Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
You know CBD, the edgy new girl who hit the scene a couple of years ago? Well, she’s still hot and showing up everywhere, from the spa to your local supermarket — and for good reason.
Fans, including health experts, say CBD is a healing balm for inflammation, anxiety, nausea, and insomnia. Some users even claim it boosts libido and lubrication.
But what is CBD, exactly?
Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a chemical compound found in Cannabis sativa (yep, we’re talkin’ “Mary Jane,” “reefer,” “the devil’s lettuce”… marijuana).
One of the other components of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for making you high. CBD alone doesn’t cause a “high,” but it may offer plenty of other benefits.
Here’s what we know about CBD’s power to make sexy times even better.
Before we can dive into how CBD affects your sex drive, here’s how researchers think it affects your body.
In the early ’90s, scientists pinpointed the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which includes tiny receptors that react to cannabis products and even produce their own cannabinoid chemicals known as endocannabinoids.
Those receptors wake up when you slather yourself in CBD oil or pop a CBD edible. As the receptors become engaged, your body responds in a number of ways, such as by reducing inflammation and stopping convulsions. Pretty neat!
A 2009 report revealed that men’s testicles also have ECS receptors. Sexy, right? Maybe not so much. Research is mixed on whether activating the receptors in a man’s junk is actually a good thing.
One 2015 study found that men who use cannabis chronically may experience reduced sex drive. But it also found that both men and women can get a libido boost from infrequent use.
Another 2015 report found that CBD products reduced anxiety. And since anxiety is a common cause of sex probs, CBD could boost libido by boosting confidence.
What’s in it for the ladies?
CBD has the same calming effect on women as it does on men. Likewise, research suggests low doses of marijuana (CBD plus THC) could rev up women’s sex drive and help them respond more easily to erotic cues.
According to a 2015 research review, CBD can help men and women with PTSD, social anxiety, and other similar conditions, but there’s not enough research to confirm a particular dosage. Most studies involved acute oral or inhaled doses rather than chronic use. (More on that in a second.)
Another problem is that existing reports are based on surveys and anecdotes rather than on people getting hot and heavy in a supervised clinic. (Yeah, no thanks.)
It’s tough to say whether CBD truly revs up your sex drive. If you struggle with anxiety about sex or body image, it’ll probably help. If you’re hoping to feel lustier in general, probably not.
Libido is one thing. Sex probs are another. Research is still pending, but several companies make CBD-infused products that may alleviate some sexual concerns.
CBD for ED
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is as varied as a box of chocolates. It can be long-term or short-term. It can happen sometimes or always. It can mean getting hard for just a few minutes or not being able get it up at all. ED is a pretty broad term for the penis probs of about 30 million men in the United States.
The good news is that CBD can help.
A 2014 review of studies noted that Ayurveda practitioners have been successfully recommending cannabis (CBD plus THC) as an ED antidote for years.
We need more research to understand why cannabis helps with ED. Maybe it’s simply because relaxing (remember those anti-anxiety effects?) soothes nerves. CBD could also relax blood vessels and speed up blood flow to the penis.
According to a small 2017 study, a single dose of CBD can reduce blood pressure. The study was focused on blood flow in the heart — not the penis — so more specific studies are needed to confirm this effect.
CBD for low sex drive
Sometimes you’re just not in the mood. But what about when you’re never in the mood? There’s a CBD product for that.
In one 2017 study, cannabis (yep, CBD + THC ) lit up the sexual arousal area of users’ brains, suggesting that marijuana could help revive a low sex drive.
CBD for low lubrication
If having sex feels like sandpaper, you probably already know the joy of lubes. But since CBD has soothing and anti-inflammatory effects, some companies have started producing CBD-infused lubes.
CBD products may help with erectile dysfunction, low libido, and even lack of natural lubrication. But more research is necessary before many doctors will start recommending it.
Just like any other oil or herb, CBD can cause allergic reactions. Some people report standard topical reactions (rash, anybody?), and others say they feel nauseated or sleepy or lose their appetite.
CBD may interact badly with some medications. So if you’re taking any meds, check with your healthcare provider before introducing CBD into your sex life.
The bottom line is that while side effects are possible, they’re usually pretty mild.
PSA for parents-to-be
One of the biggest concerns about cannabis is how it affects fertility. Newer research is needed, but a 2006 review listed several ways marijuana use can reduce your chances of getting pregnant:
- decreased levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which affects the regularity of your period
- decreased sperm development in men
- disrupted menstrual cycles
The review focused on cannabis, which includes THC. It’s tough to tell if these side effects would also occur with CBD use. If you’re thinking about having a baby in the next few years, talk to your healthcare provider before using CBD products.
