Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is one of the most common sexual dysfunctions for men, affecting nearly 50% of Canadian men by the time they reach 40.

If you’ve spent any time on natural health websites, you may have seen recommendations for cannabidiol, or CBD, as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

While there’s currently no research on CBD as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, studies show that it might be helpful for treating anxiety that can contribute to ED and other sexual health issues.

But the causes of erectile dysfunction are ultimately chemical.

Considerable evidence indicates that increased oxidative stress and decreased nitric oxide (NO) levels are both leading factors in the development of erectile dysfunction. This is because free radicals both deplete nitric oxide levels in your body and damage participating tissue and endothelial cells, your primary source of nitric oxide.

Free radicals are generally accepted as the leading cause of accelerated aging, and can trigger a cascade of destabilizing pathologies that develop into chronic conditions.

Therefore, we suggest that CBD has two well-studied applications that ay make it useful in treating erectile dysfunction:

  • CBD is a potent full-spectrum antioxidant
  • CBD increases anandamide levels, which both mediates nitric oxide levels and supports vasorelaxation independently of nitric oxide

Below, we’ve explained what erectile dysfunction is, as well as the key factors that may cause you to experience difficulties getting or keeping an erection.

We’ve also dug into the science behind CBD to find out how it may be helpful for treating some sexual performance issues.

CBD for erectile dysfunction: The basics.

  • Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a variety of factors, from physical health issues to factors like stress, anxiety, or use of certain medications that prevent proper muscle relaxation responses.
  • Oxidative stress is associated with decreased normal erectile response because of damage caused to the endothelium, the primary source of nitric oxide (NO).
  • Alteration in the concentration of NO due to damage to the endothelium or to its increased destruction appears to be the most important cause of ED, especially in the presence of vascular disease.
  • Currently, no there is no scientific research on CBD as a treatment for ED.
  • However, some research suggests that CBD may be an effective treatment for anxiety, which is occasionally a causative factor in ED.
  • CBD exerts potent full-spectrum antioxidant activity and is studied to restore and enhance your body's ability to manage its oxidative balance, which may help prevent ED caused by oxidative damage.
  • CBD also increases anandamide levels and enhances anandamide signaling. Anandamide has been reported to improve vasorelaxation both independently and through the endothelial release of nitric oxide (NO).
  • CBD's combined benefits might be able to restore endothelial function and restore cellular health, rather than provide the temporary intervention that ED medications like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®) provide to increase blood flow to the penis.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction is a common medical condition in which you may find it difficult to develop or maintain an erection. You may have ED if you:

  • are able to get an erection, but find it difficult to do so consistently when you want to have sex
  • are able to  get an erection, but can’t maintain it long enough for enjoyable sex
  • can’t get an erection at all

Although ED becomes more common with age, it can affect men of all ages. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that approximately one out of every four men seeking help for ED is under the age of forty.

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by various factors, ranging from physical health issues to psychological conditions, medications, and even certain habits and lifestyle factors.

Regardless of the cause, studies indicate that two underlying physiological mechanisms are at play:

  • the overproduction of free radicals
  • decrease in nitric oxide levels

Free radicals are a natural by-product of increased metabolic pressures, but they can impact your body's natural antioxidant defense system and disrupt vital chemistry.

This imbalance of prooxidants and antioxidants is emerging as one of the leading causes of most health and age-related concerns, including mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and postpartum depression; neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's; and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and more — erectile dysfunction included.

Oxidative stress is studied to cause erectile dysfunction by damaging tissues and your endothilium, the vessels involved in the production of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is essential for maintaining strong, healthy erections, and low levels are demonstrated in ED cases. We'll get into that later.

Oxidative stress also directly increases the rate that nitric oxide degrades, quickly depleting their levels.

Certain antidepressants, such as paroxetine, are shown to inhibit erectile response due to reduced NO production.

What Is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a type of compound called a cannabinoid that’s extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike many other cannabinoids, CBD doesn’t have any intoxicating activity, meaning it won't make you feel the typical high associated with THC.

CBD and other cannabinoids work by modulating your endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is located throughout your central nervous system, immune system, and organs. Your ECS's primary function is to regulate homeostasis, or balance, and plays a role in a variety of functions, from learning and cognition to immune regulation, stress response management, cardiovascular function, energy metabolism, and more.

Currently, CBD is being studied as a potential new medication for conditions such as epilepsy, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and others. It also has nootropic, neuroprotective, and neurogenetic properties.

