Perform a quick Google search on CBD and testosterone, and you’ll quickly see the limited amount of consistent information available on the topic. However, this lack of knowledge isn’t due to a lack of interest in CBD and testosterone.
On the contrary, many people are taking an interest in CBD and its possible effects on and relationship with testosterone. Since the medical and scientific communities are only recently taking notice of all CBD’s benefits, there are still significant gaps in the overall knowledge base we have on the “miracle” cannabinoid known as cannabidiol (CBD), but we’re getting there.
In this article, we’ll explore the information and research that is currently available to us concerning CBD and testosterone to try and make headway on the topic.
CBD and Testosterone: The Research So Far
To understand the possible connection between CBD and testosterone, we can take a look at marijuana’s presumed effects on the male reproductive system. Although there are only a small number of studies on the topic, there is one study that found particularly telling data.
Before diving into the study, please keep in mind that the majority of the studies focus on Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid which has wholly different properties than cannabidiol (CBD). Unfortunately, with the limited amount of research, this is what we have to work with before more information on CBD and testosterone becomes available.
Between 2008 and 2012, researchers studied a total of 1,215 men between the ages of 18-28 to test the men’s level of health before entering the military. Part of the study included questions about the participants’ recent marijuana use–specifically, in the three months before the survey. Among the 1,215 men, 45.4% had smoked marijuana in the three months.
The overall goal of the study was to assess the association between use of marijuana and male reproductive hormones and semen quality. Of the participants who used marijuana more than once per week, 28% showed a lower total sperm count, suggesting that the use of marijuana can affect male reproductive health in this case.
It’s worth taking into consideration that, while THC has receptors in the testes, this is not necessarily the case for CBD. While research suggests that THC can alter hormone levels, it’s unclear at present if CBD has any effect on those same hormone levels. This lack of information leaves the interaction between CBD and testosterone rather vague.
Ultimately, the biological mechanisms by which marijuana affects hormone levels are not fully known.
Another study performed in 2015 found that men who reported daily marijuana use displayed significantly lower sperm concentrations and higher testosterone levels.
While the studies that focus on CBD and testosterone in human participants are minimal, there do exist a few animal studies on the matter. For example, one of the earliest pieces of research regarding CBD and testosterone was performed in June of 1977.
In this study, researchers found that male sexual and reproductive function can be affected by not only the psychoactive constituents of marijuana (THC) but also by the non-psychoactive components as well (CBD) in mice. Their results found significantly lower levels in the accumulation of testosterone in mice exposed to the cannabinoids in vitro.
Many people in what can be considered the “recreational” marijuana community suggest that marijuana has no real effect on testosterone and even that the claim is unfounded. However, even if there is some truth in the possibility that marijuana does not affect testosterone levels, it’s possible that CBD and testosterone have inconsequential interactions as well.
As you can see, the research surrounding CBD and testosterone is questionable at least and downright confusing at best. Fortunately, we do know a few things–at least when it comes to testosterone and the system responsible for the effects of CBD, the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
CBD and Testosterone: The Role of the Endocannabinoid System
Understanding the interplay between the ECS and testosterone will hopefully be useful in discovering the somewhat puzzling relationship between CBD and testosterone.
Let’s dive in.
The ECS is a powerhouse system of the human body, which houses the naturally-produced endocannabinoids in our bodies. Among many other critical biophysical roles, the ECS has a vital function in reproduction, which is important to take into account when discussing CBD and testosterone.
Cannabinoids scatter throughout the human body. AEA and 2-AG are two of the main endocannabinoids in the human body–both of which attach to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS. They exist everywhere from the central nervous system (CNS) to the testicles, peripheral nerves, the spleen, and even to the uterus, demonstrating the many ways in which the ECS relates to the reproductive system.
In addition, ECS is one of the primary regulatory feedback mechanisms in the “HPG axis,” which means that when CB1 and CB2 receptors are stimulated, the reproductive hormones are signaled and activated as well.
Unlike THC, CBD has no linear bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it indirectly affects the ECS through other neurotransmitter systems present. It’s vital to take into account that the binding of any cannabinoid to either of these receptors can have a negative impact on the male reproductive system during its presence in the bloodstream.
Moreover, while CBD is present in the human body, it might reduce the generation of testosterone. However, it can also stifle the decline or oxidation of testosterone in the liver, which is a good thing. Further, CBD is incapable of lowering the already circulating serum testosterone levels in the blood.
Ultimately, testosterone production does revert to its regular state when the CBD is no longer present.
CBD and Testosterone: Final Thoughts
Since CBD has no direct connection to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, its effects are more favorable to the male reproductive system than THC. This fact makes the future of CBD and testosterone hopeful for those invested in the matter. It will be especially salient to those males who would like to experience the benefits of CBD without negatively affecting their levels of testosterone. However, more research on the matter is necessary to know anything for sure.
- Endogenous cannabinoids: metabolism and their role in reproduction.
- Invited Commentary: The Association Between Marijuana Use and Male Reproductive Health.
- Association Between Use of Marijuana and Male Reproductive Hormones and Semen Quality: A Study Among 1,215 Healthy Young Men.
- Cannabinoids inhibit testosterone secretion by mouse testes in vitro.
- Effects of cannabinoids on testosterone and protein synthesis in rat testis leydig cells in vitro
- Mechanism for inhibitory effect of cannabidiol on microsomal testosterone oxidation in male rat liver.