Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. L2 Strength & Conditioning Coach.
With the fairly recent rise of CBD products in the sports world, and with WADA now removing CBD fro their prohibited list, let's take a closer look at its (prohibited) source: Cannabis.
In this article we shall cover the folowing points:
- Low T
- Understanding the link
Let's weed out fact from fiction
The connection between marijuana and testosterone is hotly debated in the fitness world.
More and more states are legalizing the plant for both medical and performance-based uses. This leaves many fitness enthusiasts looking for a boost to consider this as a supplement.
However, one topic has circulated for some time that's marijuana and testosterone levels. Some say there's a link, and that smoking or consuming weed could drop your natural T levels.
In this article, we'll break down the facts and science so you can make the right choice for you.
Testosterone is a natural hormone your body needs for many things. It is the key sex hormone in men (but also present in women) that helps drive libido and encourage lean muscle mass among other benefits.
It's also a key for the health of red blood cells and fat distribution throughout the body. For both health and lifestyle purposes, testosterone is very important.
Some also attribute it to being the hormone that gives men their "edge." Men with naturally high T-levels tend to be more confident and go after what they want in life. In fact, there is an association with winning and higher levels of testosterone.
This is one reason many men of all ages seek to increase or boost their natural levels, especially when age related testosterone decline sets in, with some going so far as to take artificial hormones to drive results.
What happens when men have low testosterone
Unfortunately, this hormone starts to naturally decline for most men after the age of 30 to 40 and continues in to the later decades of a man's life.
When men have low testosterone, they:
Are more prone to gaining weight
Have trouble adding lean muscle mass
Are often lethargic and unmotivated
Experience low sex drive or erectile dysfunction
Are more likely to lose bone mass as they age
Are more likely to experience mood swings
Basically, anything you can do to delay the natural loss of testosterone is a good idea for your health and performance.
This is why the marijuana and testosterone discussion is frequently had by older men. They're already doing what they can to boost their T levels and don't want to offset their work.
Marijuana and testosterone
There are some studies out there that have looked at the link between marijuana and hormones.
According it does seem that even chronic use doesn't alter hormonal profiles in either men or women.
Furthermore, another study saw that recent marijuana use was actually linked to increases of serum testosterone.
The speculation circles around what THC does in the body. This compound suppresses hypothalamic expression which can hinder many different processes in the body.
That said, research in to regular THC users noticed a small increase of testosterone.
Testosterone is produced in the gonads, so this does not appear to be much of a concern.
However, a potential issue is that chronic marijuana use has also been linked to decreased weight in the seminal vesicles. This is a part of the male reproductive system that could, at least in theory, lower testosterone although, at present, from what we know, this theory doesn't stack up against the evidence.
Doctors also believe this could be responsible for the lowering of healthy sperm count in men. That's another side-effect that's commonly linked to the psychoactive compounds found in cannabis.
CBD and testosterone
So what is CBD? Its other name is cannabidiol.
It stems from the cannabis plant, but is merely a component (amongst many) of the cannabis plant.
This component doesn't affect the brain and give the 'high' sensation that weed smokers are associated with.
As research thunders on, more and more regions around the world are legalizing CBD products as there appears to be lots of evidence demonstrating that it has many health benefits, but more importantly without any negative side effects.
One particularly area of benefit appears to be treating epilepsy, as such this is attracting further research.
Remember, this component of the cannabis plant doesn't get you stoned, high or have any chemical effect on the brain that could render you incapacitated.
Think of CBD as a alcohol-free cocktail. You get the benefits of the great taste without the negative effect of being drunk, falling over and suffering from a hangover the next day.
That aside, like everything, it may not be 100% safe for everyone and whilst it shows promising benefits, it hasn't been under the spotlight for too long.
Again, as perhaps expected, nothing is clear cut. Especially if you want to find evidence from reputable, clinical sources that involve human studies.
Studies on testosterone appear to be limited, but this piece of literature suggests that CBD has a negative effect on male fertility. Not too surprising given the previous results based on cannabis.
On the flip side, some evidence demonstrates that CBD could help alleviate a poor libido.
Now, you may then like think that if CBD helps with overcoming erectile dysfunction, that it should improve testosterone as they are somewhat related.
However, as ever, this may not always be the case. There simply isn't strong clincial evidence to offer a firm conclusion.
Cannabis science is still developing
In many health and medical circles, cannabis use has been taboo for decades. Whether you're talking about marijuana use and testosterone or another subject, it's likely that the science is still developing.
While there are some studies that link marijuana use and reduced sperm health, the current general consensus is that hormones don't fuly follow this trend, although it must be said nothing is exactly clear cut as this abstract from the Journal of Theoretical Biology surmises.
Whether you read the science or not, it's important to allow the science to develop in this area. As time goes on, doctors and researchers will paint a clearer picture of whether cannabis and testosterone are linked.
*Also be sure to speak to your medical doctor if you think you're dealing with low T. Nothing in this article should be taken as a substitute for medical advice.
What can you do about it?
Maybe you're a pot smoker and a weightlifter, and this news is not as straightforward as you were hoping, or that you don't want to harm your fertility.
As a fitness enthusiast, you want your body to maintain the highest levels of testosterone possible.
So, what should you do?
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to naturally boost your testosterone and fertility.
Weightlifting, particularly the compound exercises such as squats or the bench press are an amazing way to keep T levels high. And your reproductive system will appreciate you following a healthy diet full of essential nutrients that are high in antioxidants it's also a great way to keep fat off your body.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. Men who are overweight generally have lower testosterone, while those at lower body weights with muscle mass tend to maintain their levels over the years.
On top of that, lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep and staying hydrated actually matter a lot.
Sleep is when your body's endocrine system and hormones regulate themselves. It's also free, so if you're looking for ways to capitalize on your natural T levels, this shouldn't be overlooked.
Supplements for testosterone
There are also many natural ingredients for men wanting to boost their testosterone. You definitely don't have to consider taking steroids or SARMs to boost your levels. And some of the supplements you might consider don't even have to be bought at a store.
For example, vitamin D3 has been shown to boost testosterone levels. You can supplement with it or get it from sun exposure for 15 to 30 minutes each day.
Be sure to do your research before buying supplements, particularly online where there appears to be little regulation throughout online marketplaces such as Amazon of Ebay.
Transparency is absolutely essential, as many products are packed with fillers hidden behind proprietary blends and ingredients that aren't scientifically backed or could be banned in sport or the military.
Understand the link between marijuana and testosterone
The link between marijuana and testosterone is, not entirely clear, although with fertility aside, looks like it isn't detrimental to hormone levels.
There's some speculation, perhaps based more on theory than hard evidence that weed lowers testosterone after chronic use. But more recent studies say that, at least for some people, it can boost this important male sex hormone.
Flip the coin though, and the reproductive systems for men doesn't get off so lighty.
The best thing you can do is see how you feel when consuming marijuana. If you notice any of the symptoms of low T, like lethargy or mood swings, you might want to cease or limit your use.
Alternatively, you could order one of our testosterone-boosting products today and reap the benefits of high T levels!