Relaxation of laws related to CBD has intensified the research and manufacturing activities around CBD. Many CBD products have already shown favorable health benefits in treating many medical conditions including chronic pain, inflammation, seizures, stress, and anxiety, etc. Consumers are keen to learn more about the health benefits offered by CBD products.
One of the areas that have raised a lot of curiosities among the CBD users is its effect on the testosterone levels. They are excited to know whether CBD or other cannabinoids can help in boosting this vital sex hormone.
Well, to get the answer to this question, we need to learn a bit about CBD. We also need to learn about its interaction with different physiological systems that influence testosterone production in our bodies.
What is CBD?
CBD is the short form of Cannabidiol. It is one of the many compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plant species. Hemp and Marijuana are the two most popular plants of this species. Both these plants contain CBD. Marijuana contains low CBD content and has a high concentration of THC. THC is known to have strong psychoactive properties.
Hemp plant on the other hand contains a higher concentration of CBD with a trace amount of THC. It is important to note that many scientific studies have reported that CBD does not possess any psychoactive properties.
CBD is also reported to have many natural chemicals and other nutrients that have the potential to provide many health benefits including relief from different types of pain conditions, stress, and anxiety, inflammation, etc.
USFDA has not provided any guidelines and regulations related to any CBD activities until now. However, it has approved one medicine with the name Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the most important hormone in the male reproductive system. It is produced in the testes of the male human body. The hypothalamus and pituitary glands present in the brain triggers the Leydig cells present in the testes to produce testosterone.
The production of the hormones usually begins during puberty. It continues in varying degrees throughout life while touching its peak at the age of around 35-40 years.
Being the major male reproductive hormone it influences the entire functioning of the male reproductive system. The primary function of the hormone is in producing the sperm cells and regulating the male sex drive. In addition, it also plays a vital role in the generation of blood cells, the development & maintenance of bones & muscles, and the storage of fat in the body.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
It is interesting to know that our body has got a natural cannabinoid system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is a vital body system that interacts with many other systems of human physiology. The ECS contains endocannabinoids that act as neurotransmitters and bind to the cannabinoid receptors (CBRs).
There are several CBRs in the entire ECS however; CB1 and CB2 are the two most known receptors. The CB1 receptors are located in our central & peripheral nervous systems including the brain, glands, organs, and connecting tissues. while the CB2 receptors are located in our immune system.
So, being present in the entire body system in the form of CB1 and CB2 receptors the ECS plays an extremely important role in maintaining our physical health. Moreover, it also helps in maintaining a balance between various physiological and psychological processes of the human nervous system.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Having understood the basic components related to CBD and testosterone, now we can delve deeper into the symptoms and causes of low testosterone.
Each individual has a unique physiological system. And that is why similar deficiencies affect each individual differently. The same is true with low testosterone. Individuals at different stages of life will have different symptoms of low testosterone.
- Lower levels during adolescence can show symptoms in the form of delayed growth of body hair, genital development, and voice changes.
- An adult man can show up symptoms like lower energy levels, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, impotence, irritation, early tiredness, increased fat, reduced muscle mass, reduced bone strength, loss of memory, and lack in concentration, etc.
- Moreover, some individuals can also have symptoms like mood swings, stress & anxiety, and hypothyroid, etc.
- However, it is also important to note that symptoms can occur because of other biological systems as well. Therefore, it is important to consult a physician to ascertain the cause of the symptoms before taking any remedial measures. The physician can recommend you to get a few of the hormones tested to know the exact cause of these symptoms.
Causes of Low Testosterone
There are many causes of low testosterone. Each cause will call for a different treatment. Therefore, it is important to know the exact cause of the low levels and accordingly take the medication to cure the disease.
The production of testosterone begins during puberty and continues to increase until the age of 35-40 years. After this, the production starts decreasing at 1% every year.
The fat cells of the body produce the aromatase enzyme. These enzymes can convert the testosterone into another hormone called the estrogen. It means that if you have more fat cells in your body, the aromatase enzyme will convert more testosterone into the estrogen. This will reduce the total testosterone levels in your body.
So, obesity can also be a major cause of low testosterone.