If you can’t use THC legally or feel a little uneasy about the potential side effects, stick to hemp-derived CBD.
Hemp contains only a tiny amount of THC, so THC contamination in hemp-derived CBD products is pretty unlikely. And though you can’t get high from CBD alone, you could still enjoy the anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory benefits.
But keep in mind that it is possible to test positive for THC when using CBD products.
You could experiment with a new CBD product almost every day and never run out of options. Availability depends on the laws in your state, but there are options for almost everyone!
- Charlotte’s Web Full Strength CBD Oil. Available in mint chocolate or olive oil flavor, this hemp-derived CBD oil claims to reduce stress, improve focus, and support a good night’s sleep.
- Veritas Farms Full Spectrum CBD Tincture. This oil has low CBD content, so it’s a great entry-level oil. It’s also organic and sustainably farmed. Flavors include watermelon, strawberry, peppermint, and citrus.
- Receptra Naturals Pure Hemp CBD Oil. Another great starter oil that’s grown in Colorado, this comes in a fresh berry flavor.
- Mana Artisan Botanics Hemp Oil. Available in macadamia and coconut flavors, this turmeric-infused oil also contains coconut oil.
- 4 Corners Cannabis Oral Tincture. This organic oil comes in coconut and orange flavors. The Colorado-based company triple-filters the hemp oil extracts and ensures the plants are free of pesticides and heavy metals.
- Zion Medicinals Organic Spagyric Full Spectrum Hemp Oil. Organic, full-spectrum, and unflavored. Spagyric processing burns off plant byproducts to create white ash, which is then filtered and added to the extract. This is thought to increase medicinal properties.
- Lazarus Natural High Potency CBD Tincture. The company behind this cost-effective oil offers assistance programs for veterans, people with low income, and people with long-term disabilities.
- Flora Sophia Botanicals Full Spectrum Hemp Extract. This small-batch supplier also uses third-party lab testing. It offers wholesale pricing for people with chronic medical issues.
- Eureka Effects Full Spectrum CBD. This oil includes cannabinoids and terpenes, which could help alleviate anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
- Sisters of the Valley CBD Infused Oil. This CBD-infused oil also contains hemp and essential oils. It’s a cost-effective option for beginners.
Other fun products to try
- Hemp gummies. Get a little playful before sex with full-spectrum gummies. They’re organic and vegan too!
- CBD Daily Massage Lotion. Wanna set the mood? Try a CBD-infused massage to relax before you get it on.
- Awaken Natural Arousal Oil. This CBD oil reduces dryness and discomfort while enhancing the good vibes.
- Love: Dark Milk Chocolate for Arousal. For you lucky folks in Colorado, this CBD edible is specifically made to boost your sex game. It includes five herbal aphrodisiacs along with a blend of CBD and THC to relax your mind.
Obviously, you can incorporate CBD into your lovemaking any way you please. Play around with different products to figure out what’s most sexy and fun for you and your partner.
Not sure where to start? Try one of these suggestions:
- Nosh on CBD edibles before sex to feel more relaxed and confident.
- Get in the mood with a CBD oil massage.
- Use CBD-infused lubes to fight dryness and enhance pleasure.
- Take a CBD oil or tincture before sex to banish the butterflies and boost feel-good vibes.
Marijuana legalization is changing rapidly, but CBD is kinda-sorta in the gray zone in some places.
The FDA is still conducting research on CBD and its side effects. It might be a while before anything is official. For now, it’s best to check your state and local laws before ordering CBD products.
It’s likely the FDA will start implementing more regulations in the CBD market. That would include dosage recommendations, lists of drug interactions, and even warnings about long-term use.
Until that happens, check your laws and talk to your healthcare provider if you’re unsure which products are safest for you.
And remember that there are trace amounts of THC in hemp, so it is possible to test positive for THC when using CBD products.
CBD is popular right now for a reason. Research suggests it’s great for reducing anxiety and calming inflammation. But we need more research on how much CBD can enhance your love life.
Since CBD seems to have relatively few side effects and they tend to be mild, it might be worth a shot if you’re hoping to add some spice to your sexcapades.
If you’re on prescription meds, ask your healthcare provider if CBD is safe for you. And if you’re hoping to get pregnant soon, talk to your doc about CBD-related risks.