Testosterone can give virility and vitality that allows you to take life by the horns. Find out if CBD is useful for increasing testosterone. CBD can impact different hormones, but is testosterone one of them? Learn how CBD affects testosterone levels in your body and whether or not you should use it to boost them. Evidence suggests that CBD could play a role in balancing testosterone levels and indicates that it could also stifle the decline of testosterone in the liver.
CBD and Testosterone
Since CBD has become legal in the United States, researchers have been diving into the health benefits of this cannabinoid. The more we learn about CBD, the more we realize what this hemp plant extract is capable of. People are getting increasingly excited about using CBD for chronic health issues ranging from anxiety, to seizures, to inflammatory conditions, to chronic pain, with excellent results. But can CBD also be used for testosterone?
One area of particular interest to men is CBD and testosterone. Testosterone plays a role in sex drive, sexual function, body composition, and overall well-being. Men have been curious if the phytocannabinoid, CBD, could help them boost testosterone levels, or if CBD could potentially hinder their body’s testosterone production.
To answer this question, we will need to understand how the body regulates testosterone, what factors and health conditions can cause low testosterone, and how CBD may influence these processes.
Table of Contents
- What Causes Low Testosterone?
- What Are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
- How Do I Know if I Have Low Testosterone?
- What Does the Research Say on CBD and Testosterone?
- Is it True That Marijuana Can Affect Testosterone Levels?
- Final Thoughts on CBD and Testosterone
What Causes Low Testosterone?
In males, testosterone is produced by the Leydig cells of the testes. First, a small gland in the brain, the hypothalamus releases a hormone, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). Next, GnRH tells another small gland in the brain–the pituitary–to release two hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
These two hormones, FSH and LH, then travel to the testes where LH stimulates the Leydig cells to produce testosterone, and FSH stimulates sperm production.
There are several causes of low testosterone. As males age, they naturally produce less testosterone. After the age of 40, testosterone production decreases by 1% each year.
Also, the body can convert testosterone to estrogen through the aromatase enzyme. This enzyme is produced by fat cells, therefore being overweight can cause a man to turn a more substantial proportion of his testosterone into estrogen, thereby decreasing his total testosterone levels.
Inflammation can also play a role in low testosterone. Inflammation can increase the enzyme aromatase, which then lowers testosterone by increasing its conversion to estrogen. Furthermore, low testosterone can increase inflammation, creating a vicious cycle.
High-stress levels may also decrease testosterone production. Studies show that high cortisol levels, which are triggered by high levels of stress, leads to a decrease in the production of testosterone.
Other conditions that decrease testosterone production include:
- Previous steroid use
- Injury to the testicles
- Head injury
- Medications such as opioids and corticosteroids
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Liver or kidney disease
- Chronic disease
- High prolactin
What Are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone can affect each man differently. The symptoms a man experiences also depends on what stage of life he is in. For example, low testosterone during puberty can delay secondary sexual characteristic development, such as pubic hair, penile growth, and voice changes.
If a man experiences low testosterone after puberty, during his adult life, common symptoms may include:
- Decreased sex drive and function
- Depression and irritability
- Issues concentrating and remembering
- Low muscle mass and bone mass
- Increased fat mass
Each individual is different and may experience some or all of these symptoms. Also, many of these symptoms are shared with other conditions, such as hypothyroidism, depression, and chronic stress. Therefore, low testosterone could be contributing to these symptoms; however, there may be more factors at play than merely a testosterone imbalance.
How Do I Know if I Have Low Testosterone?
The best way to know if you have low testosterone is by running lab tests. Your doctor can order a panel of hormone labs which look not only at testosterone, but other hormones such as estrogen, prolactin, thyroid, and sex-hormone binding globulin, which can affect hormone balance.
You doctor may also want to look into other causes of testosterone imbalance such as sources of inflammation, kidney and liver function, blood sugar, and your body mass index.
Once your doctor assesses all of these factors, you and your doctor will have a better understanding of whether you have low testosterone and, if so, why.
What Does the Research Say on CBD and Testosterone?
There are numerous causes of low testosterone production. Therefore there is no one-size-fits-all approach. CBD may influence testosterone production through its effect on the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, scattered through the brain and body. When stimulated, these receptors influence behavior, inflammation, pain perception, and more.
