Marijuana: Does Marijuana Affects Testosterone Levels?
It is most probable that you live in a country where marijuana is illegal. In case you live in a place that has no restrictions on marijuana, and you are a frequent smoker of weed then chances are you must have heard a lot of rumors about it.
Apart from the ones that talk about sanity and getting hold of your life, there are rumors out there that swear marijuana would negatively affect your testosterone. Some go on to claim that smoking weed will cause gynecomastia (popularly known as "man boobs") and destroys your libido, making you find it hard to get erections.
Before we go deep into it, there are things to be understood at first. Marijuana is an herb that is used in ayurvedic medicines, and it has therapeutic qualities if used properly. However, the reason why marijuana is illegal in most countries is that it is a cause of addiction and it can damage the brain and mind if used excessively.
THC and testosterone
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the 113 chemical compounds found only in the plant genus cannabis (which includes marijuana).
According to the study titled Endocrine effects of marijuana in the male, marijuana affects a variety of hormones that are regulated by hypothalamic function, and it appears that the psychoactive ingredient, THC, is the major compound responsible for this action. In the clinical study, it was found that chronic exposure of laboratory animals, such as rats, mice, and monkeys to marijuana and the various cannabinoids in marijuana altered the function of several of the accessory reproductive organs. Plus, it was also found that testosterone levels of the test animals were lowered after the treatment of marijuana.
Nonetheless, the researchers claim that many of the effects on the endocrine system caused by chronic treatment of animals with THC are completely reversible with time and therefore the low level of testosterone is not permanent.
Marijuana and estrogen
- The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics published a study which tested several common cannabinoids. Of which only cannabidiol showed any estrogen receptor binding. Moreover, this was evident only at very high concentrations of cannabidiol. Cannabis extract in large doses exhibited neither estrogenic nor antiestrogenic effects in the study. As a result, the researches concluded that although estrogen receptor binding activity was observed in crude marijuana extract, marijuana smoke condensate and several known components of cannabis, the direct estrogenic activity of cannabis extract could not be demonstrated inside a living organism.
- Meanwhile, another study which was published in 'Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology' tried to determine the estrogenic effects of marijuana smoke condensate (MSC) and cannabinoid compounds. Their results suggest that marijuana abuse is considered a factor of endocrine disruption. Also, these results suggest that the phenolic compounds contained in marijuana smoke condensate play a role in its estrogenic effect.
It is worth noting that no human studies were conducted to confirm the claim that smoking weed creates man-boobs. However, the above studies indicate that there is a slight possibility of estrogenic activity due to weed smoking.
Does smoking weed decrease testosterone?
To answer that question we have to consider the following scientific studies.
- A study that investigated the effect of chronic uptake of bhang, prepared from the cannabis sativa, on male reproductive physiology in adult male mice, administered adult male mice with bhang orally for thirty-six consecutive days. The results showed that there was a significant decline in circulating testosterone levels. The study comes to a conclusion that bhang may impair fertility in male mice through alteration in the testicular endocannabinoid system and that chronic bhang exposure in humans would be predicted to alter male fertility.
- A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine studied twenty heterosexual men 18 to 28 years of age who used marijuana at least four days a week for a minimum of six months without the use of other drugs. Six men showed oligospermia (deficiency of sperm cells in the semen), and two men were impotent. The study suggests that chronic intensive use of marijuana may produce alterations in male reproductive physiology through hypothalamic or pituitary action.
- Journal of Psychoactive Drugs published a study titled Effects of Regular Marijuana Use on Sexual Performance which claimed that testosterone levels were significantly decreased after regular use of marijuana for six months by the subjects. Additionally, 35% of the subjects were noted to have lower sperm count during the study.
Recovery of testosterone levels after marijuana use
Most of the studies above noted that the testosterone levels of the subjects were recovered to normal after ending the exposure of marijuana. This indicates that the damages caused to testosterone levels are not permanent.
- Journal of Theoretical Biology published a study suggests a minimum of 24 hours for testosterone to return to pre-smoking levels.
- The study titled Plasma Testosterone Levels before, during and after Chronic Marihuana Smoking measured plasma testosterone daily before, during, and after a 21-day period of marijuana use of 27 men of 21 to 26 years of age. Unlike previously mentioned studies, this study observed no statistically significant changes in plasma testosterone levels during and after the smoking period as compared with the pre-smoking base-line levels.
- Another study which investigated the possible effects of chronic marijuana use on reproductive and stress hormones concluded that chronic marijuana use showed no significant effect on hormone concentrations in either men or women.
As you have guessed already, there aren't any definite answers to our concerns. While some studies claim that smoking weed may lower testosterone levels, others say that it doesn't have any significant effects. Plus, the negative impact isn't permanent as well.
Nevertheless, one thing to keep in mind is that it is best to avoid marijuana if it is keeping you lazy and unproductive. Being physically active maintains good testosterone levels. Your testosterone level will fall if you hang around smoking weed doing nothing.