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.
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.
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, Aug 29). Testosterone — What It Does And Doesn’t Do. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/drugs-and-medications/testosterone–what-it-does-and-doesnt-do.
- MedlinePlus. (2020, Feb 26). Testosterone Levels Test. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/testosterone-levels-test/.
- Habayeb OM, Bell SC, Konje JC. Endogenous cannabinoids: metabolism and their role in reproduction. Life Sci. 2002;70(17):1963–1977. DOI:10.1016/s0024-3205(01)01539-9.
- Hillard CJ. Endocannabinoids and the Endocrine System in Health and Disease. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2015;231:317–339. DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-20825-1_11.
- Dalterio S, Bartke A, Burstein S. Cannabinoids inhibit testosterone secretion by mouse testes in vitro. Science. 1977;196(4297):1472–1473. DOI:10.1126/science.867048.
- Jakubovic A, McGeer EG, McGeer PL. Effects of cannabinoids on testosterone and protein synthesis in rat testis Leydig cells in vitro. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1979;15(1):41–50. DOI:10.1016/0303-7207(79)90069-8.
- Narimatsu S, Watanabe K, Yamamoto I, Yoshimura H. Mechanism for inhibitory effect of cannabidiol on microsomal testosterone oxidation in male rat liver. Drug Metab Dispos. 1988;16(6):880–889.
- APA. Stress Effects on the Body. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress/effects-male-reproductive.
- Crippa JA, Derenusson GN, Ferrari TB, et al. Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. J Psychopharmacol. 2011;25(1):121–130. DOI:10.1177/0269881110379283.
- APA. op. cit.
- Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem. 2009;1(7):1333–1349. DOI:10.4155/fmc.09.93.
- Feghali CA, Wright TM. Cytokines in acute and chronic inflammation. Front Biosci. 1997 Jan 1;2:d12-26. DOI: 10.2741/a171.
- MInguez-Alarcón L, Chavarro JE, Mendiola J, et al. Fatty acid intake in relation to reproductive hormones and testicular volume among young healthy men. Asian J Androl. 2017;19(2):184–190. DOI:10.4103/1008-682X.190323.