By now, as an avid athlete, you have probably heard of CBD (Cannabidiol) oil making the rounds on the news and all over the internet, piquing your interest in the subject.
You may have also heard that it can help alleviate post-workout pain and enhance your recuperative ability, making it very interesting. But there is also likely one large shadow that looms over you; will CBD oil usage negatively affect my testosterone levels?
It actually is an important question to field and one whose myths we hope to dispel in this article.
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CBD And THC Are Not The Same
If you know anything about cannabinoids, you probably already know that THC and CBD are not the same things. At best, they can be considered siblings, though they are very different. Whereas CBD is the reserved and more or less “calming” cannabinoid, THC is psychoactive and is what brings on the marijuana high everyone knows about.
But why is this important when it related to testosterone? It’s because of the way they interact with the endocannabinoid system (the body’s natural cannabinoid system), otherwise known as the ECS. For instance, it has been found that when the cannabinoids interact and bind to the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors, the CB1, and CB2 subtypes, testosterone production is suppressed.
This is NOT good, and probably not what you were expecting to read. But, and it is a BIG but, this applies primarily to the cannabinoids that actually bind to the receptor. In case you were wondering, THC is the cannabinoid that binds to the CB receptors, not CBD.
This is bad news for recreational smokers as they may be inadvertently suppressing their testosterone production without realizing it, but good (better) news for using CBD.
The Endocannabinoid System And The Hypothalamic-Pituitary Axis
For testosterone to be produced by the testes, appropriate signals must be relayed from the brain, starting at the hypothalamus. Subsequently, is the pituitary which then signals for the luteinizing hormone to increase testosterone production within Leydig cells in the testes.
CB receptors can be found in sperm cells, along with the pituitary and Leydig cells, where they can modulate production of testosterone and associated indicators of male fertility.
What Does All This Mean?
On the grander scale of things, all cannabinoids impair testosterone production to an extent. THC is much worse for your testosterone levels than CBD since it lacks other desirable attributed which CBD possesses.
For instance, CBD helps to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol and testosterone share a negatively inverse relationship, which simply means that increasing one has the effect of decreasing the other. By reducing cortisol, you lend a hand to testosterone.
In addition to this, CBD appears to also diminish the breakdown of testosterone via the liver, in effect allowing it to maintain in circulation for a longer time. It is also important to realize that testosterone is useless unless it is unbound, meaning that free testosterone is of greater importance than overall testosterone levels.
Summary- CBD and Testosterone
When it comes down to it, using CBD will not increase your testosterone levels. It is important that you identify what you specify goals are before committing to using CBD oil for recovery, especially if you are actively exploring other means to try and increase your blood androgens.
Our recommendation? Get your bloodwork done before opting for CBD. This will help determine if your testosterone levels are good since you do not want to impair its synthesis if you should be increasing testosterone.
CBD should not be considered a deterrent. However, since as we mentioned it has other things going on for itself that are favorable for maintaining your testosterone levels, just keep in mind it will not positively enhance your levels of this hormone.