Each of us likes to be in the middle of all events. “Catch the wave” of the newest novelties, hypes, and innovations for us means to stay alive and live in the same rhythm with the world. An average person spends from two to nine hours surfing the Internet, and it’s not a surprise we are often up to date with all the latest developments. Internet, work, weekends with friends, small talk with neighbours — all this provides us with the information.
With such informatization of modern humanity, it is quite hard today to find someone who doesn’t know what CBD is and for what it is used for. CBD popularity is a highly controversial question today. Some people don’t take it seriously and think it is another hype, while others are already used to CBD’s role in their lives. Pain relief, various diseases treatment, relaxing, improving sleep, and sex life — these are only a few of CBD benefits that have made them so popular nowadays. To adequately evaluate all the pros and cons of cannabidiol, let’s take an in-depth look at what CBD is and what it the mechanism of its action on our organism.
CBD and THC. Are they on the same team or not?
The legal use of cannabis products grows all over the world, and consumers are becoming more curious about their options. The leading players of the worldwide “marijuana game” are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Though both THC and CBD are components extracted from the same plant — cannabis, their action, and way of use differ dramatically.
CBD can be extracted from hemp or marijuana. The main difference between hemp and marijuana is THC content. Hemp plants are the cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC in their structure, while marijuana plants contain noticeably higher THC amounts. THC is a psychoactive marijuana compound that provides us with this unique “high” sensation. Both THC and CBD are available in the form of:
Though these components have a very different effect on our organism, both of them influence the endocannabinoid system in the human body, which is “responsible” for the regulation of different functions and processes. Among them are:
The endocannabinoid system is active even when we don’t use cannabis.
Despite the fact that CBD and THC have absolutely the same chemical structure (21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms), a slight difference in how these atoms are arranged makes their effects on our organism absolutely different. The main difference between these cannabinoids is the psychoactive effect or in simple words — the “high feeling.”
THC binds with the CB1 (cannabinoid 1) receptors in our brain. This bond produces a sense of euphoria or “a high” as we used to call it.
In its turn, CBD barely binds to CB1 receptors (or even not at all). It can also dampen the psychoactive effects by interfering with the THC binding.
Such interaction with cannabinoid receptors affects the release of neurotransmitters in our brain. These chemicals play a key role in relaying messages between cells and influence on the pain feeling, immune function, stress, and sleep.
To understand better what are the medical benefits of CBD and THC and in which cases each of these cannabinoids may be helpful, let’s jump into the next paragraph.
CBD in our life. Why so popular?
The first question related to CBD and THC is whether it’s hype, placebo, or the new medication of the 21st century. Looking at the situation from the sceptical point of view, we can find enough proof that all the curative effect of the cannabinoids use is just a placebo effect due to the lack of scientific researches. Although, if we break up the mechanism of the CBD action, the effects from its use don’t seem like a miracle, but as an absolutely logical result of physiological processes in our organism.
Let’s turn on our internal physician (let’s face it, we all have one thanks to House, M.D.series) and dive into the work of our endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system or ECS is a complex cell-signaling system that regulates a range of processes, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and memory. The ECS involves three main components:
Endocannabinoids are molecules similar to cannabinoids but are produced naturally by our bodies. For today, there are two key endocannabinoids:
- anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG).
Both of them help to maintain our internal functions to run smoothly.
Endocannabinoid receptors are located throughout the human body. Endocannabinoids bind to them to signalize that the ECS needs to take action. All the endocannabinoid receptors can be divided into two groups:
- CB1 receptors (located in the CNS- our central nervous system);
- CB2 receptors (located in the PNS- our peripheral nervous system).
For example, endocannabinoids might target CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve for pain relief. At the same time, others might bind to CB2 receptors in our immune cells, signaling that our body is experiencing inflammation.
Endocannabinoid enzymes are “the killers.” They are responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoids when they have carried out their functions. There are also two types of such enzymes:
- fatty acid amide hydrolase (breaks down AEA endocannabinoids);
- monoacylglycerol acid lipase (breaks down 2-AG endocannabinoids).
Ok, now we have an idea how this complex system works, let’s try to puzzle out what is the role of THC and CBD in it.
