Neuroscience of Cannabis & Sex – Part 2

Cannabis and sex

By combining what we know about the contribution of different brain regions in behavior, and the endocannabinoid system upon them, support for the sex-rage propaganda from the 1930s utterly dissolves. Here’s what we know:

  • The endocannabinoid system is one of the most abundantly-expressed systems in the brain. CB1 receptors are found on brain cells in most brain regions.
  • The net effect of THC is to reduce brain activity. However, because of complex networks of brain cells, this may lead to elevated mood states and heightened sensory experiences.
  • Low to moderate doses of THC reduce the activity of brain regions involved in stress and aggression, leading to a calming effect. In cases when the THC dose is too high, it can enhance the communication coming from the brain’s amygdala, a critical region in the fear circuit. This is what contributes to the anxiety and paranoia when you’re “too high”. However, these doses are also generally sedating, so they wouldn’t lead to aggression or “sex-crazed lunacy”.
  • Additional cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (there are over 100!), such as cannabidiol (CBD), act on numerous targets beyond the endocannabinoid system to have anxiety-reducing and other therapeutic benefits.

Beyond dispelling the myths of the last century, how does our current understanding of cannabis’ action in the brain inform how it can be used for a healthy sex life? For one, we now recognize that there’s far more to cannabis than just THC, and there’s an extensive array of targets in the brain and body that the cannabinoids act upon to convey their therapeutic and wellness benefits.

CBD’s ability to activate serotonin receptors, which is the same brain chemical system targeted by the well-known anti-anxiety drugs like Prozac, can reduce anxiety to break down the barriers to an intimate relationship. CBD also weakly activates CB2 receptors (the second endogenous cannabinoid receptor to be discovered), which is associated with increased resiliency to life stress.

THC activation of CB1 receptors increases the brain chemical, dopamine, which is involved reward processing and the feeling of “pleasure”. However, repeated high doses of THC can actually lead to a general reduction in dopamine levels, which could hinder the sexual experience. CBD can be used to combat this negative effect of THC, as well as other adverse effects, by blocking some of THC’s actions at CB1 receptors.

Here are some quick tips for introducing and integrating cannabis in your sex life:

  1. Don’t eat it unless you are aware of the specific dosage of the edible and how you react to it before introducing a partner. When you eat THC, a large portion gets processed by the liver before it ever makes its way to the brain. The problem is, some of this THC gets converted to the metabolite, 11-hydroxy-THC, which has stronger effects on your CB1 receptors than THC does. This leads to a stronger high, which isn’t desirable if you’re trying to share an intimate experience with your partner. If you become too stoned, you’re more likely to focus internally (not to mention, sedated!) as opposed to focusing on the needs of your sexual partner(s).
  2. Consider using multiple products with different cannabinoid compositions. CBD could be a good pre-game tool to help relieve stress and anxiety, and when you’re more relaxed, you’re likely to be more open to your partner and engage fully. Once relaxed, a THC-rich product can help heighten the senses (but don’t overdo it!) and increase pleasure. Orgasm can also be enhanced by elevating brain dopamine levels.
  3. If you’re concerned about sexual dysfunction from cannabis use, stick to balanced THC:CBD or CBD-rich products. A recent study from Stanford University of over 50,000 people found that cannabis users had more sex than non-users, but this didn’t address performance quality or dysfunction issues. So regarding cannabis’ long-term effects on sexual dysfunction, let’s just say, the jury is…hung.

The Future

Universities across the world are ramping up their cannabis research programs, and the amount of federal research dollars going toward medicinal cannabis is also on the rise. Some of this momentum stems from amassing evidence in support of the wide therapeutic spectrum of the plant, particularly for traditionally treatment-resistant disorders such as certain forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and depression.

The remarkable tolerability of CBD and balanced THC:CBD products, especially compared to many of the available pharmaceuticals, promotes further investigation into how we can maximize the plant’s therapeutic potential. This process has shed light, beyond just clinical disorders, on how cannabis can be used to improve wellness in otherwise healthy individuals. If enhanced, more intimate sex falls into that category, then the benefits of the plant can impact us all.

 

 

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Neuroscience of Cannabis & Sex – Part 1

The propaganda

In the 1930’s, stories and images of sex-crazed youth were a staple of anti-marijuana propaganda. Sex and rage were intertwined with cannabis in biggest the newspapers across America. There were countless reports of intense lust brought on by smoking reefer, inevitably resulting in violence and assault.

One anti-cannabis article published by William Randolph Hearst ( who, at the time, owned nearly 30 newspapers reaching over 20 million subscribers) read, “… a sex-mad degenerate brutally attacked a young girl… Police officers knew definitely that the man was under the influence of marijuana.”

