Does weed help, harm – or both? The research is scant, but relaxed marijuana laws and lots of industry interest, pro-hair solutions from cannabis might come soon.
For decades, the beneficial effects of cannabis – marijuana and hemp derivatives – were not subjected to rigorous scientific review. The best one could do in determining if a joint, an edible, creams, or other forms of cannabis delivery could do anything was to go on hearsay and whatever was reported in High Times magazine.
This is because it was (and still is on the federal level) considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This precluded any research as it was considered a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a potential for abuse.” However, as 18 US states now allow adult use of marijuana for recreational purposes, and all but four states still outright prohibit it (the others permit medical use or allow CBD derivatives), there is greater attention being paid to how the components of cannabis can be used to solve medical issues.
Those issues might include hair loss, and cannabis might well become find its way into culturally acceptable hair loss solutions, in the form of over the counter products, medications, or treatments provided by hair loss treatment clinics.
But there are many kinds of hair loss. And there are several components of cannabis, each with its own properties. It would take higher degrees in chemistry and biology to understand the interactions of these variables, but here are indicators of how the two intersect in some meaningful way:
Components of hair interact with cannabis derivatives. Both THC (tetrahydro- cannabinoil) and CBD (cannabidiol, the non- “high” part) have nutrients, which can be ingested topically or orally (not likely through inhaled smoke or vaping). CBD has omega fatty acids, which in oil form keep the scalp and hair healthy with moisture content. It also promotes the production of collagen and elastin, which contribute to hair thickness. In an overall sense, CBD is an anti-inflammatory – that’s why it’s used in anti-pain salves and ointments – which might counter the effects of autoimmune diseases that lead to hair loss (alopecia areata, for example).
But there are more claims than solid research to back them up at this point. Considered an over-the-counter supplement, those claims do not need to be approved by the Food & Drug Administration.
Physical activity. By and large, healthy lifestyles (exercise and diet, avoidance of excessive alcohol, and cigarette smoking) contribute to healthy organs overall. The skin (scalp) is an organ, and the health thereof will enable the best hair possible, all genetic factors taken into consideration (i.e., the bulk of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, which no number of pushups and kale salads will stop).
What does that have to do with cannabis? The general expectation is that cannabis users are sedentary, prone to getting high, settling into a sofa, streaming shows and ordering pizzas. But that stereotype may well be wrong. A 2021 study published in Harm Reduction Journal (“Cannabis use, sedentary behavior, and physical activity in a nationally representative same of US Adults,” Ong, Bellettier, et al.) found that cannabis users’ sedentary behavior was no different from non-users. Further, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder are conducting a study (“SPACE, Study on Physical Activity and Cannabis Effects”) to look at cannabis use mixed with exercise. A preliminary finding is that 80 percent of cannabis users mix weed with working out.
So, while the research is incomplete, there seems to be little risk in applying CBD products that make claims, however unsubstantiated, about hair restoration efficacy. And if you exercise while high, do so safely and perhaps your healthy glow and thicker hair will be the aesthetic improvement you’re looking for.