Marijuana can help regulate many things in the body from mood to pain management due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. This has many cannabis consumers wondering: Does cannabis affect hormone levels? And if so, how? Here’s what we know so far about cannabis and your hormone levels.
The Endocannabinoid System
There is room for a lot more research on marijuana’s hormonal impact. Despite this, it’s safe to say that something with such a powerful influence on the endocannabinoid system would also have hormonal repercussions.
This is largely due to THC, the cannabinoid we understand best. THC can reportedly alter neurotransmitters that are either linked to or located in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the portion of the brain that connects the nervous system to the endocrine system, which produces the body’s hormones.
We have a good grasp of cannabis’ effect on the endocannabinoid system, the body’s network of neurons responsible for a host of critical bodily functions.
These interactions are what make cannabis an effective painkiller, appetite stimulant and mood regulator.
As the body’s nervous system operates in relation to other bodily functions, cannabis would also produce an effect on hormone levels.
Cannabis’ Effect On Men’s Hormones
There is more conclusive research on how cannabis affects men’s hormones than women’s. And research suggests that it impacts reproductive hormones, for the most part.
This can ultimately lower testosterone production. The same study also found that THC limited growth hormone release, which is responsible for growing bone and muscle.
Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that using marijuana more than weekly, along with other drugs, contributed to a 55 percent total sperm count reduction.
It also found that that marijuana use increased testosterone production. It should be noted that using other drugs could have an effect on this study’s results.
Cannabis’ Relationship to Female Hormones Is A Little More Complicated
Does cannabis affect hormone levels in women? The scientific community knows less about cannabis’ effect on women’s bodies than on men’s.
“[…] High levels of THC can promote anti-estrogen activity, though science is still very limited … My guess is that Sexxpot, with the lower THC, regulates the body’s endocannabinoid system (the group of brain receptors that are involved with processes like pain, sensation, mood, and mediating effects of cannabis) and helps bring back the balance of hormones, but without sacrificing the therapeutic properties,” Theisen says.
Research Shows That Estrogen Largely Affects Cannabis’ Potency
Additionally, new studies confirm that the female body absorbs marijuana differently depending on estrogen levels. According to research conducted by Professor Rebecca Craft of Washington State University, female rats are approximately 30 percent more sensitive to THC than male rats.
This mainly resulted in higher pain tolerance.
“What we’re finding with THC is that you get a very clear spike in drug sensitivity right when the females are ovulating,” Professor Craft explains.
Estrogen can also have another effect on women’s experience with marijuana. Over just ten days, the female rates became much more tolerant of the effects of THC than the male rats. This would indicate that women are more likely to build up a tolerance to marijuana than men.
Craft also observed that cannabis did not disrupt the female rats’ reproductive cycles. It would appear that hormone levels determine cannabis’ potency for women, not the other way around.
Final Hit: Does Cannabis Affect Hormone Levels?
Though we need to further study cannabis’ effects on all genders, preliminary research shows that the answer to “does cannabis affect hormone levels?” is yes. Studies show that consuming cannabis does indeed have hormonal consequences.
These effects are largely on reproductive hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and on growth hormone. This information, while relevant to everyone, is especially useful for those going through or seeking hormone replacement therapy.
As cannabis use increases, we’ll have more time, and a larger sample pool, to study its impacts on a grand scale.