There are CB1 receptors in male reproductive organs, including the testes where testosterone is made, as well as in the hypothalamus of the brain, where testosterone production is controlled. Since CBD stimulates CB1 receptors, researchers have begun to look into how CBD may affect testosterone production and regulation.
These findings suggest that CBD may influence testosterone production and regulation. However, it is not clear if it increases or decreases testosterone. More research is needed in this area.
Animal studies using rats found that CBD influences the breakdown of testosterone in the liver. If testosterone is broken down at a slower rate, it means there that circulating testosterone levels will become higher.
What we do know is CBD can influence some of the causes of low testosterone: stress, high cortisol levels, and inflammation.
Research shows that CBD is effective at reducing inflammatory cytokines by stimulating the CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. As previously mentioned, inflammation can lead to lower testosterone levels.
Also, there is strong evidence to support that CBD helps to lower anxiety and stress levels. Stress and anxiety are triggers for cortisol release, which is another cause of low testosterone.
In summary, there is potential for CBD to help increase natural testosterone production; however, we still require more research.
Is it True That Marijuana Can Affect Testosterone Levels?
You may have heard that using marijuana can impair fertility and testosterone levels in men. According to the research, there is some truth to this. You may be wondering if this applies to CBD products as both CBD and marijuana are from the same plant family, Cannabis Sativa.
Studies that looked at marijuana use and its impact on male fertility have found there’s a negative impact on male reproductive health. What they reported is that the cannabinoids found in marijuana compete with the human body’s natural cannabinoids. However, unlike CBD oil, marijuana contains high levels of 9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana.
These researchers also found that it is THC, not CBD, which has a negative impact on male fertility.
It is important to note that CBD oil is derived from the industrial hemp plant, not the marijuana plant. The industrial hemp plant contains only trace amounts of THC, to begin with, and CBD products are further processed to remove THC. Since CBD products in the United States must contain less than 0.3% THC, these research findings do not likely apply to CBD oil.
Animal studies have also found that THC reduces testosterone production in the testes. Also, other animal studies found that both THC and CBD can increase, or decrease testosterone production, depending on the dose. Keep in mind, these studies were performed on rats, so human studies are necessary to confirm these findings.
While it is true that marijuana appears to impact testosterone levels negatively, CBD products are entirely different in composition. We, therefore, cannot assume that CBD will have the same effects on male hormone production as marijuana.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Testosterone
The CBD industry is exploding, and people are excited by the many uses of CBD with very few side effects. Men are questioning whether or not CBD could influence their testosterone production, either positively or negatively.
What we do know is likely marijuana harms testosterone production. This is due to the THC content, which CBD products do not contain.
CBD may be useful in boosting testosterone through its anti-inflammatory, and stress reducing effects, which are two reasons men may experience low testosterone. Also, CBD may slow the rate of testosterone breakdown in the liver.
To date, there has not been enough research to know the effects of CBD on testosterone levels with certainty. What we need is more studies and tests regarding humans, to understand how CBD truly affects testosterone.
CBD Oil and Testosterone: Does It Affect Hormones?
The question about CBD and testosterone (and other hormones, for that matter) is one of the most frequently asked questions that we’re being hit lately — and we believe this is the right moment to elaborate on this subject.
After all, hormones play an important role in influencing and regulating a wide range of physiological and psychological processes.
So, does CBD affect testosterone?
Studies suggest that CBD, indeed, impacts testosterone levels — but we don’t know yet to what extent.
Here we explain the relationship between CBD and testosterone based on the cannabinoids’ interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — the most important regulatory network in all mammals.
Does CBD Affect Hormones?
Before we discuss the topic of CBD and testosterone, it’s important to understand how hormones work in the first place.
Hormones are specific chemical messengers that enable one part of the body to communicate with another, so the body is constantly working in a state of equilibrium.
As a whole, the hormones and the glands they’re produced in are known as the endocrine system.
Glands occur throughout the body, releasing specific hormones into the bloodstream so they can travel to different systems and organs in your body.
This, in turn, builds a communication network that provides your body with biological feedback.
The most important functions of hormones are:
- Sex drive
Hormone levels naturally fluctuate depending on the time of the day, a person’s stage of life (e.g. pregnancy, adolescence, or menopause).
Hormones are also prone to imbalances throughout different stages of life. These imbalances can trigger different disorders, which can turn into chronic illnesses.
