Yes, cannabis and sex. Why would you overlook this area of your life when you contemplate your cannabis use? By now, you know cannabis can help treat countless health issues. From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, nearly every inch of your body can benefit from a little cannabinoid love— but there may be one very important area you’ve overlooked.
In a first-of-its-kind US study published in the Journal for Sexual Medicine, researchers at Stanford University Medical Center set out to assess the relationship between how often people had sex and how often people used cannabis.
Expecting to find less frequent sexual activity amongst cannabis users due to concerns that use may impair sexual desire, researchers were surprised to report that in a four-week period, non-cannabis using women had sex an average of six times—while the cannabis using counterparts reported 7.1 sexual encounters in that same amount of time.1
While Senior Author Michael Eisenberg cautions against the misconception that smoking cannabis will lead to more sex, the study does suggest some very groundbreaking notions.
Frequency of sex gradually and steadily increased alongside frequency of cannabis use, and this dose-dependent relationship suggests that cannabis could play an active role in supporting and possibly treating a myriad of sexual issues.
In the United States today, a whopping 43% of the female population reports struggling with some sort of sexual dysfunction.2 That’s nearly half of
women in the United States missing out on the joy, gratification, and health benefits of regular sexual expression.
“43% of the female population reports struggling with some sort of sexual dysfunction”
The majority of reported sexual dysfunction in women is generally categorized as one of the following: lack of desire, inability to orgasm, problems reaching arousal, and/or pain during sex. Could cannabis provide an answer for relief?
For post-menopausal women and men suffering from sexual dysfunction, cannabis use can be used to increase sensations and experiences. Many doctors are recommending cannabis to aid with difficulty orgasming, or for with low libidos. It could be that using cannabis in small doses may offer relaxation that lowers your anxiety levels, releases tension in your muscles, provides anti-inflammation, and lowers your inhibitions.
Dr. Hervé Damas, Miami, FL holds workshops to educate patients on the products, methods, and strains available to treat common sexual issues. He recognizes cannabis and sex as two topics intimately entwined. So, how does cannabis make sex better?
“Our body’s natural endocannabinoid system is key in regulating things like pleasure, pain, relaxation and homeostasis,” says Damas. “When it is activated by the cannabinoids in cannabis, it can leave users feeling relaxed, with increased pleasure and decreased pain.”
Anecdotal evidence exists in the form of thousands of women enjoying a multitude of new and emerging products designed to add some spice to their bedroom routine. Whether it’s a deeper connection with your partner, heightened sensation, or physical support you need, cannabis can be at your service. The sociology department at the University of California Santa Barbara has stated that while people sometimes feel aroused after consuming cannabis, most of the time they fall somewhere in between.3
There are very few studies using marijuana. “It’s a wonderful tool that nature gave us to connect with our bodies and ourselves and the sensuality of life,” says Dr. Nick Karras, a San Diego sexologist and author of The Passionate High: A Guide to Using Cannabis for Sex and Intimacy.
The cannabis industry’s sex market is growing—according to research from the Global Wellness Institute, the global health and wellness market reached $3.7 trillion in 2016, with expectations in growth projected at 17 percent over the next five years.4 And with the legal cannabis industry booming, medically-infused products with the aim of treating women’s sexual issues have the potential to claim a significant slice of the pie. Already, analysts project Health and Wellness to be a noteworthy growth sector in the US cannabis market.5 You know what that means: more options to help you reach your optimal pleasure experience.
“When it is activated by the cannabinoids in cannabis, it can leave users feeling relaxed, with increased pleasure and decreased pain.”
“Introducing cannabis in the bedroom can lead to increased arousal, making sex even more enjoyable,” says Damas. “For some people who experience increased pleasurable sensations with cannabis, this effect can make sex feel even better.”
An informal poll by Psychology Today showed that 67% of respondents felt cannabis enhanced their sex lives. 20% claimed it depended entirely on the circumstances at the time.6
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Turmeric is a root vegetable commonly used as a spice in various Indian and other cultures’ dishes. Turmeric is in the zingiberaceae family, as is ginger. The turmeric plant is native to the southeastern region of Asia and commonly harvested in places like India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, and Taiwan. It is responsible for curry’s signature orange color, and its vibrant pigment will give essentially any meal an orange hue.
Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin, and curcumin has been shown through research to offer anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic benefits. The scientific name for the turmeric plant is Curcuma Longa, and likely where the name curcumin comes from. When people are talking about the health benefits of turmeric, they are referencing curcumin so you may hear the two names used interchangeably. Curcumin is part of a group called curcuminoids, with curcumin being the most active and the most beneficial for health. Flavonoids are another substance found in various plants and give these plants their color. Curcumin is a flavonoid and is responsible for providing that bright orange color to turmeric. In addition to providing aesthetic value, flavonoids are also strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
The Journal of Biological Chemistry published a study done by Sanjaya Singh and Bharat B. Aggarwal of the Cytokine Research Laboratory at the world-renowned cancer hospital, M.D. Anderson. The study found that curcumin suppressed NF-κB, a protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory responses. In other words, turmeric shuts off the body’s inflammatory response. Anti-inflammatories can be beneficial for many different ailments, including chronic pain and digestive disorders. A lot of CBD companies even put curcumin in their products because of its benefits. It is believed to be a synergistic pair with complementary therapeutic properties. The thought is that the two plant medicines are powerful on their own; as a combination, they can deliver even more anti-inflammatory and medicinal benefits.
