Cannabis and Sex
Author: Erik McBride
Throughout history, Cannabis and its preparations such as Bhang and Hashish have been used for sexual reasons. Some used it as an aphrodisiac, and some used it as an inhibitor. Because of the multiple uses of Cannabis for sexual reasons in history and the taboo (and often illegal) status of this ancient, sacred plant today it can be difficult to establish just exactly how this plant affects us and our sexual natures.
When we think of Cannabis, we may think of some of the propaganda spread by those who would like to exterminate the plant. Some of us may have heard rumors that smoking Cannabis will cause men to grow breasts, make your hair fall out, cause both women and men to become infertile, transform a heterosexual into a homosexual, and other nonsense. These claims and rumors are completely unfounded, and are really just intended to scare you. Most of these claims are based on pseudo-scientific studies with bad or lack of controls, or wrongly theorized from results of some of these same tests. These rumors are based off of hormonal changes in the body that come from perceived effects – for instance, if you become calm after consuming Cannabis, your testosterone levels may slightly decline, but you will not sprout a prestigious pair of mammary glands from a lower level of this hormone, and it will not cause all your hair to fall out. Reports that Cannabis reduces your fertility are likewise unfounded, as they are based primarily off of “lower than average” sperm counts in the male and reported changes in ovulation (reported, not observed through studies in humans, mind you) in females. Attempting to scare others with reports of “Cannabis makes heterosexuals gay” is just dastardly and ridiculous, as there is absolutely no way to even support that theory or quantify heterosexuality or homosexuality for scientific studies. But, we do have some factual evidence on what Cannabis does. Cannabis is a vasodilator, which means that it expands blood vessels, increasing heart rate and lowering blood pressure in the process. Cannabis is also a euphoric, and bonds to the anandamide receptors in the brain; anandamide means “bliss amide” and plays a great role in pleasure sensitivity (wikipedia.org). With the combination of increasing blood flow and pleasure response, it is little wonder that Cannabis makes an effective aphrodisiac. Enhanced blood flow means greater engorgement in the genitals of the male and female, and enhanced pleasure response means that our bodies will respond even more greatly to sexual touching.
Despite the natural aphrodisiac properties of Cannabis, its greatest impact on sex rests with the way it affects our minds. Because it enhances our physical pleasure of sensation and makes us euphoric, our inhibitions can be lowered. We become more at peace with things that we normally would be afraid or would find reasons not to do. This lowering of inhibitions can lead to more sex with partners for whom we have no emotional connection – we simply partake in the sex act for the joy of sex. Since a lot of us are programmed since early childhood to only have physical relationships with people we have strong emotional bonds for, some of us are unable to engage in “casual sex” and we can use Cannabis as an aphrodisiac to overcome that obstacle and simply enjoy another’s physical presence for the sheer sake of pleasure itself.
Another result of the way Cannabis affects our minds can be displayed in just the opposite of the aphrodisiac effect. If we consume Cannabis because we’re extremely distressed or angry, it can increase these feelings and make us more agitated. If we partake of it in order to resist sensual desires, it will work for that end as well. Cannabis can be a multi-functional tool that should be used responsibly. If we consider how we intend to use it and moderate our response to its bodily and consciousness effects upon us, we can utilize it in whichever fashion is best for us.
Erik McBride is the author of Awakening: Theory and Practice for the Aspiring Shaman
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