One of the major difficulties faced today is the impact of environmental toxins on our hormones. These include industrial chemicals, plastics, and pesticides that mess with the endocrine system.
How CBD Affects Hormones
CBD uses three different mechanisms to regulate hormonal functions.
Cannabinoid receptors occur throughout the body and respond to our naturally-produced endocannabinoids. When the endocannabinoids bind to these receptors, this can change the way hormones are secreted, altering their impact on target organs.
Since CBD indirectly modulates the endocannabinoid system (ECS), it has the potential to alter the synthetic and secretion of hormones in a similar way to endocannabinoids.
Hypothalamus is the brain’s region where most changes in hormone synthesis take place upon the activation of CB1 receptors. This triggers a series of hormonal reactions that send their messages to other glands, which then release and secrete their own hormones as a natural course of action.
CBD can impact the ‘volume’ of signals received at a target organ from a hormone. The reaction of a cell receptor for specific hormones can be either amplified or dampened by cannabinoids — increasing or decreasing the strength of the message.
Hormones need to be broken down and flushed from the system once they have performed their function so that homeostasis can be maintained in the body. CBD can alter the pace at which enzymes break hormones down.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a naturally-produced hormone that occurs in the primary sex organs of the human body. It is usually first produced during puberty and continues throughout life, eventually slowing after a person breaches the age of 30.
Testosterone plays an important role in many of the body’s functions. To begin with, it regulates your sex drive and is responsible for the production of sperm in men. It also helps in the development, growth, and maintenance of muscles and bones.
Other functions of testosterone include fat storage and the production of blood cells. The pituitary gland is where testosterone in your body is produced and distributed.
Low testosterone levels have been associated with:
- Mood swings
- Increased weight gain
- Thinning body hair
- Feelings of tiredness
- Loss of muscle
- More fragile bones
CBD And Testosterone: What’s the Role of the ECS?
The ECS is a system in the mammalian body that regulates all biological functions in the body through its receptors and chemical messengers known as endocannabinoids.
Among the many critical functions of the ECS is reproduction — the major reason why we’re discussing the relationship between CBD and testosterone.
The ECS is also used to provide the primary regulatory feedback to the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Upon the activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors, the reproductive hormones are also stimulated.
But, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a direct affinity to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it indirectly influences the ECS through gentle signaling and inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down endocannabinoids.
If CBD had the ability to bind to CB1 receptors, it could produce adverse effects on testosterone levels and the male reproductive system.
Research suggests that CBD could play a role in balancing testosterone levels. One early study on CBD and testosterone found that the male reproductive function in animal subjects could be influenced by both THC and CBD.
Another study published in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology concluded that CBD might reduce the production of testosterone, but not to such an extent as THC.
What CBD cannot do, however, is lower the already-circulating serum testosterone levels in the blood, as indicated by a study posted by Drug Metabolism and Disposition that was performed on rats.
When you stop taking CBD, testosterone production should revert to its normal levels.
How Does CBD Affect Testosterone Levels?
The American Psychological Association outlines ongoing stress over an extended period of time as one of the main causes of lowered testosterone production, resulting in a reduction of sex drive and libido. Sometimes, chronic stress can even lead to erectile dysfunction or impotence.
Studies have shown that CBD can help increase the body’s testosterone levels by signaling the ECS to produce more of the hormones.
In a study released in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, CBD demonstrated anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) qualities.
The authors reported that CBD could be a natural way to treat social anxiety and general anxiety disorders along with cognitive behavioral therapy.
By reducing the amount of psychological stress a person experiences, CBD can help their body produce more testosterone and thus help to boost sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg.
When your body is chronically stressed, it takes a toll on your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections as a result. In males, infections to the testes, prostate gland, and urethra can impact their reproductive functioning, including the concentrations of testosterone.
Research has shown that CBD also interferes with the release of cytokines, which are proteins involved in acute and chronic inflammation.
How Other Compounds In CBD Oil Can Help Regulate Testosterone Levels?
The essential fatty acids found in hemp extracts, such as CBD oil, have been shown to boost testosterone production.
A 2020 study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology investigated the association between fat intake and reproductive hormone levels among healthy human participants.
The study found that ingestion of polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 and 6, can increase hormone concentrations.
