Van der Pop

What Lies Beneath


An introduction to the endocannabinoid system + sex

Photo by Carlyle Routh

Photo by Carlyle Routh

Have you ever wondered how cannabis use could enhance your intimate pleasure? You’re not alone! According to a recent VdP-created study, 6.4MM women in America are interested in how cannabis and sex relate*. Cannabis can become a part of anyone’s sex life because it addresses all the things that are crucial to having a pleasurable moment: Arousal, euphoria, anxiety relief, relaxation and the alleviation of physical discomfort. So, let the good times roll! 

But first things first. Here’s a primer on how cannabis affects us on a physiological level. Because sex is all about the body, baby.


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a neurotransmitter network made up of cell receptors and corresponding molecules throughout your body that allow you to process cannabis, much like how the nervous system receives messages, sends them to your brain, and prompts a reaction. Endo means within,cannabinoid refers to the compound that fits into cannabinoid receptors. 

The ECS maintains our body’s homeostasis, or natural “balance” – for example, the control of various functions from metabolism to pain management. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body – in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. The fact that our bodies have an ECS is what makes us so receptive and reactionary when it comes to consuming and using cannabis. And here's a fun fact: After the brain, the vagina, anus, uterus and genitals – all sexual organs –have the most ECS receptors.

THC and CBD have an effect on our body because it produces these compounds naturally, although they each interact very differently with it. The two primary cell receptors in the ECS are CB1 (expressed mainly in the brain and nervous system) and CB2 (expressed in the gut, immune system and stem cells).

It’s important to keep in mind that CBD, which doesn’t make you “high”, increases the amount of endocannabinoids in the body. So, using a strain high in CBD means you'll experience a soothing sensation that goes hand-in-hand with a little bump n' grind, but none of the brain buzz you'd encounter with strains high in THC. CBD also inhibits the activation of CB1 receptors, so it can counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. A good thing to remember if you find yourself feeling too high.

Meanwhile, psychoactive THC works by mimicking the body’s own endocannabinoids, and binding itself to CB1 receptors. The primary endocannabinoid molecules are called 2-Ag and anandamide. And guess what anandamide is also known as?

The bliss molecule. Enough said.

Incorporating THC or CBD into your play facilitates everything from a relaxed mood to the release of tension in the body. The fact that our body already produces these compounds means its always ready for a little top up to heighten these sensations. You'll probably want to experiment with strains to see which best address your needs, and below we've offered suggestions to get you started on your trip. Happy travels!

Story by Odessa Paloma Parker with notes from Herb
*Van der Pop ‘Women and Weed’ study, September 2017

Van der Pop does not endorse or condone the illegal consumption of cannabis.

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