A new study suggests that marijuana may help prevent erectile dysfunction in individuals most at risk.
One of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction is high cholesterol, which can clog blood vessels and weaken blood flow to the penis. Over time, it may also result in abnormal tissue build up, leading to permanent dysfunction.
But new findings published in the journal Clinical & Developmental Immunology explain how marijuana may help.
By targeting specific pathways related to marijuana, researchers from Switzerland were able to reduce erectile-related damage in mice with high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia). These marijuana pathways, called CB2 receptors, are present in many parts of the body, including tissues of the penis.
“In summary, CB2 activation decreased histological features, which were associated with erectile dysfunction in hypercholesterolemic mice.”
After three weeks of treatment, tissue samples taken from the mice showed lower levels of fibrosis (abnormal tissue build up) and other cholesterol-related injuries, compared to mice that were left untreated.
Though still in its early stages, the research is promising and helps shed light on the ongoing debate over marijuana and sexual function. Up till now, studies have mostly focused on marijuana’s short-term effects, and have provided conflicting results.
The only research conducted in human subjects suggests that marijuana may have aphrodisiac-like effects. However, some pre-clinical evidence shows that another marijuana pathway, the CB1 receptor, may interfere with the ability to achieve an erection.
While the latest findings suggest that marijuana might offer long-term prevention against erectile dysfunction, the authors state that more research is needed to confirm the results.
The study received funding from the Brazilian Swiss Joint Research Program, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Novartis Foundation and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPQ)