Having a fulfilling sex life is on the wishlist of most people, regardless of whether they’re in a relationship or single. While we can’t all be swinging from the chandeliers 24/7, most of us would at least like to have a healthy sex drive and experience orgasms that feature somewhere on the richter scale. But did you know that cannabis might be a botanical solution for unlocking our libidos?
This may not be news for regular cannabis consumers, who report having more intense and satisfying sexual experiences after consuming the herb. But researchers have recently discovered the science behind why this might be the case, and it’s all down to our endocannabinoid system.
Sex And The Endocannabinoid System
Scientists found that healthy subjects who had masturbated to orgasm had much higher levels of a natural cannabis-like chemical called 2-AG, which is part of the body’s endocannabinoid system. This suggests that 2-AG and the endocannabinoid system play an important role in achieving sexual arousal.
For the uninitiated, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a vast communication network of endocannabinoids (2-AG and anandamide) and special receptor sites that work to create homeostasis in the body. Discovered in the 1990s, it’s well known that the ECS is intricately involved in bodily processes such as including appetite, reproduction, pain regulation, mood, and sleep.
There is approximately 170 times more 2-AG in the body than the other main endocannabinoid, Anandamide, and it is thought to be involved in mood, metabolism, bone health, immune function, memory, movement, sleep, pain, neuroprotection, and now sexual pleasure. 2-AG binds with both main endocannabinoid receptors, but has greater affinity with the CB2 receptor found principally in the peripheral nervous system and gut.
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How Cannabis Affects the Endocannabinoid System
One of the reasons cannabis has such a widespread effect on our health is its ability to stimulate the endocannabinoid system. In particular, varieties containing THC bind directly to the endocannabinoid receptors in the central nervous and peripheral nervous systems, creating a similar effect to the body’s natural endocannabinoids.
There is another way that some cannabis compounds can affect the ECS. CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, blocks the FAAH enzyme responsible for breaking down anandamide and to a lesser degree, 2-AG. The suggested result is that both endocannabinoids remain present in the body for longer. Researchers believe then that CBD could increase what’s known as endocannabinoid tone, i.e. the amount of endocannabinoids in the body and the density of receptors.
Scientific Research Into Cannabis and Sex
Most of the research into cannabis and sex supports the real-life experiences of cannabis users - that compounds in the plant increase pleasant sensations around sex and can improve performance if taken in moderation.
One study on mice found that low doses of THC dramatically increased testosterone levels which were maintained for an hour after its application. However, high doses of THC caused testosterone to plummet after 20 minutes to levels well below the control group.
Another academic article examining the connections between long-term cannabis use and sexual health outcomes found a link between daily cannabis use and increased sexual partners, as well as difficulty in achieving desired orgasm for men.
So the scientific conclusion when it comes to cannabis and sex seems to be low doses on an occasional basis.
Real Life Tips for Cannabis And Sex
So let’s get out of the lab and talk how you can incorporate cannabis into your sex life.
1. Little and not very often
Whether you’re in a committed relationship, single or have got ‘friends with benefits’ - try microdosing cannabis to add another dimension to your lovemaking. Be careful though not to turn it into habit. If cannabis-spiced sex becomes the norm, the extra-sensual sensations just become par for the course. Not only that, you may even eventually feel that without it, sex just doesn’t make the grade. Remember, sex can be just as special when only under the influence of each other, and not an additional stimulant.
2. Try cannabis massage oils
There’s a vast array of cannabis infused oils and balms on the market. While not necessarily designed specifically for sex, discovering each other’s bodies through massage is both relaxing and aids arousal. And one can only imagine the heights of ecstasy that could be reached, when a little bit of cannabis is added into the oily mix.
3. Get in the mood with CBD
If you’re single or have been out of the dating action for a while, getting ‘back in the saddle’ can be rather nerve wracking. Unfortunately, enjoying sex can be an uphill struggle when we are feeling tense and anxious. So why not get yourself into ‘pre-match’ shape by regularly supplementing your diet with CBD. Studies show the non-psychoactive cannabinoid can reduce stress levels through activating the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. If we’re happy and relaxed, sex is always going to be better.
4. Sex-proof your endocannabinoid system through diet
Now we know that 2-AG plays such a key role in sexual arousal and orgasm, try introducing some lifestyle measures to give it a welcome boost. As ever, diet is important, in particular Omega 3 and 6 which can be found in hemp oil, free-range eggs, oily fish, and seeds. It’s also thought that probiotics might increase the efficacy of 2-AG by increasing the expression of CB2 receptors in the gut.
Ultimately, no article is going to turn a boring or barren sex life into the stuff of erotic novels. But when it comes to sex, we could all do with taking care of our endocannabinoid systems be it through regular use of CBD, microdosing weed from time to time, or upping the healthy fats in our diet.