Can CBD help with libido?
- A 2008 study mentioned that 32% of women and 15% of men, who are around the ages of 18 and 59, suffer from a lack of sexual desire(1). Although many factors can lead to low libido, psychology is one of the most commonly cited in many cases.
- Meanwhile, low testosterone is also seen to potentially cause libido concerns in both men and women. Studies revealed that men with erectile dysfunction and women with decreased sexual desire might benefit from testosterone therapy(2-3).
- The consumption of CBD (cannabidiol) is an intriguing and possibly viable solution for individuals suffering from low libido. CBD has the potential characteristics that may encourage sexual activity by relieving anxiety(4) and improving blood circulation(5), which are the two common causes of reduced sexual desire.
- However, there is no direct clinical evidence that proves CBD can treat people with libido problems, primarily since most of its studies were carried out on animals. Always consult with a doctor first for any health concerns including low libido, and before starting CBD.
Why Some People Are Turning to CBD for Libido
The term low libido is used when an individual does not feel the desire for sexual activity. According to a study in 2008, 32% of women and 15% of men, who are between the ages of 18 and 59 years, experienced a lack of sexual interest, which lasted for several months(6).
The same study mentioned many reasons for low libido, with psychological factors being the most common. A person diagnosed with a sexual dysfunction disorder may have a psychophysiological (connection between mind and body) problem(7).
A study in 2019 supports the concept that psychology plays a huge part in sexual desire among men. According to the author, psychological factors like depression, relationship problems, and anxiety are often the cause of decreased sex drive(8).
If the cause for low libido is psychological, various treatments, such as behavioral therapies, are said to help. Counseling may contribute to addressing relationship concerns while understanding the role of stress, and how it affects sexual function, is also essential(9).
Meanwhile, low testosterone levels are also seen as a potential cause for libido concerns in both men and women.
A study in 2017 revealed that testosterone therapy might benefit men with erectile dysfunction (ED) and low sexual desire(10). Meanwhile, the treatment is also considered a possible solution for women with reduced libido (11).
However, most of these studies’ findings have not been confirmed.
Some people have started exploring other ways to boost their sex life by using alternative forms of therapy. Among the most intriguing remedies for low libido is the consumption of cannabidiol or CBD.
CBD is a compound obtained from the Cannabis sativa plant, which does not cause psychoactive effects commonly linked with the marijuana plant. CBD is believed to have several therapeutic applications, including the potential ability to alleviate anxiety(12), a condition often associated with low libido.
A study in 2018 mentioned that CBD may exert vascular effects, causing vasodilation or the widening of blood vessels(13). Since proper blood circulation is essential in maintaining an erection, this finding could be a hint that CBD may help with erectile dysfunction. Formal studies on humans are yet to be done to determine if there is any benefit in this specific regard.
How CBD Oil Works to Help with Libido
Learning about the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), and how cannabinoids affect it, is essential to understand how CBD may help with low libido concerns.
First, the supposed healing properties of cannabinoids, such as with CBD, are due to how they interact with the ECS and its receptors(14).
The ECS primarily regulates various functions in the body, including its response to pain, infection, sleep, mood, anxiety, and appetite.
In a 2012 study found in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers stated that the ECS plays a vital role in mediating elements of anxiety behavior(15). The scientists found that the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the ECS might be manipulated to provide anti-anxiety effects.
The study also mentioned that cannabinoids might encourage the activation of specific responses in the body. One of the compounds highlighted was CBD, which they say alleviates anxiety by its interaction with the ECS(16).
A study published by the Neurochemical Research Journal showed that CBD might inhibit the reuptake of serotonin present in the brain. This interaction results in the chemical being made more available in the body, a mechanism similar to how antidepressants exert their effects(17).
Often known as the “feel good” chemical, serotonin affects a wide range of psychological functions, influencing aspects such as one’s happiness and mood. It is yet unclear how much benefit CBD could provide on mood.
The findings of the above studies could indicate that CBD may be used to regulate serotonin levels present in the body, thus reducing anxiety.
Since psychology is considered one of the leading causes of decreased sex drive, taking CBD supplements to treat anxiety could be reasonable and might improve libido. However, always consult a doctor before taking CBD or for any health concern.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Libido
- Studies suggested that CBD has the capacity to improve the mental well-being of a person by its interaction with the ECS. Since psychology is often associated with sexual arousal, people with low libido, that use CBD, may experience improved sex drive.
- Organizations, like the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recognize the potential health benefits that cannabidiol may possess and support further research in this area(18).
- CBD does not cause a euphoric high in users upon intake, unlike its mind-altering counterpart, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
- In states where it is legally sold, CBD oil can be bought and consumed without a prescription. You should always consult a doctor first, regardless.
