Commonly referred to as ED, erectile dysfunction affects 30 million American men of all ages. The causes of erectile dysfunction may be physiological, psychological, or a combination of both. Certain men may be at greater risk of developing erectile dysfunction, such as those who are older than 50, are overweight, or have heart disease.
For these men, there is hope in the form of prescription medications or psychotherapy, depending on the root cause. Weedmaps News recently reported that cannabidiol (CBD) may enhance sex, making it more satisfying and less painful for both partners. Could CBD oil, specifically CBD-rich cannabis oil, which retains other cannabinoids and terpenes, offer similar benefits for men with ED?
A greater amount of research exists for managing the psychological symptoms of erectile dysfunction than the physiological ones. In particular, CBD oil has shown to be effective in decreasing anxiety in a number of studies. While most studies utilized CBD oil that was either broad-spectrum or full-spectrum, CBD isolates (products that lack THC and other compounds), may also provide beneficial effects. Because CBD is such a significant part of the cannabis plant, cannabis itself could play an important role in alleviating ED.
Performance anxiety may be a factor for men whose ED has a psychological origin. Susan A. Stoner's 2017 scientific review for the University of Washington discussed how cannabis in small amounts lowered anxiety. Stoner, a licensed clinical psychologist who is a research consultant for the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, noted that higher amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) had the opposite effect and increased anxiety, while CBD provided more consistency. This is a prime example of successfully using CBD-rich cannabis oil as opposed to THC-rich cannabis oil.
Similarly, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that cannabis lowered anxiety levels, stress, and depression in the short-term. The potential benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids could be ideal for men who do not want to take medications long term but would prefer to treat their ED situationally.
Obesity is one physical cause of erectile dysfunction that CBD could potentially treat, although CBD on its own was nowhere near as effective as CBD paired with tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) in the supporting study. In 2012, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph published an article titled, “Cannabis Could Be Used to Treat Obesity-Related Diseases.” Science correspondent Richard Gray wrote about the revealing study conducted by GW Pharmaceuticals: “When the scientists examined two compounds, called THCV and cannabidiol, they were found to have an appetite-suppressing effect.”
The CBD/THCV combination could indirectly help men with ED by decreasing appetite and, potentially, contributing to weight loss. Based on this evidence, a broad-spectrum product which contains both of these beneficial cannabinoids could be useful. Cannabis product labels should list which cannabinoids are included and in what concentrations. Only lab-verified products are guaranteed to be pure.
Cannabis use has repeatedly been linked to lower body mass index (BMI), rates of diabetes, and other metabolic diseases. Because CBD is either the primary or secondary ingredient in most varieties of whole-plant cannabis, it could play a very important role in managing BMI, which would support healthy sexual function for men. The specific role of CBD in these conditions is still being investigated.
What the experts say
From the perspective of treating ED-related anxiety, CBD-rich oil may be helpful, according to some experts.
Diana Urman, a certified sex educator with a practice in San Francisco, believes that CBD can help reduce sexual anxiety. In a 2018 interview with HuffPost, Urman said, “Many people say they feel more spontaneous and adventurous [after using CBD]...There is also sometimes an increased sensitivity to touch and increased willingness to be more engaged and sensual which, in turn, enhances sexual pleasure and deepens orgasmic abilities.”
While the results are not guaranteed, CBD-rich oil may be worth trying for men who want to be less inhibited in bed and treat their ED without the side effects of prescription medications. As Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer at HelloMD, said in a Men's Journal article in 2016, “The way I see it, why not try cannabis? There are side effects to Viagra and zero side effects to cannabis when dosed properly. Maybe it's just making them feel better and relaxed, and that's making it easier for them to enjoy sex, but it's still working.”
However, moderation is key, as some research has indicated that too much cannabis can actually cause ED, even while it increases sexual desire.
While the role of cannabis and CBD in erectile dysfunction is not clear, it's possible that these interventions, alongside other healthful lifestyle choices, could affect ED by improving mood and metabolic function.