It’s no secret that marijuana can enhance sexual pleasure, but the advent of the THC-infused suppository means weed’s aphrodisiac qualities are once again a hot topic.
Recently, Complex Magazine recently wrote about the use of marijuana for enhancing pleasure during anal sex, and Leafly published an article about how cannabis can increase sexual pleasure for those over 50. Marijuana’s erotic powers are so well-known that a cannabis-infused lube has been created with the purpose of increasing sexual pleasure.
But does scientific and historical evidence support the notion that cannabis is an effective aphrodisiac? Let’s take a look.
The evidence for cannabis’s sex-enhancing powers isn’t just anecdotal. Scientific studies have given us a great deal of insight into the use of marijuana as an aphrodisiac.
One of the active ingredients in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC stimulates the release of dopamine (the ‘happiness hormone’) in the brain. It also stimulates a neurochemical called anandamide, which is known as the ‘bliss molecule’.
Happiness, bliss, and THC’s ability to increase testosterone straight after consumption – it’s a combination that unsurprisingly improves sex drive and enhances sexual pleasure.
Scientific studies have shown that low to moderate dosage of cannabis can enhance sexual experiences by increasing the length and intensity of orgasms and aiding in partner bonding. This said, high dosages of cannabis can lead to erectile dysfunction and a decreased sexual appetite. Overall, it can delay ejaculation and orgasm.
When speaking to The High Times, psychiatrist Dr Lester Grinspoon mentions that cannabis can prevent premature ejaculation. Grinspoon’s seminal work, Marijuana Reconsidered, was one of the first academic studies that strongly suggested that marijuana could, indeed, enhance sex.
As we know, marijuana has a different effect on everyone. It’s no surprise, then, that marijuana will affect each person’s sexual experiences differently. In an informal survey reported in Psychology Today, 67% of respondents said that marijuana enhances sex, 12% said that it destroys sex, and 20% said that it depends on the strain, dosage and their mood. According to a survey by HelloMD, 14% of the medical marijuana users that participated said they specifically used marijuana to increase their sexual experiences.
Because one’s sexual experience is so dependent on the strain, a new business has worked on developing a specific strain of cannabis that maximizes its aphrodisiac qualities. Sexxpot is fairly low in THC and focuses on increasing the ‘body high’ without making the brain too high for the user to function.
We know marijuana’s healing and medicinal effects have been celebrated for centuries. But for how long have our ancestors used it to heighten their sexual experiences?
Evidence suggests that cannabis was used as an aphrodisiac in India as early as the 7th century. It was used in Tantra to enhance sexual pleasure. According to a 1998 Cannabis Culture article, “the Indian Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbi medicine systems used cannabis to increase libido, conquer impotence, cure various diseases… produce long-lasting erections, delay ejaculation, facilitate lubrication and loosen inhibitions.”
At this time, the participants didn’t smoke pot. Rather, they ingested it through bhang, a chai-like, milk-based drink that’s usually made with nuts, spices and sugar. When heated, the fat-soluble THC attached itself to the fat molecules in the milk. Bhang wasn’t just ingested for sexual purposes, but also for the health-enhancing benefits that we’re all familiar with today.
After the ingestion of bhang, the participants would engage in sexual intercourse. As Tantric sex seeks to enhance and prolong sexual activity without ejaculation, it’s no surprise that orgasm-delaying cannabis was used for this purpose. Bhang is still used in modern India outside of the Tantric context.
India is not the only society with a history of using cannabis as an aphrodisiac. Apparently, hemp is also associated with the Norse fertility goddess, Freya, who also symbolizes eroticism.
Many African societies also used – and still use – cannabis for sexual health. In western Uganda, cannabis is one of many traditional herbal remedies that is prescribed for erectile dysfunction. In societies in Egypt, Morocco and Lebanon, people consumed cannabis in a beverage named kif. Kif might have combined cannabis with opium for medicinal purposes, or with lavender, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and snakeroot for aphrodisiac purposes.
In the 1930s, Russian brides were advised to use cannabis to enhance pleasure (and reduce pain, I guess) when they consummated their marriage on their wedding nights. Cannabis was mixed with lamb’s fat and consumed by women on their wedding day.
More than just an aphrodisiac
When it came to sexual health, it’s important to note that cannabis wasn’t just used as an aphrodisiac.
Cannabis has a history of being used in obstetrics; its properties can be incredibly helpful during pregnancy and childbirth. It was – and still is – used during pregnancy to ease severe morning sickness and vomiting. The leaves can also be rubbed on engorged and painful breasts. As many people can attest, marijuana can also be used to ease menstrual cramps.
However you choose to use cannabis during sex, make sure you do so responsibly. Practice enthusiastic consent and safe sex with your partner – or partners!
This post was originally published on June 27, 2016, it was updated on March 15, 2017.