- The studies mentioned above lack sufficient clinical evidence to determine if CBD can indeed help people with low libido.
- At the time of writing, Epidiolex is the only CBD product on the market that is approved by the FDA for treating epilepsy(19).
- Although often well-tolerated, experts warn that CBD might cause side effects, such as diarrhea, reduced appetite, fatigue, drowsiness, and dry mouth(20).
- CBD is poorly regulated, with labeling accuracy for products sold online being one of the biggest concerns, according to a study in 2017(21).
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Libido
Testosterone therapy is considered a potential solution for people with low libido. However, there are no direct findings that prove this treatment to be effective.
Some people have started taking natural remedies and aphrodisiacs, hoping that these can improve their libido and sex drive. Gingko, red ginseng, maca, and fenugreek are among the alternative solutions that are being used.
These remedies are taken due to how they supposedly bring about positive effects in the body.
For instance, men that consumed maca supplements daily experienced increased sex drive(22). Meanwhile, premenopausal women were observed to have improved sexual function after consuming red ginseng, according to a 2015 study(23).
On the other end, CBD has shown to have the capability to affect both the physical and mental well-being of its user.
Researchers believed that CBD can improve blood flow and circulation(24), and this may allow men with erectile dysfunction achieve and maintain an erection better.
In terms of psychology, studies showed that CBD may influence the system in our body responsible for balancing happiness and mood(25), both of which are crucial for sexual desire.
There are now CBD products available that are infused with essential oils from herbal ingredients, such as CBD containing red ginseng, ginkgo, and maca.
Some individuals believe that combining the said therapeutic benefits of CBD with these natural remedies may bring about the maximum effects to treat low libido.
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Libido
Three types of CBD oil products are available in the market at this time: the full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.
Out of the three, the full-spectrum variety contains all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds naturally available in the cannabis plant. It also includes other minerals, fatty acids, and even the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Combining all of these chemicals is said to result in a phenomenon known as “the entourage effect.” According to a study in 2018, this synergistic effect causes the individual elements of cannabis to be more effective when taken together(26).
There are many cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant that people believe have therapeutic benefits. Hence, when selecting a CBD product, opting for full-spectrum CBD oil is a valid option.
However, it is essential to consult with a physician before deciding to purchase full-spectrum CBD. Some individuals may be allergic to its THC content, so choosing a different type of CBD product may be best.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil is the next type of cannabidiol and is very similar to the full-spectrum variety. It contains all of the compounds found in full-spectrum, except for THC.
CBD in broad-spectrum form is ideal for people that are allergic to THC or simply do not wish to take the chemical compound.
Finally, there are CBD isolates, which are the purest form of cannabidiol in the market. CBD isolate is an option for people that do not tolerate the other components of cannabis and only want to consume plain cannabidiol.
No matter the form of CBD oil, one must consider selecting only top-quality CBD obtained from industrial hemp.
Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing the best CBD products today:
- Be aware of the legalities surrounding CBD use in the area where one plans to purchase and consume it to avoid legal complications.
- CBD oil products derived from non-GMO, organic hemp are considered the best since the hemp plant is known for its high CBD content and minimal THC presence.
- Research about the type of extraction method that was used by a CBD oil manufacturer. One 2018 study indicated that the CO2 CBD extraction approach is considered as safe by the FDA(27).
- Look for the certificate of analysis (COA) of the CBD product, as this is proof of its ingredients labeled in its packaging. A COA also verifies that a third-party lab has tested the product for contaminants that should not be present in CBD.
- Interested buyers should seek advice from a medical professional familiar with CBD use to know which product is best for their needs.
CBD Dosage for Libido
Official guidelines on the proper dosage of CBD for problems concerning libido are yet to be determined. The main reason for having no official guidelines is that the FDA has not approved CBD as a dietary supplement.
However, some individuals suggest that a person’s weight may be taken into consideration when considering the dosage. An intake of small CBD doses of around 12 to 25 mg once a day is suggested to help ease anxiety.
Some people recommend starting at a low dose and then slowly increasing this until the desired effects of CBD are felt.
Large scale testing is necessary for authorities to implement the proper guidelines of CBD dosing, especially for those interested in using it for low libido.
How to Take CBD Oil for Libido
CBD hemp oil is available in the form of CBD edibles, tinctures, and gummies. People may want to consume these products before intercourse for a potentially fulfilling sexual experience.
Some manufacturers sell CBD lube products that are said to enhance sexual pleasure, as it may reduce vaginal dryness.
Another popular way to consume CBD oil is through vaping by way of vape pens, cartridges, or disposables. CBD capsules are also available, which can be taken similar to a dietary supplement.
