The Chemistry Into The Role Marijuana Plays In Sex
Experts have some fascinating news about weed and our sex drives, and it’s not quite what we all expected.
It’s all in a study titled “Masturbation to Orgasm Stimulates the Release of the Endocannabinoid 2-Arachidonoylglycerol in Humans,” published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The paper expresses a link between the orgasm state and the release of an endocannabinoid — chemicals produced by the human body — that looks and acts just like ones found in the marijuana plant.
Human sexuality can be divided into four states — desire, arousal, orgasm and satisfaction— and no sexual health medicines address this. Erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra and Cialis treat arousal in men, and that’s all. Interestingly, cannabis can help both men and women in all four of the sexual phases. It heightens the senses, leads to relaxation, opens the mind to deeper intimacy and promotes mindfulness.
Everyone seems to have an anecdote in the chamber involving marijuana and toe-curling sex, but scientists are interested in what specific molecules are involved in sexual satisfaction.
While many of us would have assumed that it was the THC making sex feel extra gratifying, the researchers of the orgasms and endocannabinoids study found that it’s not anandamide (THC’s endocannabinoid cousin) released during orgasm, it’s 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
Over the course of two studies, the researchers found that healthy individuals who masturbated to orgasm had elevated levels of 2-AG, not anandamide, concluding that 2-AG release plays a role in the reward aspect of sexual arousal and orgasm.
Although it doesn’t directly engage the CB1 or CB2 cannabinoid receptors, the CBD molecule does boost the body’s levels of 2-AG, which may indicate that high-CBD products could improve the action of 2-AG in sexual response.
One More Way Cannabis is Aiding Human Sexuality
Cannabis is an excellent sexual aid for those who have PTSD due to sexual trauma. THC binds to CB1 cannabinoid receptors that reside in the sexual response areas of interest, the hippocampus and amygdala. The two areas are linked to memory, the autonomic nervous system, and emotions such as fear and anxiety. Under the influence of THC, a person is less likely to experience anxiety or other negative feelings surrounding sex.
Equally notable is the fact that cannabis, specifically THC, use induces the impairment of short-term memory which is specifically suitable for keeping one’s mind in the moment during sex. When we’re not stressed out about the things waiting for us outside of the bedroom, we can relax and enjoy the sex happening on the bed (or wherever it’s happening, you animal).
In addition to just being an enjoyable way to unwind at the end of the day, marijuana eases symptoms of anxiety disorder and helps insomniacs get some much-needed shut-eye, and if it turns out that cannabis has benefits in the bedroom as well, it will undoubtedly stoke a whole new section of the market. Who needs a brand name erectile dysfunction drug when there’s a natural supplement that does the trick without the risks and four-hour hard on?
The study on orgasms and the release of 2-AG in humans did not explore whether anandamide hinders our ability to receive 2-AG during sex. They only proved a reliable link between orgasms and the chemical we produce before and during the climax.
There are also no studies exploring sex and marijuana dosage. Dosage is crucial if you plan on smoking or taking edibles before having sex, especially since large doses can interfere with the performance of men.
But if we know anything from watching the cannabis space for this long, it’s that one study leads to a new one, and maybe soon those who need to can precisely dose their way to a more satisfying sex life.