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Could Cannabis Have Some Viagra-Like Qualities to It?

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A recent research review has found that cannabis, even in small amounts, can act as a powerful aphrodisiac.

Yet another shot has been fired in the long-simmering battle about the effects of cannabis consumption on sexual desire and function. The most recent salvo came in the form of an article published in the November 2016 issue of the prestigious “Psychological Research” journal.

The article was actually a painstaking review of findings from previous scientific research studies that addressed questions related to the association, if any, between cannabis use and sexual motivation. According to an analysis of the review posted on BusinessInsider.com, roughly half the marijuana smokers studied said cannabis use had triggered “aphrodisiac effects” in them.

 

Enhances Sexual Pleasure

An even more impressive 70 percent reported experiencing “enhancement in [sexual] pleasure and satisfaction” after cannabis use. These findings, if borne out by follow-up studies, could represent a giant step forward in the treatment of both men and women who are suffering from a lack of sexual desire. Addyi, a drug designed to increase female sexual desire, the lack of which is the primary form of female sexual dysfunction, produces somewhat less impressive results and comes with a passel of nasty side effects and a high price tag.

While Viagra has been shown to have a number of medical benefits in addition to its use as a treatment for ED, not all men respond to the drug, and it’s possible that cannabis might help some of those men.

 

Affects Men, Women Similarly

This most recent review, carried out by a team of Czech and Italian researchers, found little difference in the aphrodisiac effects of cannabis on men from those on women. So while women reportedly suffer more frequently from a loss of libido, cannabis could also help men whose interest in sex has waned.

In the United States, cannabis use for medicinal purposes has now been legalized in slightly more than half the country, and a growing number of states have legalized or soon will legalize the recreational use of the drug. A major sticking point, however, is the conflict between state regulations governing cannabis use and those of the federal government.

 

DEA Says Cannabis Still Illegal

In an August 2016 announcement, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said that marijuana would remain illegal for any use under federal law. The drug is classified as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule 1 substances are determined by the Food and Drug Administration to have no medical use. This puts cannabis use in something of a legal limbo. State laws legalizing its use for medical and/or recreational purposes do so in defiance of federal law.

In a hint of a slight softening in the federal stance, the August announcement relaxed the regulations governing the cultivation of marijuana for scientific study. As of August 2016, the only federally approved grow facility for marijuana destined for scientific research is located in Mississippi.

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HHS: ‘No Accepted Medical Use’

In support of its most recent position on the legality of cannabis use, the DEA cited an evaluation of an evaluation from the Department of Health and Human Services. In that evaluation, HHS states that marijuana has no “currently accepted medical use.” The department based that conclusion on several findings: “The drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.”

Despite the obvious chasm between state and federal laws governing marijuana use, there has been something of a truce in recent years, during which federal authorities opted not to enforce federal law against cannabis use in states where such use is locally legal. Whether this truce will continue under the new presidential administration remains to be seen.

 

Mechanism of Action

Although the precise mechanisms of marijuana’s effects on sexual desire are unknown, the authors of the most recent study and other scientists theorize that cannabis’s psychoactive ingredient — tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — latches onto brain molecules known as cannabinoid receptors. These receptors regulate a number of functions, including cognition, coordination, memory, and pleasure.

 

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Could cannabis turn out to be the aphrodisiac that humans have long pursued?

While most of the earlier studies reviewed by the research team showed that half or more test subjects found that cannabis had a salutary effect on sexual desire, the findings also showed that too much or too little cannabis can have the opposite effect. For example, smoking 50 joints over the course of six months — roughly one joint every three to four days — increased sexual desire and enhanced sexual pleasure. In contrast, smoking only about one joint per week had no real positive effect and may in fact have decreased sexual pleasure.

Other studies showed that excessive cannabis consumption — more than a single joint per day — had a counterproductive effect on both sexual desire and the quality of sexual experience. So at least in this respect, the effects of cannabis on romance are not unlike those of alcohol.

If you’d like to read more about sexual health and function, as well as other news from the consumer health front, check out our blog.

About Don Amerman

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Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+