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Marijuana: Effects on the Endocrine Reproductive Systems

The topic for this blog post was suggested by a reader. I figured it was likely important, since many of you struggle with depression and arthritis or some sort of chronic pain, and you're self-medicating. The effects of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, on hormones, is quite extensive. I am summarizing the findings reported in the reference I list at the end. Bottom line, it's probably not the greatest idea to be regularly introducing marijuana into your system if your hormones are out of balance and you're trying to correct that problem. Even if you're not trying to become pregnant but you're sexually active. The effects outside of your own self are potentially significant.

Interestingly, improving your omega-6 to omega-3 dietary ratio helps to correct some of your own human cannabinoid levels, which may help to decrease the desire to get them from an external source. It may also alleviate the depression and joint pain that you may be using marijuana for in the first place. Some experts suggest that this imbalance of our "natural THC" may be one reason women with PCOS have strong carbohydrate cravings--it's another form of the munchies!

Reduced FSH and LH levels.
Suppressed prolactin, thyroid, growth hormone
Provokes cortisol release and reduces production of adrenal steroids, which makes it hard to maintain hormone levels.
Interferes with ovarian prostaglandin synthesis.

HCG-stimulated and FSH-stimulated progesterone secretion is inhibited.
Inhibits estradiol release.

Inhibits cholesterol esterase manufacture, and cholesterol is the building block for many reproductive hormones.
Hyperplasia and hypertrophy of the uterus
Changes in vaginal cell thickness, character and mucoid presentation
Reduced uterine weight
Suppresses thyroid function.

A dose of LH that routinely caused ovulation in normal rats was only able to induce ovulation in 40% of the rats exposed to THC.
Two to fourfold greater doses of LH were required to restore ovulation in THC-exposed rats.

The equivalent of one marijuana cigarette per day interfered with cell division and embryonic growth in fertlized eggs. It also reduced intrauterine weight gain by the fetus.

Offspring of rats exposed to THC had abnormal eggs, meaning the fertility of future generations was also affected.

Prevents reuptake of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine into the brain, increasing, not decreasing, depression over the long term.

Braude MC, Ludford MP, eds. Marijuana: Effects on the Endocrine Reproductive Systems. 1984

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