The Use of Topical Cannabinoids for Tissue Fibrosis (Scars)

Tissue fibrosis refers to the thickening of our skin as a result of our body’s natural ability to repair themselves by replacing various layers of skin when needed. This is a simplified version of what actually happens, and it doesn’t just happen on your skin. Fibrosis can happen to almost every tissue in the human body and results in numerous problems for the patient down the line.

For this writeup I will focus mostly on fibrosis on the skin, but the effects of cannabinoids overall on scarring will be an interesting topic of research in the coming years. Current products on the market geared towards the healing of scars typically stress anti-inflammatory and/or immunosuppressive properties. There is no gold standard for the treatment of tissue fibrosis so a multifaceted approach is typically the best.

While most of the research in cannabinoids is geared towards their effects on the central nervous system and immune processes, there is strong data to suggest that skin-level cannabinoid signaling is essential for the proper maintenance of our skin. A study in 2019 demonstrated antiproliferative and antiinflammatory effects of CBD treatment in patients with acne scars specifically. After a 3-month treatment period, the evaluated skin parameters significantly improved in all 20 subjects. The research team attributed their positive findings to CBDs’ known ability to normalize fatty-acid synthesis, suppress cell proliferation and silence proinflammatory mediators.

There have been promising results in small trials, but as with most therapeutic areas looking into the potential use of cannabinoids, much more research needs to be done. The trial mentioned above utilized pure-CBD ointment, but both CBD and THC are being looked at in many trials to determine their effects individually as well as in tandem for dermatologic conditions. While larger studies need to be done the preliminary results are promising, especially since there are currently very few options for people looking to treat scarring. 


Suthahar et al., 2017; Lands and Stanojevic, 2019; Simon et al., 2019

Palmieri B, Laurino C, VadalĂ  M. A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. Clin Ter. 2019 Mar-Apr;170(2):e93-e99. doi: 10.7417/CT.2019.2116. PMID: 30993303.

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