When we consume THC, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system by binding to its CB1 and CB2 receptors. Such bind allows it to cause a wide range of effects of our body or mind, and not all of them are desirable. On one hand, THC can help to relieve pain and stimulate the appetite, but on the other hand, it can cause anxiety and paranoia. To date, researchers are working on ways to produce synthetic THC that will interact with ECS only in a beneficial way.
Unlike THC, CBD typically doesn’t cause any adverse effects and doesn’t make us “high.” The way CBD interacts with our ECS is a mystery. Some of the experts think that the CBD’s effects are based on preventing endocannabinoids by being broken down, while others believe that CBD binds to a receptor that is still undiscovered. The one thing that is known for sure is that CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors the way THC does.
Now it’s time to talk about CBD and THC help in different conditions and to understand why they are so popular today.
CBD can be used to help with:
- mental disorders;
- psychosis disorders.
THC can be used in case of:
- muscle spasticity;
- low appetite;
The medical benefits of these cannabinoids are impressive, although, as each medication, both THC and CBD have side effects that have to be taken into account before use.
Anxiety, depression, sleep, and pain are among the TOP cases when the CBD can help. How does it work? Let’s consider each case separately.
Anxiety and CBD. Roots of the problem.
Awareness of the problem is half of its solution. Regarding anxiety treatment, the first step is to understand what exactly it is. Physiologists define anxiety as a particular emotional state that is characterized by worrying thoughts, feeling of permanent tension, and physical changes such as increased blood pressure. Anxiety is a natural response of the human body to danger. This response is based on three main components:
The formula seems extremely simple — no uncomfortable feelings, no negative thoughts, and no dysfunctional behaviour mean no anxiety. Unfortunately, the solution to the anxiety problem is far from simple. According to statistics, about forty million people in the US suffer from some form of anxiety, and it is even without people that are prone to it.
Anxiety can manifest in many forms, although all of its symptoms fall into one of the three broad categories mentioned above — thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.
- Rumination and worrying. For people suffering from anxiety, it is common to worry a lot. For them, there is a permanent urge to think things through and replay events in mind, again and again, to find out how their surrounding perceives them. The problem is that these people are going over the negative thoughts over and over without solving the problem. Such thoughts, together with anxious feelings, result in the feedback loop — negative thoughts lead to unpleasant feelings, which in turn eventually lead to more and more worries.
- Negative self-talk. Every one of us talks to ourselves. The thing is how we do this. Anxiety can quickly turn this self-talk into self-doubt or self-criticism. The self-talk is usual — we are surrounded by it and in many cases, don’t even notice it. But, the problem is that self-talk affects not only our head but our real-world behaviour too. The voices of inner criticism become louder each time when the person decides to try something new or to make an important decision. As a result — blow to the self-esteem every time the person gives in.
- Panic attacks. A panic attack is a particular type of anxiety triggering intense physical sensations, as a rule, without an apparent reason. The main problem of these changes in body and mind is that people experience them as dangerous. Such attacks are not dangerous at all — it is just an overreaction of the nervous system. All this makes a vicious circle — people start to associate specific changes in the body, such as increased heartbeat, with a panic attack, and develop a fear of these feelings believing they are the signs of another coming panic attack.
- Perfectionism. The permanent obsessive desire to be perfect and do something better than all others eventually transform into anxiety-related perfectionism. In its turn, such perfectionism can not only get in the way of being happy and successful but also causes such issues, such as prioritizing the wrong tasks, permanently becoming frustrated with ourselves, and ignoring the things that matter.
These examples, together with the fear of criticism, procrastination, and avoiding anything that may cause anxiety lies in the root of one big problem of anxiety. What about CBD? Can it help to overcome anxiety problems?
According to the cross-sectional study held in 2018, an anxiety problem occupies one of the top three reasons for CBD consuming. Among the two other positions are pain and depression. The main “trump card” of CBD for anxiety treatment is its ability to help our body process serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter and is known as the hormone of happiness. This neurotransmitter is that small guy that is responsible for our emotions, namely for our feeling of joy and serenity. The process of CBD interaction with our body is similar to the work of a class of anxiety medications — serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). As well as SSRIs, CBD target a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain, thereby helping to boost your mood.
In simple words, CBD acts as an activator of the 5-HT1A receptor, providing us with the following positive effects on our body and mind:
- anxiety decreasing;
- aggression decreasing;
- prosocial effect;
- impulsivity decreasing;
- painkilling effect.