CBD's numerous therapeutic applications can be attributed to the diversity of molecular targets it interacts with. In addition to supporting homeostasis through the ECS, CBD is studied to modulate:

  • TRPV receptors, which are involved in pain, inflammation, and depression
  • Serotonin receptors, which regulate mood, cognition, circadian processes, energy balance, metabolism, and immune function
  • Antioxidant balance, supporting cellular health and glutathione levels, indicators of your biological age. Glutathione is your body's master antioxidant
  • Mitochondrial function, which supports energy production and cardiovascular function

and more.

CBD is available in a range of MSC products, from Full Spec. CBD oil to gummies, sleep aids, and even personal care products.

Does CBD treat erectile dysfunction?

Right now, there’s no research that directly shows that CBD treats erectile dysfunction or improves sexual performance.

It's important to note what little research there is looks at the effects of cannabis as a whole, not specific cannabinoids such as CBD. As such, their findings may not apply to products that contain CBD or other isolated cannabinoids.

On the other hand, there are many studies on CBD in general, from pre-clinical to clinical. These studies provide lengthy explanations of CBD's molecular targets, the resulting chemical reactions, and therapeutic implications.

There are also many studies on both the psychological and physiological development of erectile dysfunction, which can largely be attributed to:

  • stress and mood disorders (anxiety, depression), which affect desire and drive
  • oxidative stress, which causes tissue damage and chemical imbalances at a cellular level
  • nitric oxide levels, which effects blood flow and muscle relaxation

Below, we synthesize research on CBD's molecular targets with research on the pathology of erectile dysfunction to illustrate its therapeutic potential in the treatment of ED.

Sexual Performance Anxiety, Erectile Dysfunction, and CBD

There is a rich and growing body of research on CBD's mood-enhancing benefits. Nootropic CBD's neuroprotective and neurogenetic properties, which we cover in detail in an article on CBD and brain health, is likely the reason CBD may be useful is in treating and managing a range of neurological concerns, including anxiety.

Sexual performance anxiety is a feeling of nervousness and anxiety that can happen before and during sex. As we’ve covered in our guide to cannabis and sex, anxiety that’s related to sex may contribute to sexual performance issues, including erectile dysfunction.

For example, a 2020 review published by the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association found that CBD showed promising results as an alternative treatment for anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.

That's because CBD promotes healthy serotonin activity, a family of neurotransmitters that is famous for its role in mood, cognition, and brain health.

Oxidative Stress, Erectile Dysfunction, and CBD

Oxidative stress occurs when cells are exposed to excessive levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a result of an imbalance between pro-oxidants and the protective mechanisms offered by antioxidants.

Your endothelium — your body's primary producer of nitric oxide — is the major source of these free radicals. Because of their vital role in energy balance, metabolism, and libido, it's vital that they maintain a healthy antioxidant level.

Stress, inflammation, toxins, and repeated injury can lead to an overproduction of ROS.

Oxidative stress caused by free radical damage is the leading contributor to the aging process. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that oxidative stress to your blood vessels and tissues in your penis plays a role in ED and the natural aging process.

This is one explanation for the prevalence and severity of ED increase with age.

In addition damaging tissue and blood vessels, oxidative stress also decreases nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability.

Nitric oxide (NO) is believed to be the main vasoactive nonadrenergic, noncholinergic neurotransmitter and chemical mediator of penile erection. That's science talk for your body needs it for strong, healthy erections.

NO is primarily released by endothelial cells of the penis. Oxidative stress not only impacts your endothelium's ability to product NO in ED, but it causes NO levels to rapidly decrease.

Preclinical and clinical studies have contributed to our understanding of the therapeutic potential of CBD for many diseases, including diseases associated with oxidative stress.

CBD has been shown to modify and balance the level and activity of both oxidants and antioxidants. CBD, like other antioxidants, interrupts free radical chain reactions, capturing free radicals or transforming them into less active forms.

A Flow Chart Demonstrating CBD's Full-Spectrum Antioxidant Effects

Direct antioxidant effects of CBD (closed arrows indicate reducing effects; opened arrows indicate inducing action).

Source: Figure 2, Atalay, Sinemyiz et al. “Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 9,1 21. 25 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3390/antiox9010021

Numerous studies demonstrate CBD's ability to, directly and indirectly, reduce the levels of free radicals, increase antioxidant activity, restore cellular structure integrity, and promote healthy aging by protecting cells from oxidative stress.

This makes it a promising therapeutic tool for both the prevention and treatment of oxidative damage to tissues and organs lead to erectile dysfunction.