Ultimately, the research team showed that people who consume more essential fatty acids experienced enhanced testicular function, directly translating into higher levels of testosterone.
Should You Use CBD to Support Testosterone?
It’s important to note that all cannabinoids are going to affect your testosterone levels because of their relationship with the ECS.
Research is still being fueled into CBD and testosterone. The majority of evidence suggests that using CBD daily won’t increase your testosterone levels, but it’s not going to decrease them either.
However, by influencing certain processes in the brain, CBD can ease stress, reduce pain and tension, help us achieve more restful sleep, and regulate other functions that contribute to higher testosterone concentrations.
So, while CBD oil alone won’t directly affect your testosterone levels, its balancing effects on the endocannabinoid system can make it a desired side effect.
Other Hormones Affected by CBD
Testosterone isn’t the only hormone affected by CBD. Here’s how the cannabinoid may interact with other hormones in your body.
Although no study has directly analyzed the effects of CBD on thyroid hormones, the ECS is engaged in regulating their levels.
Endocannabinoids encourage the sparing and storage of energy, partially by lowering thyroid hormone levels.
CBD could theoretically act on thyroid hormones both ways, as it can both dampen and amplify the activity of endocannabinoids. Whether CBD may decrease or increase thyroid hormones depends on your thyroid’s overall health.
Researchers found that anandamide suppresses TSH only in normal and in hypothyroid conditions (high TSH), and not in hyperthyroid conditions, where TSH is low.
The above suggests that CBD, as well as endocannabinoids, have adaptogenic properties, helping to balance individuals according to their own needs.
Estradiol E2 (Estrogen)
Estrogen levels influence sexual development, fertility, and susceptibility of females to certain diseases such as breast cancer.
Studies using CBD in cell cultures found that it suppressed estrogen production directly by blocking an enzyme that converts testosterone into it (aromatase).
Aromatase blockers are used to lower estrogen levels in cases of post-menopause and breast cancer. CBD can also speed up the breakdown of estrogen by acting on p450 enzymes in the liver.
However, these antiestrogenic effects of CBD haven’t been replicated on animal or human models so far.
Moderate to high amounts of CBD were not linked to changes in estrogen after 90 days in female monkeys.
Growth hormone signals the regeneration and reproduction of cells, aiding the body in healthy growth and development.
Increased growth hormone contributes to :
- Enhanced ability to burn fat
- High energy levels
- Increased muscle muss
- Improved exercise capacity
- Stronger bones
CBD hasn’t been shown to affect growth hormones, unlike THC, which has been shown by observational studies to lower the growth hormone levels in adults.
Insulin is a key hormone in regulating your metabolic health. It has a great impact on energy levels and body weight.
In a recent study, CBD was able to help those with diabetes by reducing high levels of insulin while maintaining correct blood sugar levels. In other words, CBD sensitizes muscles and liver cells to absorb more sugar, helping to maintain its stable concentrations.
CBD also reduced body weight gain in rats by reducing insulin.
Low doses of CBD haven’t been shown to affect the insulin level of patients.
That being said, a 2018 study showed that frequent cannabis users have 16% lower fasting insulin levels than non-users, and since CBD is the second major cannabinoid in the plant, it can either enhance such effects in THC or provide these benefits on its own (which may not be experienced with lower THC levels).
Also known as the stress hormone, it signals the body of an upcoming danger. Short-term cortisol spikes are beneficial and mean that we’re actually aware of potentially dangerous things in our environment.
CBD has remarkable stress-relieving properties. It acts as a braking system on the stress response by influencing the GABA neurotransmitter, which slows down the nervous system. It can also affect cannabinoid receptors in the hypothalamus — the brain’s region that is connected to adrenal glands. This interaction slows down the release of cortisol and allows us to relax.
Human studies have proved that CBD modulates cortisol release, pointing to it as the major reason why people use CBD for stress and anxiety.
Key Takeaways on How CBD Affects Testosterone
Although CBD doesn’t directly affect testosterone levels, in the long run, it can facilitate certain processes in the body that help it maintain high levels of this hormone. This is possible thanks to the modulatory actions of CBD on the endocannabinoid system, which is engaged in reproductive functions.
CBD can reduce stress, improve your sleep, lower anxiety, ease pain and inflammation, and improve your metabolic health — all of which contribute to proper testosterone levels.
