The singer Billy Joel once said that there’s nothing better than good sex, but that even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is better than bad sex. Cannabis consumers often feel that weed helps their sex lives, but with so many options, how can you find the best weed strains for good sex?
How can cannabis help with sex
Sometimes people experience pleasurable and sensual sex naturally, with no external aids, but for many, sexual experience can be impaired by physical or emotional factors. In order to find the cannabis strains that may help improve your sex life, you need to understand the sexual response cycle, and identify what causes sexual dysfunction.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “the sexual response cycle is one model of physical and emotional changes that happens when you are participating in sexual activity”. There are a few cycle models, but one of the most popular models includes four stages: 1
Some of the issues people often have with sexual function include: 2
- Lack of sexual desire or interest in sex
- Inability to become physically aroused or excited during sexual activity
- Delay or absence of orgasm
- Pain during intercourse
Common causes can be divided into psychological elements such as stress, anxiety and depression, and physical conditions such as diabetes, kidney diseases, neurological disorders and hormonal imbalance.
This guide will focus on finding weed strains that may help with depression, anxiety and stress — the main psychological and emotional conditions that can cause issues with desire, arousal and orgasm.
How to choose cannabis for sex
Due to years of cannabis prohibition and lack of research, the standard practice when choosing cannabis strains was to either look at the indica/sativa origins of the plant, or at the strain’s name. However, these methods can’t necessarily predict the effects of the cannabis you’ll get. The terms indica and sativa mainly refer to physical differences between types of cannabis (somewhat like green and red apples), but ignore the chemical profile of the plant, which is what actually determines the effects it will have on you.
Using strain names has the potential to be effective, but lack of regulation created an environment where these names don’t mean much. Since they aren’t standardized, anyone can grow anything and call it whatever they wish.
This is where the chemovar approach becomes relevant. With this method, you’ll be looking at the most dominant cannabinoids and terpenes in a given cannabis plant, and choose your cannabis based on their known properties.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of cannabis chemotypes:
- Type I: High THC-Low CBD
- Type II: Balanced (roughly 1:1) THC-CBD ratio
- Type III: High CBD-low THC
Often preferred by recreational users for its potency, Type I is the most common cannabis chemotype. But for improving sexual function, it seems Types II and III may be more effective. These types may make dosing THC easier, which is why they are sometimes more popular among clinicians 3. They may also help manage the biphasic effect of THC, where lower doses could help depression, anxiety and stress, while higher doses of THC can actually cause them.
Best terpenes for sex
After choosing your preferred chemotype, the next step involves deciding which terpenes are best for you. According to the entourage effect hypothesis, terpenes could potentiate some of the effects of THC and CBD. When choosing weed for stress, anxiety or depression, look for chemovars that contain cannabinoids and terpenes that show potential as antidepressants and stress and anxiety relievers. These include linalool, pinene, limonene and Beta-caryophyllene (BCP).
There are many studies that can speak to these effects, but most of them are pre-clinical, which means they don’t involve human participants. This means that the best way to use this information is in order to narrow down your possibilities when choosing cannabis products, remembering that there’s still a lot we don’t know about if and how these chemovars work for sex (or more specifically — stress, anxiety and depression).
Terpenes to consider: linalool, pinene
- In a clinical study that examined the effects of inhaled linalool on 24 participants, the researchers concluded that “linalool proved to be stress-relieving as determined by heart rate”4.
- In a number of animal model studies, pinene has shown to effectively reduce stress levels of mice5.
Terpenes to consider: linalool, limonene, BCP
- Silexan is a well studied medicine that is based on lavender oil (linalool being the active ingredient). A review based on seven different clinical trials concluded that “Silexan is a safe and effective treatment in anxiety disorders.”6 However, it’s worth noting that the dose of Silexan often used is higher than the one found in most cannabis.
- A preclinical study that tested the anxiolytic effect of different types of limonene stated that “limonene epoxide exerts an anxiolytic-like effect on mice, and could serve as a new approach for the treatment of anxiety.”7 Limonene epoxide is one of the degradation products of limonene.
- In a 2014 study, BCP showed to be an effective anxiolytic agent (in mice) through interaction with the cannabinoid receptor CB28.
Terpenes to consider: linalool, pinene, limonene, BCP
- A 2015 study in mice suggested that “linalool and Beta-pinene produce an antidepressant-like effect.9”
- A 2019 study stated that “limonene possessed an antidepressant effect in CUMS (chronic unpredictable mild stress) mice,10” and there is also some preliminary evidence in humans to support this.
- According to a 2020 study performed on animal models, “BCP may be effective in treating depression and stress related mental illnesses.11”
Cannabis strains often have one dominant terpene with concentrations above 1% and a few more with more modest concentrations between 0.1 and 1%, or a few (often two to five) terpenes in modest concentrations of 0.1% to 1%. That being said, terpenes are considered as being of pharmacological interest at concentrations above 0.05%, so it makes sense to see much lower numbers compared to the concentrations of THC or CBD. The Cannigma strain reviews are based on average numbers from test results of products that have a similar name. But what’s really going to affect your experience is the ingredients in the one you choose.
The following list of marijuana strains (chemovars) may help you narrow down the options, but keep in mind you could also find the below products with different chemical profiles. Therefore, it’s important to know which cannabinoids and terpenes are more likely to work for what you’re trying to achieve, whether it be to help with stress, anxiety or depression.
The most important factor to consider is the chemical profile, and not necessarily the specific name. Keep in mind that strains dominant with BCP and/or linalool are also more likely to induce sleep, so if this is an issue you can look for chemovars high in limonene and/or pinene instead.
Strains that can help with stress
The best strains for stress will be either Type II (balanced THC:CBD ratio) or III (CBD dominant with low amounts of THC). Dominant terpenes that may help with stress are linalool or pinene. Some chemovars that could have this type of chemical profile include strains such as Cannatonic and Critical Mass.
Strains that may help with anxiety
Strains that may help with depression
When choosing a strain to help with depression, you should stick to Type III chemovars, with dominant terpenes BCP, limonene or linalool. Ringo’s Gift, for example, is often found to be high in CBD and low in THC, with ranging amounts of limonene, BCP and limonene. Another Type III that may work for depression is AC/DC, which is often high in limonene, BCP, and pinene.