Nitric Oxide, Erectile Dysfunction, and CBD

Nitric oxide is the primary mediator of your erection.

You've likely heard of nitric oxide (NO) in the context of exercise. That's because it's a potent vasodilator, supporting healthy bloodflow.

NO naturally produced in your epithelium. Numerous studies implicate it in regional flow, smooth-muscle function, and

It has been implicated in regional blood flow, smooth-muscle function, and secretory responses, i.e. cumming.

Low levels of NO can lead to erectile dysfunction. However, too-high levels of NO can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. That's because NO is a highly reactive free radical itself, and can contribute to oxidative stress.

While oxidative stress can impact NO levels, other factors can also contribute to decreased production.

CBD can help with nitric oxide-iniduced ED by increasing anandamide levels and tone.

Anandamide is shown to exert its vasorelaxant effect by upregulating the expression and activity of nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthase.

Anandamide was also found to release NO in a variety of human blood vessels, as well as the right atrium of the heart.

Interestingly, other studies show that anandamide induced vasorelaxation even when nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthase were inhibited.

CBD is also studied to balance nitric oxide levels, which is likely mediated by the ECS's balancing processes.

A 2012 study showed for the first time that CBD itself causes vasorelaxation through the endothelium and nitric
oxide release.

Final remarks.

In addition to its psychological factors, erectile dysfunction is associated with an imbalance between several components, including aggressive free radical production, decreased antioxidant activity, lowered nitric oxide levels, and endothelial dysfunction.

Oxidative stress is an important factor in the progression of erectile. It is responsible for numerous molecular changes that weaken the integrity tissues and blood vessels that subsequently lead to decreased nitric oxide levels, thus favoring the development of this pathology.

Everything is chemistry. By using safe, natural therapeutics to target the effects of oxidative stress at their source and restoring antioxant activity and nitric oxide levels, we're hoping we can help you with yours.

If you're interested in more clinically studied plant therapeutics, you may want to check out our article on Cordyceps and sex. Traditionally known as "Himalayan Viagra," there's a reason we include this bioactive shroom in our Energy Stack and Immune Stack microdose capsules.

Related Reading: Horny Science: How Cordyceps Boosts Libido and Fertility in Both Men and Women

Anandamide has been reported to mediate vasodilation in kidney afferent arterioles through the endothelial release of nitric oxide (NO) (Deutsch et al. 1997). Anandamide was also found to release NO in a variety of human blood vessels as well as the right atrium (Bilfinger et al. 1998). In contrast, in other studies the anandamide-induced vasorelaxation was insensitive to inhibition of NO synthase (Randall et al. 1996White and Hiley 1997Járai et al. 1999).

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is one of the most common sexual dysfunctions for men, affecting nearly 50% of Canadian men by the time they reach 40.

If you’ve spent any time on natural health websites, you may have seen recommendations for cannabidiol, or CBD, as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

While there’s currently no research showing that CBD is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction, it might be helpful for treating anxiety that can contribute to ED and other sexual health issues.

Furthermore, considerable evidence demonstrates that increased oxidative stress and decreased nitric oxide (NO) levels are both critically implicated in the development of erectile dysfunction.

Therefore, we suggest that two of CBD's studied properties may have novel applications in treating erectile dysfunction:

  • as a potent full-spectrum antioxidant
  • by helping mediate nitric oxide levels

Below, we’ve explained what erectile dysfunction is, as well as the key factors that may cause you to experience difficulties getting or keeping an erection.

We’ve also dug into the science behind CBD to find out how it may be helpful for treating some sexual performance issues.

Finally, we’ve listed the science-based treatment options that are available if you’re affected by ED.

CBD for erectile dysfunction: The basics.

  • Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a variety of factors, from physical health issues to factors like stress, anxiety, or use of certain medications that prevent proper muscle relaxation responses.
  • Oxidative stress is associated with decreased normal erectile response because of damage caused to the endothelium, the primary source of nitric oxide (NO).
  • Alteration in the concentration of NO due to damage to the endothelium or to its increased destruction appears to be the most important cause of ED, especially in the presence of vascular disease.
  • Most people with ED use medications like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®) to increase blood flow to the penis and treat erectile dysfunction.
  • Currently, there’s no scientific research showing that CBD is an effective treatment for ED or a suitable replacement for medications like sildenafil.
  • However, some research suggests that CBD may be an effective treatment for anxiety, which is occasionally a causative factor in ED.
  • CBD also increases anandamide levels and enhances anandamide signaling. Anandamide has been reported to improve vasorelaxation and vasodilation through the endothelial release of nitric oxide (NO).
  • Lastly, CBD is a potent full-spectrum antioxidant, and is also studied to restore enhance your body's ability to manage oxidative balance.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction is a common medical condition in which you may find it difficult to develop or maintain an erection. You may have ED if you:

  • are able to get an erection, but find it difficult to do so consistently when you want to have sex
  • are able to  get an erection, but can’t maintain it long enough for enjoyable sex
  • can’t get an erection at all

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by various factors, ranging from physical health issues to psychological conditions, medications, and even certain habits and lifestyle factors.