If you’re not used to cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, you may experience some initial changes in your hormones. However, as your endocannabinoid system gets accustomed to CBD, these hormones will eventually return to their normal levels.
To wrap it up, we recommend consulting a doctor experienced in cannabis use before embarking on a CBD regimen or using it as an adjunct treatment.
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Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
CBD Oil and Testosterone – August 2022
Does CBD impact testosterone levels, and if so, how?
Testosterone is the dominant sex hormone in males. Besides helping maintain a healthy mood, testosterone plays several essential roles.
These roles include the development of the penis and testes, muscle size, strength, sperm production, and sex drive or libido (1 ) .
Testosterone is also one of several androgens (male sex hormones) in females, and they are produced in the adrenal gland and ovaries.
Androgens have significant effects on a variety of bodily functions, such as the ovaries , bone strength, and sexual behavior, including healthy libido.
The proper balance between testosterone (including androgens) and estrogen is vital for the ovaries to work healthily.
While the specifics are uncertain, it is possible that androgens also play a critical role in normal brain function, including mood, sex drive, and cognitive function.
A testosterone levels test measures the levels of testosterone in the blood. Testosterone levels that are either too high or too low can cause health problems in both men and women . (2 )
CBD and Testosterone: The Role of the ECS Explained
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of the human body which includes the naturally-produced cannabinoids.
Among its many critical bodily functions is its vital role in reproduction , which is essential to consider when discussing CBD (cannabidiol) and testosterone (3 ) .
The ECS is also one of the primary regulatory feedback mechanisms in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. When CB1 and CB2 receptors are triggered, the reproductive hormones are also signaled and activated (4 ) .
However, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) , CBD does not directly bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it indirectly impacts the ECS through other neurotransmitter systems present.
The binding of cannabinoids to either receptor can have adverse effects on the male reproductive system.
Evidence suggests that CBD could play a role in balancing testosterone levels.
In one of the earliest research on CBD and testosterone, researchers found that male sexual and reproductive function in animal models could be affected not only by THC but also by CBD (5) .
In a study published in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology , the researchers noted that CBD might reduce the generation of testosterone in rats but the effect was worse with THC (6 ) .
The results also indicated that CBD could stifle the decline or oxidation of testosterone in the liver.
CBD, however, cannot lower the already-circulating serum testosterone levels in the blood, as shown in a study , published in Drug Metabolism and Disposition, that was conducted in rats (7 ) .
Ultimately, testosterone production reverts to its natural state when CBD is no longer present.
CBD’s Impact on Testosterone Levels
According to the American Psychological Association, ongoing stress over an extended period can affect testosterone production, resulting in a decline in sex drive or libido. It can even cause erectile dysfunction or impotence (8 ) .
Meanwhile, studies have shown CBD’s therapeutic benefits that might impact testosterone levels by helping the body produce more of the hormones.
A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology demonstrated CBD’s anti- anxiety characteristics (9 ) .
The authors noted that CBD could be a useful addition to treatment plans for both social and general anxiety disorders.
By limiting the amount of emotional stress individuals feel, they can help their body produce testosterone.
When stress affects the immune system , the body can become vulnerable to infection. In the male anatomy, infections to the urethra, testes, and prostate gland can impact male reproductive functioning (10 ) .
Meanwhile, research has demonstrated that cannabinoids, like cannabidiol, can interfere with the release of cytokines (11 ) . Cytokines are proteins involved in acute and chronic inflammation (12 ) .
Also, the essential fatty acids found in hemp extracts, like CBD oil, have been shown to help increase testosterone production.
A year-long study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology examined the link between fat intake and reproductive hormone levels among healthy human subjects (13 ) .
The study found a positive correlation between the ingestion of polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 and 6, and hormone concentrations.
Ultimately, results showed that subjects who increased their intake of essential fatty acids experienced improved testicular function, which likely helped improve their levels of production of testosterone.
Most experts recommend that individuals looking to improve their testosterone levels naturally should focus on prioritizing sleep , eating a healthy and balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and finding ways to reduce stress.
CBD can be utilized in all of these measures, as the potent cannabinoid has been shown to possess several therapeutic benefits that may help manage and improve testosterone levels.
Still, before embarking on a CBD regimen or including it as an adjunct therapy, consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use for advice.