CBD oil for pain relief. Does it work or not?
Together with the anxiety treatment, the ability to pain relief is one of the top CBD oil benefits. To puzzle out how the cannabinoids can relieve pain, including even its chronic type, we should look at the problem from the inside and understand the nature of pain in our organism. Why do we feel pain? Physiologically, pain sensation is the communication between our nerves, spinal cord, and brain. Depending on the underlying cause, there are different types of pain that people can feel. There are four types of pain, and the main difficulty in describing the type you feel now lies in the scientifically proven fact that we can experience more than one type of pain at a time.
Type 1 — Acute pain. This pain comes on suddenly, is short-term, and usually has a specific cause (for example, tissue injury). Acute pain, as a rule, lasts less than half a year and goes away when its main reason is treated. Among common reasons for acute pain are:
- dental work;
- broken bones;
Type 2 — Chronic pain. Any pain that lasts more than half a year and doesn’t go away even if the main reason for it was healed refers to the chronic type. This type of pain may last for years, and its intensity may change from mild to severe from one day to another. According to statistical data, chronic pain affects more than 50 million adults in the United States. Chronic pain may be caused by past injuries, as well as occur without any apparent cause. Without proper treatment, chronic pain will significantly impact your daily life, and in some cases, even become a reason for the development of anxiety and depression. Among the main symptoms of this pain are lack of energy, limited mobility, and tense muscles. Common examples of chronic pain include:
- arthritis pain;
- nerve damage pain;
- low back pain;
- frequent headaches.
Type 3 — Nociceptive pain. Nociceptors are the pain receptors for tissue injury found in our skin and internal organs. When the receptors are stimulated by any injury, such as a cut, they immediately send electrical signals to our brain, and we feel pain. Nociceptive pain is considered as the most common pain type. This pain usually occurs in case of any injury or inflammation. In turn, nociceptive pain can be acute or chronic. Also, it is classified as visceral (injuries or damage of the internal organs) or somatic (tissue injuries).
Type 4 — Neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is a result of the damage or dysfunction of our nervous system. The result of this pain leads to damaged nerves misfiring the pain signals to our brain. Neuropathic pain seems to occur without any reason. We can also feel this pain in response to things that are usually not painful, such as cold air against our skin. Among the possible reasons for the neuropathic pain are:
- chronic alcohol consumption;
- chemotherapy drugs;
What about CBD products for pain relief? Although very few scientific studies were held, the pool of anecdotal evidence of CBD’s curative effect for pain relief is continually growing. Several studies have shown that cannabidiol may have an anti-inflammatory property that explains its effects as pain relief usually has a relation to the inflammation. Also, according to some human trials, CBD alleviates neuropathic pain and manages cancer pain, especially in combination with THC.
The interesting thing is that CBD oil may also give a considerable placebo effect, that is also an authentic response. The placebo effect is also a positive result as it can provide people with about thirty percent relief. The main problem of it is that a placebo doesn’t last very long. You can feel relief for hours or even days, but chronic pain can last a lifetime.
The recent study held by the American Society of Anesthesiologists has shown impressive results. According to the survey, 75% of respondents who decided to use cannabinoids for pain relief, claimed that these compounds had fewer adverse effects and were safer than opioids and other prescription meds. In addition to this, it was established that age plays a decisive role in choosing between marijuana and opioids. For example, millennials were most likely to choose cannabinoids. Three-quarters of all surveyed millennials claimed they would consider hemp or CBD (THC) use to relieve pain.
CBD & sex. Different problems, one result?
Finally, we have reached the main topic of our article — how can CBD improve sex? Two problems described in detail above, in most cases, lead to one result — sex problems. Whether we suffer from anxiety and depression or maybe pain haunts us, all this irrevocably leads to problems in the bedroom. And here CBD enters the game. Recent researches revealed such CBD oil benefits as:
- decreased inflammation;
- improved gut health;
- enhanced sleep;
- calmed nerves.
Also, beyond medical purposes, CBD can be used to overcome intimacy problems and give your sex a boost. Cannabidiol can enhance sensation, as well as reduce pain during penetration and alleviate inhibition during sex. With its ability to help you relax and save you from anxiety or depression, CBD can easily become a substitute for the alcohol or other methods used to get the same result. Nevertheless, in the case of CBD balm, lube, gummies, or other product use, you will not suffer from fuzzy memories and hangover the next morning. Moreover, as CBD also can help with insomnia, you will sleep like a child after sex.