Common physical causes of ED include high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), type 2 diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and physical health conditions that affect your penis, such as Peyronie’s disease.

Psychological causes of ED include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and guilt or concerns about sexual behavior.

The one thing that all of these things have in common?

Overproduction of free radicals. It's a natural by-product of increased metabolic pressures, but it may impact your body's natural antioxidant defense system. In addition to erectile dysfunction, this imbalance of prooxidants and antioxidants is emerging as one of the leading causes of most health concerns, including mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and postpartum depression; neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's; and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and more.

Medications that may cause ED include antidepressants, antiandrogens, tranquilizers, and some medications used to treat high blood pressure.

Interestingly, certain antidepressants, such as paroxetine, are shown to inhibit erectile response due to reduced NO production.

Habits and lifestyle factors that may cause ED include smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, illicit drug use, lack of physical activity, and being overweight or obese.

Again, these lifestyle factors are linked to oxidative stress and decreased NO production.

Although ED becomes more common with age, it can affect men of all ages. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that approximately one out of every four men seeking help for ED is under the age of forty.

What Is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a type of compound, called a cannabinoid, that’s extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike many other cannabinoids, CBD doesn’t have any intoxicating activity, meaning it won't make you feel the typical high associated with THC.

CBD and other cannabinoids work by modulating your endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is located throughout your central nervous system, immune system, and organs. Your ECS's primary function is to regulate homeostasis, or balance, and plays a role in a variety of functions, from learning and cognition to cardiovascular function, energy metabolism, and more.

Currently, CBD is being studied as a potential new medication for conditions such as epilepsy, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and others. It also has nootropic, neuroprotective, and neurogenetic properties.

CBD's numerous therapeutic applications can be attributed to the diversity of molecular targets it interacts with. In addition to supporting homeostasis through the ECS, CBD is studied to modulate:

  • TRPV receptors, which are involved in pain, inflammation, and depression
  • Serotonin receptors, which regulate mood, cognition, circadian processes, energy balance, metabolism, and immune function
  • Antioxidant balance, supporting cellular health and glutathione levels, indicators of your biological age. Glutathione is your body's master antioxidant
  • Mitochondrial function, which supports energy production and cardiovascular function

and more.

CBD is available in a range of MSC products, from Full Spec. CBD oil to gummies, sleep aids, and even personal care products.

Does CBD treat erectile dysfunction?

Right now, there’s no research that directly shows that CBD treats erectile dysfunction or improves sexual performance. It's important to note what little research there is looks at the effects of cannabis as a whole, not specific cannabinoids such as CBD. As such, their findings may not apply to products that contain CBD or other isolated cannabinoids.

On the other hand, there are many studies on CBD in general, from pre-clinical to clinical. These studies provide lengthy explanations of CBD's molecular targets, the resulting chemical reactions, and therapeutic implications.

There are also many studies on both the psychological and physiological development of erectile dysfunction, which can largely be attributed to:

  • stress and mood disorders (anxiety, depression), which effect desire and drive
  • oxidative stress, which causes tissue damage and chemical imbalances at a cellular level
  • nitric oxide levels, which effects blood flow and muscle relaxation

Below, we synthesize research on CBD's molecular targets with research on the pathology of erectile dysfunction to illustrate its therapeutic potential in the treatment of ED.

Sexual Performance Anxiety, Erectile Dysfunction, and CBD

There is a rich and growing body of research on CBD's mood-enhancing benefits. Nootropic CBD's neuroprotective and neurogenetic properties, which we cover in detail in an article on CBD and brain health, is likely the reason CBD may be useful is in treating and managing a range of neurological concerns, including anxiety.

Sexual performance anxiety is a feeling of nervousness and anxiety that can happen before and during sex. As we’ve covered in our guide to cannabis and sex, anxiety that’s related to sex may contribute to sexual performance issues, including erectile dysfunction.

For example, a 2020 review published by the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association found that CBD showed promising results as an alternative treatment for anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.

