By Robin Nixon
Marijuana-like substances made by the skin are necessary for a healthy complexion, a new study concludes.
The skin has joined the growing club of organs that is known to produce "endocannabinoids" — the body's own reefer. The biggest producer of endogenous pot is the brain.
Significantly, the new study pins down long-suspected connections between brain and skin and between stress and zits.
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Your thinking skin
In the skin, explained lead researcher Tamás Bíró of the University of Debrecen, Hungary, these compounds help the sebaceous glands protect us from harsh outer elements, such as the drying effects of wind and sun. Cannabinoids are thought to have a similar role in the leaves of the marijuana plant.
Among its protective functions, "endo-pot" stimulates oil production and tells hair follicles to stop producing hair. Whether this explains the plethora of pimples and receding hairlines at Grateful Dead concerts (or those of former band members) has not yet been determined.
The research, funded mostly by the Hungarian and German governments, will be detailed in the October 2008 issue of The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.
Why is a psycho-stimulant working outside the brain?