Today, this statement seems outlandish, but at the time, many believed it plausible that smoking a pure plant could result in “bath salt” like behavior.  The general public was taught to fear marijuana— unaware that it was the same drug as the cannabis plant, which had been used medicinally for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Even to those familiar with the species many names, the science surrounding cannabis was meager. Books published 50-100 years prior were still influencing public thought. One in particular, Hashish and Mental Illness, written by psychiatrist J.J. Moreau in 1845, described cannabis-induced fluctuations of emotions, irresistible impulses, illusions, and hallucinations. If you subscribed to Moreau’s view, a sex-crazed assault seemed completely plausible (note: scientists today remain perplexed by his conclusions. Numerous hypotheses involving mixing other drugs have been proposed and debated to explain these observed symptoms, which are extremely rare or non-existent in cannabis users). As we didn’t know how the effect of cannabis on the brain back then, perhaps it could have made you a sex-crazed lunatic.

The implicit message in the W.R. Hearst’s newspapers was that cannabis lowers inhibitions and promotes the execution of sexual urges through violence. This would seem completely reasonable if you were exposed to Moreau’s teaching (from nearly a century earlier!) in addition to the government-fabricated propaganda. It took an evolved scientific understanding of cannabis to overcome this nonsense.

Emerging from the dark ages

The 1960’s was an important decade for the science of cannabis. In 1964, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary high-inducing cannabinoid, was discovered by Israeli scientists. They still didn’t know how it caused people to get high, but like ethanol in wine, people suddenly knew what was affecting their brain. Could THC cause people to become aggressive and capture “innocent youth victims of a new SEX-CRAZE”, as one propaganda poster reported? It was still unclear. Scientists didn’t know what THC was doing in the brain. Of course, there was no actual evidence that cannabis induced aggression or madness, but to many, that wasn’t sufficient.

Just a few years later, the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic opened and became particularly interested in the interaction between sex and drugs of its patients. Their report exposed cannabis to be a sex-enhancing drug, a position that was confirmed by survey reports on college campuses across the country. None of these reports mentioned elevated levels of aggression or “sex-rage”. But, it took scientists over 25 years before discovering the brain receptor through which THC carries out its effects. After this discovery, it became nearly impossible to take the violence-promoting position.

The discovery of the cannabinoid type I (CB1) receptor along with the identification of the body’s own cannabinoid chemicals (called endogenous cannabinoids) in the early 90’s are what led to the acknowledgement that THC merely modulates a system that’s already in place. This receptor is found throughout the brain and has a general “dampening effect” on brain activity. It has since been determined that this endogenous cannabinoid system, through which THC carries out its euphoric effects, has since been revealed to play important roles in everything from regulating mood to inflammation.

 

Neuroscience-Cannabis-Sex-image.jpg

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How Using Marijuana Could Benefit Your Relationship

So much for the lazy, snacking stoner stereotype.

New research reveals that cannabis use between couples increases might benefit their relationship, in the bedroom and beyond.

“We found robust support for these positive effects within two hours of when couples use marijuana together or in the presence of their partner,” says Maria Testa, a social psychologist at the University of Buffalo and the study’s lead author. “The findings were the same for both the male and female partners.”

What they call “intimacy events” include demonstrations of love, caring and support.

For the study, Testa and her colleagues found 183 married or cohabitating heterosexual couples that had been living together more than six months, with at least one partner who uses cannabis a minimum of twice a week. Participants were between 18 and 30-years-old, and had no history of mental illness or addiction.

During a month-long period, each partner independently reported instances of cannabis use and intimacy events in real time via their smartphones. Researchers limited events attributable to the drugs to a two hour window after the fact, according to previous studies showing that cannabis’ effects diminish after about two or three hours.

A separate paper by Testa using the same sample group also showed a slight increase in conflict following cannabis use, but those effects were marginal compared to the positive events. She hopes results of both reports will help inform medical practitioners with patients who use the drug habitually.

“If you’re a treatment provider it’s going to be difficult to get people to reduce or stop their use entirely because these couples see marijuana as something positive in their relationship,” says Testa. “To ignore that is to make it more difficult for people to change their behavior.”

Testa has extensively studied how alcohol effects romantic relationships, and later expanded her research into cannabis, which has not yet been investigated through this lens. The current study is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and appears in the journal Cannabis.

“I’ve studied alcohol as a predictor of intimate partner aggression for years,” she says. “Because alcohol is related to aggression in general, it’s not surprising to find that aggressive effect in the domain of relationships.”

She thinks there are too many presumptions made about how pot affects relationships.

“We need to know about the effects of marijuana use, instead of merely assuming what those effects may be,” says Testa, also adding, “There is very little research on the immediate consequences of marijuana use and intimacy, so this study fills an important gap in the literature.”

“On a personal note, I have found that when I am under the influence of marijuana I experience more intense orgasmic sensations… not in my genitals but in my mind. The sudden explosion of positive chemicals in my brain can only be described as… absolutely incredible.

Try it!