That's because CBD promotes healthy serotonin activity, a family of neurotransmitters that is famous for its role in mood, cognition, and brain health.

Oxidative Stress, Erectile Dysfunction, and CBD

Oxidative stress occurs when cells are exposed to excessive levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a result of an imbalance between pro-oxidants and the protective mechanisms offered by antioxidants.

Your endothelium — your body's primary producer of nitric oxide — is the major source of these free radicals. Because of their vital role in energy balance, metabolism, and libido, it's vital that they maintain a healthy antioxidant level.

Stress, inflammation, toxins, and repeated injury can lead to an overproduction of ROS.

Oxidative stress caused by free radical damage is the leading contributor to the aging process. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that oxidative stress to your blood vessels and tissues in your penis plays a role in ED and the natural aging process.

This is one explanation for the prevalence and severity of ED increase with age.

In addition to damage to tissue and blood vessels, oxidative stress also decreases nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability.

Nitric oxide (NO) is believed to be the main vasoactive nonadrenergic, noncholinergic neurotransmitter and chemical mediator of penile erection. That's science talk for your body needs it for strong, healthy erections.

NO is primarily released by endothelial cells of the penis. Oxidative stress not only impacts your endothelium's ability to product NO in ED, but it causes NO levels to rapidly decrease.

Preclinical and clinical studies have contributed to our understanding of the therapeutic potential of CBD for many diseases, including diseases associated with oxidative stress.

CBD has been shown to modify and balance the level and activity of both oxidants and antioxidants. CBD, like other antioxidants, interrupts free radical chain reactions, capturing free radicals or transforming them into less active forms.

A Flow Chart Demonstrating CBD's Full-Spectrum Antioxidant Effects

Direct antioxidant effects of CBD (closed arrows indicate reducing effects; opened arrows indicate inducing action).

Source: Figure 2, Atalay, Sinemyiz et al. “Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 9,1 21. 25 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3390/antiox9010021

Numerous studies demonstrate CBD's ability to, directly and indirectly, reduce the levels of free radicals, increase antioxidant activity, restore cellular structure integrity, and promote healthy aging by protecting cells from oxidative stress.

This makes it a promising therapeutic tool for both the prevention and treatment of oxidative damage to tissues and organs lead to erectile dysfunction.

Nitric Oxide, Erectile Dysfunction, and CBD

Nitric oxide is the primary mediator of your erection.

You've likely heard of nitric oxide (NO) in the context of exercise. That's because it's a potent vasodilator, supporting healthy bloodflow.

NO naturally produced in your epithelium. Numerous studies implicate it in regional flow, smooth-muscle function, and

It has been implicated in regional blood flow, smooth-muscle function, and secretory responses, i.e. cumming.

Low levels of NO can lead to erectile dysfunction. However, too-high levels of NO can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. That's because NO is a highly reactive free radical itself, and can contribute to oxidative stress.

While oxidative stress can impact NO levels, other factors can also contribute to decreased production.

CBD can help with nitric oxide-iniduced ED by increasing anandamide levels and tone.

Anandamide is shown to exert its vasorelaxant effect by upregulating the expression and activity of nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthase.

Anandamide was also found to release NO in a variety of human blood vessels, as well as the right atrium of the heart.

Interestingly, other studies show that anandamide induced vasorelaxation even when nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthase were inhibited.

CBD is also studied to balance nitric oxide levels, which is likely mediated by the ECS's balancing processes.

A 2012 study showed for the first time that CBD itself causes vasorelaxation through the endothelium and nitric
oxide release.

Final remarks.

In addition to its psychological factors, erectile dysfunction is associated with an imbalance between several components, including aggressive free radical production, decreased antioxidant activity, lowered nitric oxide levels, and endothelial dysfunction.

Oxidative stress is an important factor in the progression of erectile. It is responsible for numerous molecular changes that weaken the integrity tissues and blood vessels that subsequently lead to decreased nitric oxide levels, thus favoring the development of this pathology.

Everything is chemistry. By using safe, natural therapeutics to target the effects of oxidative stress at their source and restoring antioxant activity and nitric oxide levels, we're hoping we can help you with yours.

If you're interested in more clinically studied plant therapeutics, you may want to check out our article on Cordyceps and sex. Traditionally known as "Himalayan Viagra," there's a reason we include this bioactive shroom in our Energy Stack and Immune Stack microdose capsules.

Related Reading: Horny Science: How Cordyceps Boosts Libido and Fertility in Both Men and Women

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