These days, it's normal to find a bottle of hemp oil tucked away in someone's nightstand. The plant extract is well known for its ability to ease stress and prepare the body for bedtime.* But there's another reason that you may spot a bit of the product in the boudoir; hemp oil and its active compounds like CBD may be helpful for revving up one's sex life.*
Here's what the research says about the potential benefits of using hemp oil for steamy sex, and how to get started.
Hemp oil benefits for sex.
Off the bat, it's important to note that there haven't been any rigorous scientific studies investigating whether hemp products enhance sexual pleasure. What we do know is that they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS)—a master regulatory system that has receptors all around the body. By activating these receptors, hemp can have health benefits that help make sex more approachable and pleasurable, such as:*
As we've covered on mbg before, negative, stressful thought patterns can be a barrier to great sex. If your mind is still stuck on an upcoming work commitment, it'll be hard for you to be fully present with your partner. That's where phytocannabinoids (plant bioactives) like CBD in hemp products can come in.
"Several studies have shown that when taken orally, CBD can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol1. It can also act in the brain, working on the serotonin system and the GABA system, which are both related to anxiousness and stress levels2," explains Julie Moltke, M.D., a medical doctor with a focus on mental health and the author of A Quick Guide to CBD. "By interacting with these neurotransmitter systems and the stress hormone cortisol, CBD is able to lower stress."*
Promoting body comfort.
"There is research to show that we have a lot of endocannabinoid receptors in our reproductive organs and in the skin as well," says Moltke. So it'd make sense that taking an oral hemp supplement or even applying hemp oil directly to the skin could potentially activate feeling and enhance pleasure in these areas. However, more research needs to be done to validate this theory.
Even if it doesn't have any meaningful impact on pleasure, though, hemp-infused oils and gels can act as beneficial lubricants—and they may even leave your skin feeling healthy once the deed is done too.*
Hemp, by law in the U.S. contains less than 0.3% of THC, so none of these products will make you feel "high" or mess with your mental state in the heat of the moment.
Hemp oil for men.
Everyone will have a different experience with hemp products, and what works for you might not work for your partner. Depending on your gender, body composition and hormone levels might also make hemp hit a little different. (There is some research to show that women feel the effects5 of hemp more acutely than men—especially in the days leading up to ovulation6).
That being said, Moltke notes that there is no good research to demonstrate that the benefits of hemp oil significantly differ between men and women.
The best types of hemp and hemp-derived CBD for sex.
Oral hemp oil: Full-spectrum capsules, tinctures, or edibles
One easy (and mess-free) way to introduce the benefits of hemp into the bedroom is to take an oral hemp oil supplement—either a capsule or tincture—before showtime. Moltke notes that you can expect these to take about 30 minutes to an hour to kick in.
Hemp capsules like mindbodygreen's calm+ supplement allow you to be more exacting of the dose you're taking (more on that below) than tinctures and edibles do. Also, hemp capsules are no mess, easier on the go, and free of sugar. But whichever form you go for, Moltke recommends opting for a full-spectrum product.
Unlike isolates that only contain cannabidiol (CBD), full-spectrum products contain the full range of the beneficial compounds of the hemp plant. "You'll get a more enhanced effect from these different active molecules than you would from one ingredient alone," she explains.
Physician assistant Jon Mitchell, PA-C, M.S., adds that "hemp plants should be 100% organically grown to minimize exposure to pesticides. Look for European Union–certified organic agricultural hemp, which has strict purity standards," Mitchell wrote on mbg (including stricter THC limits than the U.S.).
Topical hemp oils
You can also incorporate oils and gels with added CBD into your bedroom routine. These can be applied directly to the skin as a lubricant or massage oil. As with all sexual lubricants, it's best to use these sparingly at first and work your way up once you get a feel for how your body reacts to it. (Stop using immediately if you experience discomfort or irritation.) Practice safe sex hygiene and keep a towel nearby, as oil-based lube can also stain your sheets.
How to use them.
Here are a few fun ways to start working these products into your routine:
Hemp oil dosage and risk factors.
When working with any new hemp product, Moltke recommends "starting low and going slow." If you're consuming it orally, she recommends beginning with a dose of around 15 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD and gradually working your way up from there. "I see no reason to start with a very high dose," she says.
While clinical consensus is lacking on hemp CBD dosing, she's found in her practice that most people experience the intended effects of hemp-derived CBD in these low-to-mid dose ranges, and that few clients require high doses (e.g., 60-plus milligrams of hemp-derived CBD).
While hemp is safe for most people, even at higher levels, she notes that pregnant and breastfeeding women will likely want to avoid it due to the lack of systematic safety studies during those life stages. Those with a heart condition and those taking blood thinners will also want to use caution. It's always best to consult with your health care provider before introducing anything new to your routine—even if it's just the occasional hemp capsule to get in the mood.
While everyone will have a different experience with hemp products, there's anecdotal (and some scientific) evidence that they can help enhance sexual pleasure—or at least diffuse any nerves you're bringing into the bedroom. After all, nothing is sexier than confidence, no?
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.