Many people simply add turmeric to their dishes as a way to easily incorporate it into their daily routine. It is pretty mild in flavor and can be added to many dishes without changing the overall taste too drastically. Some say that turmeric isn’t strong enough on its own to receive the anti-inflammatory properties that curcumin provides, and therefore recommend a curcumin supplement. Research varies on that, so in the end it is just up to personal preference and your doctor’s approval. Curcumin supplements come most available in capsules. Pregnant women can safely use turmeric as an addition to their food, but should avoid taking high-dosage supplements. Those who are interested in supplementing with curcumin products should talk with their doctor first.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center did another study in 2007 exploring curcumin for cancer treatment. The study found that curcumin inhibits ovarian cancer growth and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels). It does this by targeting and manipulating the NF-κB pathway, the same protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory response. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The nuclear factor NF-κB pathway has long been considered a prototypical proinflammatory signaling pathway, largely based on the role of NF-κB in the expression of proinflammatory genes including cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules.”
The trend with curcumin seems to be it’s ability to control inflammatory responses in the body. It does this by multiple pathways, but a commonly researched one is the NF-κB protein complex. Because this pathway is able to be manipulated by curcumin to encourage anti-inflammatory expressions, its potential for successfully treating various ailments is there.
Psilocybin + Magic Mushrooms
When many think of plant medicine, specifically those plants with psychoactive effects, they think of “magic mushrooms,” or fungi containing psilocybin and psilocin that can cause hallucinations depending on the dosage consumed. In many states, there are active efforts to decriminalize these otherwise scheduled substances, lowering penalties for their use and possession. But what value do psilocybin-containing mushrooms offer? New research suggests a range of therapeutic and psychological value ranging from the treatment of substance abuse to anxiety and depression management.
What are Magic Mushrooms?
Magic Mushroom use dates back to 10,000 BCE and references continue throughout the era. Their modern popularity began when the term “magic mushroom” was coined by two etnomycologists who learned of a Harvard study on local doctors in Mexico using these substances, noting the substance’s ability to affect the nervous system. These findings were eventually published in Life magazine in 1957, and the term became the universal reference for psychoactive fungi and truffles, specifically those containing high concentrations of psilocybin and psilocin.
Psilocybin & Psilocin: The “Magic” in Magic Mushrooms
Psilocybin and psilocin are part of a family of psychedelic compounds found in magic mushrooms. Psilocin is pharmacologically active, and psilocybin is converted into psilocin when consumed or activated. Similar in structure to serotonin, there are more than 50 species of mushrooms and a variety of truffles that produce both the precursor, psilocybin, and the psychoactive compound, psilocin. Unlike LSD, magic mushrooms do not affect dopamine receptors, solely targeting serotonin sites.
How are Magic Mushrooms used?
Magic mushrooms are often used for recreational, therapeutic and medicinal reasons. “Effects range from mild feelings of relaxation, giddiness, euphoria, visual enhancement (seeing colors brighter), visual disturbances (moving surfaces, waves), to delusions, altered perception of real events, images and faces, or real hallucinations.” Recreationally, this is often known as “tripping.” As an alternative health option, these fungi are being used for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and trauma, as well as psychological disorders such as substance abuse disorders, and science is beginning to back the potential for these applications.
Research on Mushrooms
Evaluations of currently available scientific studies suggest a growing number of therapeutic benefits and treatment options. “In the past few years, a growing number of studies using human volunteers have begun to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of drugs such as psilocybin…looking at psilocybin and other hallucinogens to treat a number of otherwise intractable psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug or alcohol dependency.”
Magic mushrooms have been respected as a “safe & natural healing sacrament for millennia throughout Mexico, Central America and the world,” and are known to be beneficial for depression, recidivism (the tendency to repeat past transgressions), and encourages openness, creativity, as well as personal and spiritual growth. UCLA and NYC have done studies on the applications of magic mushrooms in the treatment of end-of-life anxiety and other studies have backed up the use of psilocybin and psilocin in the treatment of substance use disorders, depression (especially in cases of terminal conditions like cancer as well as treatment-resistant depression), and reducing depression and anxiety overall.
Best way for people to consume?
When it comes to the consumption of mushrooms, advice on dosage is about as specific as it was with cannabis under prohibition. Consumers must purchase on the black market and are subject to whatever may be available.
“Recreational doses range from 1–5 grams of dry mushrooms depending on the species and individual strength of the specimens… After ingestion, the psilocybin is enzymatically converted to psilocin. Absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract, hallucinogenic effects usually occur within 30 minutes of ingestion with a duration of effect of 4–6 hours.”
My recommendation as someone who has used magic mushrooms both for recreational and therapeutic purposes, is to grind the mushrooms into a fine powder and either encapsulate them in small increments and/or combine with lemon juice. Capsules will allow you to titrate your dosage as needed with a recognizable increment, while lemon juice will expedite onset time.
The Legality of Magic Mushrooms
In the United States, psilocybin is a Schedule I controlled substance, with no accepted medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. In contrast, the Drug Policy Alliance states that “Physically, psilocybin mushrooms are considered to be one of the least toxic drugs known.” With that being said, local efforts such as Decriminalize Nature – Oakland and Decriminalize Denver have pushed for and successfully passed initiatives and legislation to reduce penalties and make enforcement a low priority, as was done in the early days of cannabis activism. This has spurred multiple local and international efforts to “Decriminalize Nature,” efforts that we learn more about in this month’s feature.
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