 

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Happy 4/20 – Everything You Need to Know About Legal Weed in Pennsylvania

prescriptions
Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com
prescription weed
Capjah/Shutterstock.com
growing pot
Photolona/Shutterstock.com

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and a Joint

During the event it was reported that Epstein said “I’m so high I’m on the ceiling. I’m up on the ceiling.”

In late August of 1964, The Beatles started their first official U.S. tour. The group began at Cow Palace in San Francisco and finished at the Paramount Theatre in New York. On August 28-29 The Beatles played at Forest Hills Stadium in New York and were befriended by Bob Dylan. The two parties were introduced by the writer Al Aronowitz at New York’s Delmonico Hotel.

After a brief chat with The Beatles, Bob Dylan asked John, Paul, Ringo, George, and Brian Epstein if they wanted to smoke a joint. Epstein looked apprehensive and said that the band hadn’t tried marijuana for years. Dylan was immediately surprised because he had been under the impression that they smoked weed because of the song I Want to Hold Your Hand. He mistook the lyrics “I can’t hide” with “I get high.”

The Beatles were never one to back down from a new experience and agreed. Lennon took the joint and passed it to Ringo whom he called his “royal taster.” Ringo smoked the entire thing, not knowing the tradition of sharing the joint between people. In response, Dylan rolled a joint for each of The Beatles and they smoked. During the event it was reported that Epstein said “I’m so high I’m on the ceiling. I’m up on the ceiling.” McCartney got more philosophical and asked Mal Evans to write down everything he was saying.

 

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Emma – Dirty Jersey

Like the film character Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going get.”

WARNING: THIS POST IS NSFW.

 

Like the film character Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going get.”

That’s what the online dating app, Tinder is like. You never know what you’re going to get.

I met Emma on Tinder. We matched somehow, and I read her profile.

Emma, 22

Server

University in New Jersey

18 miles away

“Living in this matrix. Weed. Brews. GoodVibes. Strive to make the world a better place, one action at a time. Please don’t ask me my sexuality. Biochemistry and Environmental Science. I don’t support the unethical treatment of animals. Vegan/Cruelty Free. They/Them pronouns. Class comedian 2013 OBHS. Proud cat mom. Open Minded Individual. (OMI) Mountain biking is life. I’m not here for anything serious, but you never know what could happen. Not your babe. Everything is fine.”

(Then just a bunch of emoji’s)

So this profile looks like your average college nerd type. Well written and to the point. She has a few pictures. She’s cute and in shape. Seems like she has a nice personality and is intelligent. There’s also a picture of an upper arm. (I’m assuming it’s hers) There’s a tattoo with following statement: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”

That’s some badass shit right there. I don’t like tattoos, especially on women, but I like that message. She seems like a cool, together chick.

There’s a pic of her in the woods and one more of her cute cat.

I hadn’t realized we’d matched because I’m just busy with my life and not always looking at my phone. She reaches out to me first. Prepare yourself. This is the exchange, word for word.

 

“You like eating pussy?”

(She opened with that. WTF? Who does that? But I figure I’ll go along with this just for the comedic element and the irony of this statement from this coed)

“I love eating pussy.”

“Wanna come eat mine? I’ll let you smoke my weed.”

“I’d love that.”

“Right now? No kissing or fucking or blow jobs. Just you eating me?”

(How adorable and crazy.)

“Not really into weed anymore. I’ll eat you just for the sheer joy of it. That’s perfectly fine.”

“Can you role play as my daddy? I’ll be your good little girl. You’re showing me how a man should eat pussy.”

(Alright. We’re getting into some interesting territory here. Somebody’s got some issues. I’m riding this out for the blog.)

“I’d be happy to do that for you, Emma. I would be respectful to you and do what you wanted. I like that is all you want. Let’s set it up.”

“I wanna come.”

“I can make that happen. May I have your number?”

“Now?”

May I have your number?”

“If you’re coming tonight.”

“Ok.”

“Are you?”

(I think this chick is just messing with me.)

“Let’s exchange numbers and tell me where to meet you so we can do this.”

“Would you daddy/daughter role play with me?”

“Absolutely.”

“Hmmm… Do I have to blow you or fuck you?”

“No. Absolutely not. I just do the thing you asked me to do. That’s all. Nothing more.”

(Working for the close here…)

“Come over.”

“Let’s exchange numbers.”

“Come over. Please.”

“Tell me where you want to meet.”

At this point she provided her address.

“What’s your number, dear?”

She then provides her phone number.

(Got her!)

I text her and told her I had some stuff to do this weekend, but after that I could do what she asked me to do. So we’ll have to see what happens. Maybe it’ll happen this week. It was kind of a hot exchange. That kind of frank sexual banter hasn’t happened to me before on Tinder. Kinda crazy.

Maybe she was just having a bit of fun, but then why would she give me her phone number and address?

I’ll have to see what happens. She may just lose interest and disappear. I mean, she lives over in Jersey. I hate going to New Jersey.

 

 

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