

Ayurveda & Western Perspectives

Cannabis & Aging is a topic a reader asked about recently, and that made me think about how few studies exist about the long-term effects of cannabis, while modern medicine researches alcohol, tobacco and other chemical compounds exhaustively. It's important to know the effects of anything ingested but we have little information about cannabis long term effects on the body’s systems. The question that was asked was “does cannabis cause wrinkles and aging?”. This was a valid question, especially since cannabis is historically consumed by smoking, and smoking tobacco is well documented and publicly known to cause cosmetic side effects and a host of other conditions. The Marlboro Man wasn't known for supple skin and Camel Joe… well, you get the point.

Cannabis, with its complex chemical composition, has been a subject of intrigue and exploration, particularly concerning its effects on the cosmetic aspects of the human body. This article delves into questions surrounding the potential impact of cannabis on premature aging, its comparison with the act of smoking vs. edibles, and the contrasting perspectives of Eastern Ayurvedic and Western medicines.

Premature Aging and Cannabis:

While smoke inhalation from any source can affect the body, the correlation between cannabis and skin health remains a nuanced topic discussed by a few health conscious individuals across the internet. Ayurveda Medicine recognizes the medicinal qualities of cannabis but raises caution about its potential drying effects on the body's organs and muscles. Ayurvedic insightful observations show how cannabis may impact skin, hair, and nails, considering the age-related challenges in maintaining hydration.

Edible cannabis offers an alternative to smoking, potentially mitigating concerns related to the drying effects on aging skin and organs. After exploring Ayurveda's holistic perspective, it becomes crucial to understand how ingestion versus inhalation influences the body's hydration and overall cosmetic well-being.

My opinion is that cannabis-induced side effects  are less severe than those from heavy cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse, but acknowledging responsible use of cannabis requires an objective study of both short-term and long-term effects.

Encouraging cannabis consumers to consider side effects, emotional responses, and mental well-being when using cannabis is a responsible approach to consumption. The Western mainstream application is limited to the cosmetic industry's incorporation of cannabinoids, especially CBD, into skincare products, which prompts questions about the difference between topical application and ingestion. Exploring whether applying cannabis topically might yield different effects than ingesting it adds a layer of complexity to understanding cannabinoids impact on the body.

Ayurveda & Western Perspectives

East vs. West Medicine

Ayurveda Medicine, with its rich history, seems to provide more written knowledge on the effects of cannabis, emphasizing the importance of understanding and respecting diverse perspectives. Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine originating in India that views the effects of substances on the body through the lens of doshas (bioenergetic forces) and their balance. After only a few minutes of introductory research, I found that smoking, including cannabis, is believed to have a drying effect on the body’s organs according to Ayurveda.

Introduction to Ayurveda Principles:

  1. Vata Dosha Imbalance - Ayurveda categorizes individuals into doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Smoking is associated with an aggravation of the Vata dosha, which governs elements related to movement and dryness. The smoke is considered to introduce dry and light qualities, disrupting the natural balance of moisture in the body.

  1. Depletion of Ojas  - Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of "ojas," a subtle essence that represents vitality, immunity, and overall health. Smoking, including cannabis, is thought to deplete ojas, contributing to a sense of dryness and potential aging effects.

  1. Impaired Digestive Fire (Agni)  - Ayurveda emphasizes the significance of proper digestion (agni) in maintaining overall well-being. Smoking is believed to weaken agni, leading to incomplete digestion and the accumulation of toxins, further contributing to the drying effect on the body.

  1. Disruption of Prana (Life Force) - Prana, the life force, is vital in Ayurveda for maintaining vitality and balance. Smoking is thought to disrupt the flow of prana, affecting the body's ability to circulate fluids effectively and contributing to dryness.

  2. Effect on Rasa Dhatu (Bodily Fluids)  - Ayurveda recognizes "rasa dhatu" as one of the seven bodily tissues responsible for nourishing the body. Smoking is believed to disturb the balance of rasa dhatu, leading to a reduction in the nourishing fluids and contributing to a drying effect.

Medical & Cosmetic Cannabis Topicals

Western wellness and cosmetic companies utilize CBD and other cannabinoids in hand lotions for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, pain relief, and stress relieving properties. Cannabinoids, particularly CBD, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. When applied topically, they may help reduce inflammation in the skin, making them valuable in skincare products. CBD and other cannabinoids possess antioxidant properties, which can combat oxidative stress in the skin. This is essential for maintaining skin health and preventing premature aging caused by environmental factors. Cannabinoids may also have moisturizing effects on the skin. They can help retain moisture, potentially improving skin hydration and addressing dryness, which is in contrast to the drying effects associated with smoking in Ayurveda.

Interaction With The Endocannabinoid System

The skin has its own connection to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoids, when applied topically, may interact with the ECS receptors in the skin, influencing various processes such as inflammation, cell growth, and differentiation. Some topicals containing cannabinoids, particularly those with a balanced ratio of CBD to THC, are marketed for their potential pain-relieving effects. This can be beneficial for individuals dealing with localized pain or discomfort.

Ayurveda & Western Perspectives

Perceived Relaxation and Stress Reduction

The increasing popularity of CBD and cannabinoids in wellness and cosmetic products reflects consumer interest in natural alternatives. Companies respond to market demand for products perceived as holistic and potentially beneficial. Cannabinoids are believed to have calming effects, and therefore including them in skincare products may contribute to a sense of relaxation and stress reduction, enhancing the overall wellness experience for consumers. In my opinion any claims of CBD and these products aren't to dupe anyone but to enhance a wellness component by connotation. I hadn't thought of CBD supplements that way before now.

Responsible consumption and a collaborative dialogue between Eastern and Western medical perspectives will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the complex relationship between cannabis and the systems of the human body. Individuals interested in understanding the effects of smoking cannabis on their body from an Ayurvedic perspective should consult with Ayurvedic practitioners for personalized guidance. 

Disclaimer: here at Cannabis Cactus, we are not medical doctors, but we are open to playing one on TV. Thanks for reading. 

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