Cannabis continues to increase in popularity for both recreational and medicinal purposes. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the potential benefits of cannabis, (particularly of its non-intoxicating compound, CBD) for men’s health.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that is known for its potential health benefits, including pain relief, anxiety reduction, and sleep improvement. But the benefits of CBD go beyond that, and it’s recently being researched for its potential in treating various men’s health issues such as erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, and even testosterone levels.
In this blog, we will dive into the current research and explore the potential benefits and risks of using these compounds for men’s health issues.
CBD and Erectile Dysfunction
Recent research suggests that cannabinoids may have benefits for men’s sexual health, particularly in the area of erectile dysfunction (ED), an issue that affects as many as 30 million men. Symptoms of ED can include difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection, as well as a lack of sexual desire. ED can be caused by a variety of factors, including psychological stress, physical health conditions, and the use of certain medications. Determining the root cause of ED can help one to target the issue and decide if cannabinoid therapy could potentially help.
If emotional conditions are at the root cause of ED, then addressing the issue with anti-anxiety or antidepressant pharmaceuticals may be counter-intuitive. Some of these medications have had known side effects to include difficulty in getting an erection. Therefore, exploring options such as CBD with little to no known side effects, may serve as an alternative therapy where emotional conditions are concerned. Furthermore, research shows how the effects of CBD may help to improve libido in people who struggle with ED due to such psychological reasons. By reducing anxiety, CBD may be able to help improve sexual function.
Other conditions that list ED as a side effect of possible medications used to treat, include multiple sclerosis. New research is looking at the effectiveness of treating MS with cannabinoid therapy, thus helping to eliminate the risk of ED with traditional medication use.
Poor blood flow and cardiovascular conditions may also be contributing factors to erectile dysfunction or ED, and it can also be a cause of more serious underlying conditions such as blocked arteries, heart disease, or diabetes. Studies have shown CBD may help increase blood flow to the genital area, which could potentially help improve erections from such contributing factors.
When considering the benefits of THC vs CBD, it’s important to note that results of a review of five studies showed ED incidence may be twice as high in those who smoke cannabis with THC when compared with those who don’t. Put simply, chronic use of products high in THC may provide temporary relief for emotional conditions that affect performance, but in contrast cannabinoids such as CBD, and the more recently researched CBG, may have a greater potential to treat both underlying causes and common symptoms of ED without the negative side effects.
Prostate Cancer and Cannabinoid Therapy
Prostate cancer is a global public health problem and is the most common cancer in American men aside from non-melanoma skin cancer. Experimental evidence shows us that prostate tissue has cannabinoid receptors and stimulating these receptors can have an anti-androgenic effect, meaning that androgens are blocked from binding to androgen receptors, causing cancer cells to then starve.
Cannabinoid therapy has been used in association with several cancer types for decades now. One of the first studies completed to describe the antineoplastic (or acting to prevent, inhibit, or halt the development of a tumor) activity of cannabinoids was published in 1975. Here it was demonstrated that the administration of Delta-9-THC, Delta-8-THC, and cannabinol (or CBN) inhibited the growth of Lewis lung adenocarcinoma cell growth in vitro (outside a living organism) and in vivo (within a living organism) after oral administration to mice.
Since then, we have seen through research cannabinoids having an anti-proliferative (inhibiting tumor cell growth), anti-metastatic (inhibiting forming a secondary tumor), anti-angiogenic (reduction of blood vessels) and pro-apoptosis (cancer cell suicide) effects across various cancer types to include: lung, glioma, thyroid, lymphoma, skin, pancreas, uterus, breast, and prostate carcinoma using both in vivo and in vitro models.
Cannabis and the Debated Effects on Testosterone Levels
Current evidence is inconclusive to confirm the exact effect of cannabis and cannabinoids on male hormonal levels (some studies show positive while others suggest negative effects), however it is still worth mentioning. Here’s a look at some of the conflicting research:
- Men who report having consumed cannabis in the past year possess elevated levels of testosterone as compared to non-users, according to data published in the World Journal of Urology.
“[This] analysis of a nationally representative cohort suggests that there is a dose-dependent effect of THC on T levels.”
- A review of eight clinical trials reported that cannabis consumption does not have a significant effect on testosterone (T) levels. Five of those trials also investigated the effects of cannabis on luteinizing hormone (LH) & follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and the researchers reported that cannabis leads to small but significant decreases in FSH levels, while LH is decreased insignificantly.
- Another trial found a positive effect and 7% higher T levels in cannabis smokers than non-smokers. The increase was comparable to tobacco smokers but both tobacco and cannabis smokers had decreased semen quality.
- Research shows CBD lowers levels of pituitary gonadotropins as well as testosterone and may even lead to reduced testicular size.
- One large retrospective study which included more than 5000 participants reported that men who use THC regularly had higher T levels than those who don’t.
As our knowledge of the endocannabinoid system continues to evolve, we cannot make a definitive statement about how cannabis affects testosterone without further conclusive research.
For a Deeper Understanding
Few large-scale, high-quality studies have explored the connection between cannabis and men’s health and the outcomes depend on many factors. These may include your current medications, your overall physical and emotional health, and your wellness goals.
When looking to cannabis for medical conditions, we always recommend speaking with a healthcare professional. However, if you are in need of support while on your journey we are here to help. From product selection to dosing guidance to answering questions your family has about your decision to choose cannabis – we are here every step of the way. Send as an email to email@example.com, call us at 719-347-5400 or chat with us at realmcaring.org.