Making the Right Choice: Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Your Hormone Levels?

Making the Right Choice: Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Your Hormone Levels?

People consume their cannabis in many ways, and they have been doing so for eons. For ages, they have enjoyed its multiple recreational and medical benefits. But, cannabis has only recently come under serious research and scrutiny.

Cannabis remains under an unjustified stigma, a cloud that keeps universities from doing the extensive, comprehensive, and long-term studies necessary to debunk some myths attached to cannabis. Central to those misconceptions is whether cannabis consumption affects your hormone levels.

Fortunately, Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam would make discoveries and define the direction of future research in the 1960s from the Hebrew University. U.S. News says, Israel “has become an international leader in cannabis research, partly fueled by the world’s highest percentage of financial resources devoted to research.”

The fundamental research helps you make the right choice

Dr. Mechoulam and colleagues—Lumír Ondřej Hanuš, William Devane, Shimon Ben-Shabat, and others—made major and lasting discoveries making Israel the go-to research center for interested scholars and investors.

Summarizing their work is a challenge; hopefully, this will help readers. Mechoulam and his team would synthesize the cannabis plant’s chemistry for the first time. This allowed them to identify the psychoactive component, a cannabinoid labeled THC (△9-Tetrahydrocannabinol or C₂₁H₃₀O₂,). Perhaps more important, they would find that THC integrates and exchanges signals with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). And, the configuration of THC confirms the calming counteraction of CBD (cannabidiol or C21H30O2).

Much later, he determined how cannabinoids match over to the human’s largest receptor system, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS spreads intricately through the brain and body functioning with all organs and glands.

He later identified anandamide, the “bliss” molecule. It’s a naturally-produced endocannabinoid functioning like the THC cannabinoid. The THC binds with the brain’s CB1 and CB2 neuroreceptors to reduce the natural absorption of anandamide keeping the bliss around to enjoy at various levels of euphoria.

With the tools inherited from Mechoulam’s research, things get clearer. For instance, different strains of cannabis have different effects on brain and body reflecting the ratio of THC and CBD. For another, different effects follow different consumption methods. And, finally, effects vary greatly with individuals’ metabolism, body type, weight, gender, and more.

Understanding the hormone

The question here is how cannabinoids affect hormone levels, and the answer depends on the mechanics of action. It helps to understand the hormone system is part of the ECS centered in the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands but controlled by the pituitary gland and the brain’s hypothalamus.

Hormones develop bones and muscle, support brain health, and initiate other functions. When the flow of hormones is out of whack, it results in conditions like diabetes and thyroid problems. But, when the pituitary and hypothalamus are working well, they form the HPG axis (hypothyroid-pituitary-gonadotropin axis) responsible for releasing GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone). The process triggers production of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, androgen, and testosterone. These originate in the gonads and are present in both sexes in different proportions.

The cannabinoids from cannabis mimic endocannabinoids. They modulate, change, or reduce the transmission of nervous system messages, including those to and from the endocrine system managing the production and deployment of hormones. Now, both ovaries and testes hold large numbers of cannabinoid receptors. So, there’s every reason to believe cannabinoids can affect male and female sexual performance and fertility.

Regular-to-heavy use of cannabis may:

  • Delay puberty and growth in pre-teen boys by reducing testosterone.
  • Disrupt menstrual regularity and egg production as a function of estrogen levels.
  • Reduce Prolactin, the key to sexual satisfaction.

Work reported in Neurobiology of Disease notes, “cannabinoid exposure could have profound effects on the function of the reproductive system, lactation, metabolism, and on the endocrine stress axis.”

Beyond this, you will find that serious research on cannabis is often contradictory. People will cherry-pick the research to support almost any position forgetting the laboratory studies use various animals, from toads to monkeys, making the results inconsistent. For example, you can read more here about the rumored connection between cannabis consumption and the testosterone imbalance creating gynecomastia in men in which 50 percent of the tests found a connection while 50 percent did not.

5 things you can do:

  1. Take a look at yourself. Cannabis affects different people differently, so you must start by assessing your personality and health. There’s no reason occasional-to-moderate use of cannabis should affect you negatively.
  2. Center yourself. You must get your head in the right place. Cannabis consumption should be part of a balanced lifestyle. You are losing that center when consumption affects your obligations to work, family, school, or personal goals.
  3. Study cannabis. Cannabis consumption is more enjoyable and effective when you know what you are doing. You must know enough about the cannabis plant and its variants. Good research will explain the interaction of use and brain/body functions. And, it will provide the data you need to make the right choice by analyzing the THC: CBD ratio of cannabis strains.
  4. Follow the seed-to-sale chain. The more you know about how cannabis seeds, grows, and flowers, the more you understand about harvesting, drying, and storage, the more confident you will be in your choices.
  5. Respect the law. You don’t have to like the laws on cannabis sale, possession, and use to understand the thinking behind their legislation. Some legitimate concerns remain about the drug use, and only legitimate research will distinguish between the fact and myth.

Your interest and work should help you understand how cannabis consumption affects hormone levels. It should tell you how your systems metabolize cannabis smoke differently than edibles. It should help you appreciate the options of consumption with tinctures, oils, and capsules.

The study will show you how occasional use affects hormonal systems differently than habitual use does. It opens you to what and how THC influences and how and what CBD levels your anxiety, stress, and pain. If the only thing you walk away with is an understanding that cannabis does affect hormone levels and that balanced consumption makes the most sense, you have learned a lot.

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