Cannabis, or components of it, could potentially play a role in treating male infertility; but it’s a double-edged sword.
While the human race is not exactly in danger of going extinct due to reproductive issues, infertility can be a stressful issue for those afflicted and affects up to 15% of couples globally . Male factors account somewhere between 20-70%.
Previous studies have suggested smoking marijuana can interfere with male fertility, but a report published in the April 2016 issue of the FASEB Journal states scientists have found a cannabinoid receptor, called “CB2,” plays a role in the regulation of the creation of sperm.
Cannabinoid receptors are part of the human endocannabinoid system. It’s been well- established that the endocannabinoid system helps control processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.
Researchers at the Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, School of Medicine at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Rome, Italy treated three groups of mice for 14 to 21 days with three different agents.
One group received with a specific activator of the CB2 receptor, another an inhibitor and the third group, used for control, just a saline solution.
The group treated with the CB2 activator showed an acceleration of spermatogenesis (sperm creation), while the group administered the inhibitor demonstrated a slower rate of the process.
“This suggests that a tight balance of CB2 activation is required for the proper progression of spermatogenes,” according to a press release from the journal.
“That the normal beneficial effects of endogenous cannabinoids on spermatogenesis can be stimulated further by a chemical mimic, an agonist, is a potentially promising new idea for treating male infertility,” said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.
The journal abstract can be viewed here.
CB2 receptors are present in the brain, in the peripheral tissues of the immune system and the gastrointestinal system
According to Wikipedia, CB2 was cloned in 1993 and the discovery of this receptor helped provide a more thorough explanation for the effects of cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannibinol on the immune system.
CB2 receptors may also have possible therapeutic aspects in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, and play a role in antinociception, or the relief of pain.