As we’ve mentioned in previous Roottie articles, our Endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors respond to Δ9-THC, endogenous ligands, and enzymatic systems which create what we’ve come to know as the usual effects of cannabis. In fact, the discovery of Δ9-THC coupled with the discovery of the ECS are the discoveries that opened the door for researchers and regulators to start recognizing the possibilities for therapeutic benefits within the plant’s chemical compounds.
Since that first discovery in 1964, researchers have devoted themselves to studying the various benefits of cannabis. For many years, based somewhat solely on personal testimony, cannabis has been considered an aphrodisiac. While the conversation started with using particular cultivars to inhibit the mood, now companies are utilizing cannabis in infused personal lubricants meant for topical application to enhance sexual activity. This is such a well-known use for the plant that a group of researchers has honed in on how exactly cannabis can help those dealing with sexual dysfunction.
This has been an especially topical subject matter since many of the pharmaceuticals prescribed to relieve symptoms of sexual dysfunction aren’t super reliable, and tend to have some pretty negative side effects. With that in mind Renata Androvicova, Jiri Horacek, Tibor Stark, Filippo Drago, and Vincenzo Micale compiled their detailed research paper in an attempt to expose the exact effects that cannabis can have on the pathophysiology of sexuality.
As presented in the paper, preclinical and clinical evidence supported the theory that the ECS does play a part in our sexual function. But even with their detailed work, there remains a grey area on the topic. This is because the exact role of the ECS in our sexual function has not yet emerged. The data showed cannabis to have biphasic effects on human sexual function. Meaning that when used in small doses cannabis can be beneficial to our sex lives, but overdoing it can be debilitating and possibly halt our sex drive.
Preclinical studies looked into how low doses of the endogenous cannabinoid AEA was expressed through a variety of receptors. In lower doses, it responds to one receptor and in higher, it inhibits a completely different one. This difference in which receptor is being utilized is what causes the biphasic effects. The development of this information could help when it comes to self-dosing with cannabis for sexual dysfunction, but no real conclusions have been met.
Before a regular physician will feel comfortable prescribing cannabis for this ailment, there are some places where more research is necessary. The unwanted psychotropic effects are generally the first mentioned unwanted side effect, and more understanding of the compounds of cannabis will be necessary before this innovative approach to treating sexual dysfunction through the ECS will be applied across the board. With the beginning of this groundbreaking study, more researchers can build on the data and hopefully, the role of the ECS in human sexual function will become more understood.
Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she put down her budtender hat and dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the cannabis plant fuel the passion in her posts.