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. Columnist Paris Dancy explains why he sought alternative treatment for low testosterone, and what he learned from trying medical cannabis. 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 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.
- Hiller-Sturmhöfel, S., & Bartke, A. (1998). The endocrine system: an overview. Alcohol health and research world, 22(3), 153–164. (1)
- Hillard C. J. (2015). Endocannabinoids and the Endocrine System in Health and Disease. Handbook of experimental pharmacology, 231, 317–339.
- Fantus, R. J., Lokeshwar, S. D., Kohn, T. P., & Ramasamy, R. (2020). The effect of tetrahydrocannabinol on testosterone among men in the United States: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. World journal of urology, 38(12), 3275–3282. (3)
- Jakubovic, A., McGeer, E. G., & McGeer, P. L. (1979). Effects of cannabinoids on testosterone and protein synthesis in rat testis Leydig cells in vitro. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 15(1), 41–50.
- List, A., Nazar, B., Nyquist, S., & Harclerode, J. (1977). The effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on the metabolism of gonadal steroids in the rat. Drug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals, 5(3), 268–272.
- Crippa, J. A., Derenusson, G. N., Ferrari, T. B., Wichert-Ana, L., Duran, F. L., Martin-Santos, R., Simões, M. V., Bhattacharyya, S., Fusar-Poli, P., Atakan, Z., Santos Filho, A., Freitas-Ferrari, M. C., McGuire, P. K., Zuardi, A. W., Busatto, G. F., & Hallak, J. E. (2011). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 25(1), 121–130. (6)
- MInguez-Alarcón, L., Chavarro, J. E., Mendiola, J., Roca, M., Tanrikut, C., Vioque, J., Jørgensen, N., & Torres-Cantero, A. M. (2017). Fatty acid intake in relation to reproductive hormones and testicular volume among young healthy men. Asian journal of andrology, 19(2), 184–190. https://doi.org/10.4103/1008-682X.190323
- Dobovišek, L., Krstanović, F., Borštnar, S., & Debeljak, N. (2020). Cannabinoids and Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer Treatment. Cancers, 12(3), 525.
- Zorzenon, M., Santiago, A. N., Mori, M. A., Piovan, S., Jansen, C. A., Perina Padilha, M. E., Ciotta, S. R., Cezar de Freitas Mathias, P., Guimarães, F. S., Weffort de Oliveira, R. M., Milani, P. G., & Mareze-Costa, C. E. (2019). Cannabidiol improves metabolic dysfunction in middle-aged diabetic rats submitted to chronic cerebral hypoperfusion. Chemico-biological interactions, 312, 108819.
- Penner, E. A., Buettner, H., & Mittleman, M. A. (2013). The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults. The American journal of medicine, 126(7), 583–589.
- Zuardi, A. W., Guimarães, F. S., & Moreira, A. C. (1993). Effect of cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas, 26(2), 213–217.
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.
My Experience Treating Low Testosterone With Cannabis
The potential benefits and risks of cannabis have long been a topic of discussion. There are various stigmas attached to the plant because people have different opinions about it. Is cannabis a drug? Can it be used as an alternative to Western medicine? Is it dangerous? The answers are frequently debated.
In this column, I will focus on my experience treating low testosterone with cannabis as someone who had a pituitary adenoma and battled Cushing’s disease. As a disclaimer, it is not my intention to provide medical advice or recommend cannabis as a treatment. Speak with your doctor and other members of your care team before making any type of medical decision.
Cushing’s by Different Causes May Have Similar Effects on Metabolism
Why I sought alternative treatment
I was diagnosed with hypogonadism, or low testosterone, in 2015. I was prescribed a topical steroid, but had to stop using it due to an allergic reaction. Doctors soon discovered my pituitary adenoma, which we realized was causing my low testosterone. I had transsphenoidal surgery to remove the tumor later that year.
During some testing in 2017, my endocrinologist noticed my testosterone levels were still low. I started on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which required biweekly injections. Although I saw an improvement in my energy levels, focus, strength, and libido, my attitude and aggression were becoming problematic and concerning my loved ones.
After discussing it with my wife, I stopped TRT in 2018 and decided to search for an alternative solution. I had done some research on cannabis and other natural supplements, and presented the idea to my wife.
She was initially hesitant, and rightfully so. I had used marijuana in the past recreationally, but also as a means of self-medicating while struggling with depression and anxiety before my surgery. I didn’t see this as a problem. I thought, “It’s just marijuana. I know how it affects me.”
What I didn’t consider
I didn’t consider several factors when deciding to treat my lingering health issues with medical cannabis.
Firstly, my body had changed following my battle with Cushing’s and my surgery. Weight didn’t come off as fast as it used to, and I had constant aches in my limbs, feet, and neck. I could no longer use a substance or medication without facing consequences. I had noticed this while taking the prescribed topical steroids and TRT.
Secondly, I didn’t fully consider how self-medicating had affected me. During that time, I saw a decline in my productivity, both personally and professionally. And as I discussed in a previous column, self-medicating didn’t allow me to address the root of the issue. It only made things in my life more difficult.
Thirdly, I lacked knowledge about the many types and strains of cannabis, which prevented me from making an informed decision about what type of product I should use.
THC vs. CBD
In selecting cannabis products, one thing consumers must consider is the amount of THC and CBD in them. These are natural active compounds (cannabinoids) found in the cannabis plant.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces a “high” or euphoric feeling. The higher the percentage of THC in a cannabis strain, the stronger the effect.
CBD, or cannabidiol, can be derived from either hemp or marijuana, which are both types of cannabis. In the U.S., hemp is legal and defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3% THC or less. Marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC and is federally illegal, although many states have legalized it, either fully or for medicinal purposes.
CBD does not produce the same “high” as THC, but both cannabinoids may offer medical benefits, such as pain, anxiety, and stress relief.
If you are considering trying medical cannabis, I encourage you to check your state’s laws and speak with your physician.
Why I ultimately chose CBD
After much trial and error, I discovered that the higher the percentage of THC, the more issues I was having. The pain and stiffness in my feet and lower back seemed to worsen. It didn’t matter which strain I used or how I consumed it.
Then, I decided to start trying CBD products with low levels of THC. I also began a new health regimen involving a plant-based diet, intermittent fasting, and exercise. I started taking supplements that research suggests can naturally boost testosterone levels and regulate hormones.
Within a month, I noticed my energy levels increasing, my mood improving, and my stiffness decreasing. Although I was still the same weight, I felt lighter and stronger, and my walks were getting longer. Soon, the aches went away completely.
To this day, I am still curious about the effects of THC on people who have had pituitary adenomas or Cushing’s disease. Given my own experience, I wonder if there is a correlation between THC and worsening symptoms.
While I believe it’s been helpful, I don’t think CBD alone led to the improvements in my health. I believe that the combination of healthier lifestyle choices and CBD has given me the results I desire.
Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.
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.