There are six ways CBD can help to improve sex and fill your intimate life with the new colours.
- CBD vape oil for improving desire. Actually, not only CBD vape can enhance desire and work like an aphrodisiac, CBD tablets, lubes, and edibles will also lead you to the desired result. Magic or physiology? How does cannabidiol work to improve sex? No secret actions, the CBD mechanism is more than evident. Both CBD and THC are aimed at dilating our blood vessels, thereby allowing the fresh oxygenated blood to flow more easily. In its turn, fresh oxygenated blood is associated with increased stimulation and arousal.
- CBD for decreasing anxiety. As it was mentioned above, reducing stress and pain relief are the main CBD benefits. Working with the receptors of our ECS, CBD improves our mental state, helps to relax and elate. As a result, feeling of calm and relaxation translate into enhanced sexual pleasure.
- CBD products for relieving pain. Of course, we couldn’t skip the topic of pain having discussed it so extensively. The CBD’s ability to relieve pain can also have benefits in the bedroom. CBD balm or CBD lube can be useful as the pain treatment for women experiencing pain during sexual intercourse because of the irritation or vagina dryness. The anti-inflammatory CBD effect can make you forget about the painful feelings during intercourse and boost the sex drive.
- CBD oil for relaxing. One of the main benefits of CBD oil for sex is targeted topical relief. Essential oils, in combination with full-spectrum cannabinoids, reduce muscle tension and create a soothing sensation helping you to concentrate on feelings fully.
- CBD lube for enhancing foreplay. Due to its ability to improve blood flow to the genitals and repair tissue damage, CBD lube enhances foreplay and climax. In combination with THC, CBD lube can also improve sex drive.
- Strengthen sensations. The cannabinoid receptors “responsible” for libido and the ability to achieve orgasms are found in the female reproductive tract. Binding with these receptors, CBD products help to enhance day-to-day pleasures and improve the inability to achieve orgasms.
CBD for Erectile dysfunction treatment — Myth or Reality?
Another way to use CBD for sex is to take it for erectile dysfunction treatment. Erectile dysfunction or ED is a terrible nightmare for men of all ages and nationalities. More than 30 million American men are suffering from this problem today. Although men of all ages can undergo this disease, certain groups may be at a higher risk. Among them are people older than fifty, overweight or with heart disease. The roots of ED may be psychological, physiological, or both. The main hope for men with erectile dysfunction has always been either psychotherapy or prescription medications. Nevertheless, today, in this list, we can also add CBD oil.
The primary way of CBD action, in this case, is influencing the psychological symptoms of the disease. According to the researches held, managing these symptoms has more chances for success than the physiological ones. With an excellent ability to decrease anxiety, CBD may help men with ED, which roots have a psychological origin. Susan A. Stoner, a licensed clinical psychologist, confirmed in her scientific review that low doses of cannabis might reduce anxiety, thereby having a potential benefit for the ED treatment. Also, the short-term CBD benefits could become an ideal choice for men who do not want to take medications regularly but would prefer to treat ED situationally.
Besides this, CBD may be useful for erectile dysfunction treatment due to its ability to treat obesity. With an appetite-suppressing effect, cannabidiol has all chances to treat obesity-related side-effects, including ED.
Adult movies show us sex as an act of extreme pleasure. However, in reality it isn’t always like that. According to statistics, less than thirty percent of women experience orgasm during intercourse, while around five percent of men experience erectile dysfunction problems today. People are on the permanent search for remedies to tackle the bedroom issues. For many of them, CBD has already become a way out of this problem.
Regardless if CBD is only a placebo or a full-fledged medication, numerous surveys show that it helps. The lack of scientifically proven researches prevents it from becoming the officially recognized remedy for pain during sex, anxiety, and depression that don’t let us relax and get the maximal pleasure. Although, while there are people who use it and confirm the CBD benefits, this industry will grow more and more each day, gradually replenishing with new researches, studies, and recognitions. With all the CBD oil side effects, it is already on the one row with the powerful FDA-approved medications. What next? We’ll see.
Verified by a Healthcare Professional
Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.
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