Inflammation in any of your body parts tends to increase the level of the aromatase enzyme in your body. This, in turn, will reduce the testosterone levels by converting it to the estrogen hormone. The reduction in the testosterone level can further increase inflammation. It triggers a never-ending vicious circle of testosterone and the inflammation in your body.
Stress and Anxiety
Cortisol hormones present in adrenal glands control many functions in the human body. It is released by the trio of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal gland. The trio is known as the HPA axis.
The hormone is released in response to stressful situations. While the right level of cortisol is beneficial to the body, higher levels can cause many problems including a reduction in testosterone. So, chronic stress conditions will lead to higher cortisol and, in turn, to lower testosterone in the males.
Use of THC
The scientific study conducted on the effect of marijuana on male fertility shows the adverse impact. The study says that the THC present in the Marijuana hampers the effect of natural cannabinoids present in the body. It is important here to note that though both CBD and THC belong to the same plant species yet CBD does not show any evidence of having an adverse effect on male fertility.
There are many other factors that can contribute to reducing testosterone in the body. These can include the side-effects of other medications, the use of steroids, chemotherapy, head or testicle injuries, excessive alcohol consumption, and use of LSDs, etc.
Besides, other medical conditions like liver disorder, high sugar levels, hypothyroid, renal disease, and many other chronic medical disorders can cause a decrease in testosterone levels.
How CBD can Influence Testosterone?
After knowing the different causes of low testosterone levels, we will now find out which of these problems can be solved by using CBD.
Interaction with Endocannabinoid System
- As we observed that the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands found in the brain and the Leydig cells present in the testes are responsible for the production of the testosterone in the body.
- Both these glands in the brain and the testes have CB1 and CB2 receptors.
- Now, as the CBD binds with these CB1 and CB2 receptors, it might trigger the body endocannabinoid system. Triggering of ECS, in turn, can regulate testosterone production.
- However, it needs more clarity on whether the CBD would have a favorable effect on testosterone production or would adversely affect its levels.
- A study on the rats has found that the CBD influences the metabolism of testosterone in the liver. A reduction in testosterone breakdown might lead to higher levels of testosterone in the circulatory system. This, in turn, would balance the testosterone levels in the bloodstreams.
- Furthermore, CBD has also shown favorable results in reducing the production of prolactin hormones that can slow the production rate of the testosterone in your body.
However, there is still no research offering conclusive evidence on the direct relationship between CBD and its effect on testosterone by influencing the human endocannabinoid system.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can potentially help in increasing testosterone production in the body.
- CBD contains a plentiful of essential fatty acids like Omega 3 & 6 that interact with our body ECS to reduce inflammation.
- One of the studies reported a favorable link between using fatty acids and the level of the hormone responsible for male fertility. Participants in the study showed improved testicular function with an increase in the dosage of essential fatty acids.
- So, we can indirectly infer that the essential fatty acids present in the CBD can reduce the level of aromatase enzyme produced during the inflammation. The reduction in the level of aromatase enzyme can help stop the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can lead to an increase in testosterone levels.
- Besides, the fatty acids also help in quick recovery from pain conditions and smoothening the blood flow in the arteries. The combined effect would be in reducing the stress on your body, thereby, increasing your testosterone levels.
- Moreover, some research suggests that CBD helps in reducing cytokines by binding with CB2 receptors of the body ECS. Cytokines are responsible for regulating the immunity and inflammation of the body.
Managing Stress & Anxiety
As mentioned earlier, stress & anxiety increase Cortisol levels. Excess of Cortisol reduces the testosterone levels in the body. Many studies report that CBD helps in reducing stress and improving the overall emotional health of an individual.
A relaxed and stress-free condition will bring down the Cortisol levels in your body. This, in turn, will help your body restore and produce more testosterone.
So, while analyzing the effect of CBD on testosterone levels we could realize that CBD does influence the production of this vital hormone.
There is still limited research available to conclusively give a verdict on the direct relationship between the CBD and the testosterone production. However, there are certain physical & psychological medical conditions that adversely affect testosterone levels in the body and by treating these medical conditions, CBD definitely offers an indirect solution to the low testosterone levels.
It is also important to note that if scientific research lacks evidence in favor of a direct favorable link between the two, there are also no studies to show any adverse effect of CBD on testosterone production.
Having said it is always advisable to consult your physician before using CBD supplements in treating any of your medical conditions.