Lastly, CBD massage oils, by way of lotions and CBD balms, may be useful in stimulating sex drive, while also potentially improving the nerve sensation during sexual intercourse. All of the above are not yet proven treatments, however.
Sexual Desire in Men and Women
Since there is no direct cure for restoring sexual desire in individuals with low libido, perhaps the most effective approach is to know how sexual desire affects both men and women.
Sexual Desire in Men
According to a study in 2012, sexual desire is typically higher in men compared to women(28). The loss of sexual desire may be more common in women, but men can also frequently experience it.
A male person can often experience decreased sex drive when they have consumed copious amounts of alcohol. Sexual performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, certain medical conditions, medications, and stress can lead to reduced sexual desire.
Men may also lose interest in sex because of a lack of emotional connection, repeated sexual rejection, and other health issues.
Sexual Desire in Women
The topic concerning sexual desire among females is more complex and fragile than it is with men. It may have more variables, and many women might be easily turned off based on how they feel.
These feelings are said to be affected by aspects, such as their hormonal levels and what they are currently thinking. Experts also agree that females have lower sexual desire than males(29).
The female sex drive appears to be based on multiple factors involving varying physical, mental, and social combinations. This complexity could mean that there is no single, straightforward solution for treating women with low sexual desire.
Other Potential Causes for Low Libido
The following are some of the possible causes that can lead to decreased sexual desire.
The side effects that come with taking medications can be a reason for low libido. Some of the most common factors include beta-blockers, statins, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants(30).
Changing or stopping the use of a suspected drug may reverse the condition, although this is not guaranteed. Always consult a physician before considering dose adjustments for prescribed medications. Never adjust or stop taking prescriptions on your own.
People suffering from depression may also experience low sex drive. Depression can both be the cause and the consequence of reduced sex drive, which can put individuals in a tough situation.
A study in 2000 revealed that decreased libido disproportionately affected depressed individuals. Researchers also believe that since the two are connected, the treatment of one may improve the other(31).
Depression is a serious condition that always needs diagnosis and supervised treatment by a licensed health professional. There are many established treatment options for depression, and CBD is not yet one of them.
According to the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), chronic illness can be another reason for reduced sexual function(32). They state that chronic pain, vomiting, nausea, appetite loss, and dehydration can leave a person weak, as they will have little energy left for sex.
They also mentioned that shortness of breath due to lung cancer and difficulty in movement caused by Parkinson’s disease could impair one’s sexual health.
Likewise, a person that has Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome may experience flare-ups during intercourse, which can lead to embarrassing moments. This situation can quickly turn into anxiety in the bedroom, causing an individual to avoid sex.
Decreased sexual desire is a condition that affects 32% of women and 15% of men between the ages of 18 and 59 years. One of the most common factors that can cause a person to have low libido has to do with psychology.
Various treatments are already established to help people with low sex drive, including behavioral therapies and even testosterone treatment. However, not all of these therapies including CBD are yet proven to be effective in treating people with low libido. But there is some growing evidence.
One intriguing remedy that has been growing in popularity nowadays is the consumption of CBD or cannabidiol. Several studies show that CBD has the characteristics to benefit men with erectile dysfunction and reduced sex drive.
There are CBD manufacturers that have created products said to help with sexual activities, such as in the form of CBD lubricants, health supplements, tinctures, and edibles. CBD massage oils are also prevalent and are advertised as a means to potentially stimulate one’s sex drive and even enhance sensation during intercourse.
However, the studies mentioned regarding CBD were done on animals.
At this time, there is no direct clinical evidence that shows CBD can benefit people suffering from low libido. Always consult your doctor first to find the root cause of your low libido and then determine the best course of treatment.
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- Rizk PJ, Kohn TP, Pastuszak AW, Khera M. Testosterone therapy improves erectile function and libido in hypogonadal men. Curr Opin Urol. 2017;27(6):511-515. doi:10.1097/MOU.0000000000000442
- Basson R. Testosterone therapy for reduced libido in women. Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2010;1(4):155-164. doi:10.1177/2042018810379588
- Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
- Richter JS, Quenardelle V, Rouyer O, et al. A Systematic Review of the Complex Effects of Cannabinoids on Cerebral and Peripheral Circulation in Animal Models. Front Physiol. 2018;9:622. Published 2018 May 29. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00622
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- Gonzales GF, Córdova A, Vega K, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. 2002;34(6):367-372. doi:10.1046/j.1439-0272.2002.00519.x
- Chung HS, Hwang I, Oh KJ, Lee MN, Park K. The Effect of Korean Red Ginseng on Sexual Function in Premenopausal Women: Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Clinical Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:913158. doi:10.1155/2015/913158
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