Alia Volz grew up in San Francisco in the 70’s and 80’s with a mother famous for selling her pot brownies. Alia recounts her experiences and what she later learned
Cannabis and Sex | Libido, Orgasms, Products, and More Featuring SXSW Speaker Jillian Tuchman MS, RDN
Jillian Tuchman of Work Your Genes is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Reiki healer, master iridologist, and herbalist. Jillian also happens to be an expert on medicinal cannabis and regularly trains and educates physicians on its clinical use. For this special Valentine’s Day podcast we wanted to ask Jillian a few questions about cannabis and sexual wellness.
Jillian, you Clearly Have an Incredible Set of Skills and Credentials. Can You Tell us About Your History and How You Came to Acquire all of This Unique Knowledge?
Like most things in life, it was an incredibly circuitous route, certainly not at all linear. I was actually an English major. I thought I was going to heal the world with children’s books, that was what I was really passionate about. I never thought much about health or anything like that.
Shortly after I graduated from college I started having bizarre symptoms, everything from debilitating fatigue to night sweats to tremors – things that weren’t making sense. I was going to all these different doctors, and basically, they’re like, ‘oh well you probably have MS, or we think it’s lupus or actually you’re just crazy maybe you need to see a psychiatrist.’ You go through that, and you start doubting yourself and thinking maybe you are crazy! That was going on for a few years, and around the same time, my mom on the radio had heard a functional medicine doctor speaking. The doctor was an M.D., but with a more holistic approach (and this was before the world is the way it is now where functional medicine and wellness is kind of everywhere).
She said, ‘the center is in New York, please go.’ This was the first time I’d ever been spoken to a human being in a doctor’s office. He spent a lot of time with me and hey had found out that I had undiagnosed chronic Lyme disease that was basically in my brain for about 21 years. They also found undiagnosed celiac disease and a connective tissue disease. He had me work with a dietician on staff. Up until then, I’d really never thought much about food other than, ‘is it delicious or is it gonna make me fat?’ I thought I had a very long healing journey ahead of me, but within three or four weeks of this intense regimen diet and a really smart supplement regimen, I started feeling a lot better.
I started learning about all these other things and getting my feet wet with healing herbs and all these modalities. I started learning Reiki which is Japanese energy medicine. This entire world opened up to me. I didn’t even know it was there. After a few years of that, I was like, ‘I really I want to do this, I want to figure out how I can make this happen.’ I went back to grad school for four years as an English major, got a master’s degree in science and become a registered dietitian. Ironically enough I ended up falling in love with science and I learned different healing modalities that I’ve really been able to combine and create a hybrid of.
You Talked About What Drew You to Plant Medicine With Your Illnesses, What Drew You to Cannabis as a Healing Plant?
I fundamentally believe (obviously a generalization) that people usually end up finding the medicines that they need whether they know it or not. As an extreme example, maybe the coke addict actually has ADHD and has never been medicated and actually feels calmer when he’s on coke because it’s a stimulant. Obviously, an extreme example. Whether or not it’s healthy, I think people ultimately are led to what helps them function better or more optimally in the world. I was diagnosed with ulcer colitis when I was eight years old which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. Throughout high school, young people would drink alcohol, and I didn’t like it. What I know now is that’s actually one of the most harmful things that you can do when you have ulcer colitis. But whenever there would be a joint, I would try some and I really liked how I felt.
Throughout college, I started googling the history of cannabis. All of a sudden I was reading that for many years, centuries, thousands of years, Cannabis has literally been growing on every continent and has been used in pretty much every ancient healing system. Yet, it was consistently underestimated, sidelined, politicized. As someone who ended up being an English major and as a big sports fan I ended up interpreting this as the greatest underdog story that was ever told. I was instantly hooked to the story and learning more about it, and I dove deep. I started learning and realizing all these medicinal factors and qualities. I started talking to individual researchers who study it exclusively and talking to them and begging to sweep the floor in their lab to do whatever they wanted and just learning more about it as a great healer.
It’s an unbelievable plant and I think it’s something that everyone no matter what their political leanings are should really feel gratitude and grateful that it exists because I believe we are just only starting to learn how potent and magical – for lack of a better word – it really can be. So my first initial love and attraction to cannabis was really the story of it aside from my own personal experience.
Cannabis and Sexual Wellness – Such a Vast Topic. In Your Opinion, Can Cannabis Help Increase Libido in Women or Men?
I think everyone who has experienced cannabis would say that’s an absolute yes. It absolutely can. Scientifically we do not have a hard objective study to point to that although that’s changing and it’s currently being studied. Libido is actually an exciting thing to study because libido itself is actually subjective in a lot of ways. It can be different for every person. It’s hard to measure, but cannabis absolutely can increase libido both in women and in men. What we do know, is that it’s dose-dependent, meaning the amount of arousal, the amount of increased libido is going to depend on how much and of what you smoke.
We were talking before about cannabis being used in various traditions throughout history – it’s actually in folk medicine traditional textbooks as an aphrodisiac. So, fundamentally in terms of folk medicine, it’s definitely considered an aphrodisiac. We also know scientifically that people who use cannabis actually have more sex. That could be for a lot of reasons: maybe cannabis increases libido, maybe people who smoke cannabis experience less pressure and anxiety in their lives and if they’re experiencing less pressure and anxiety they might not have as many performance hangups. We don’t necessarily know the mechanism of action as to exactly why scientifically it increases libido. But we do know for the most part that it does.
What we do know is that the endocannabinoid system is a system throughout our body that functions basically like a system of locks and keys. Our body produces these chemicals called endocannabinoids that attach to these receptors and make our body work. It’s been hypothesized that people who struggle with things that cannabis is known to help with – pain, nausea, fibromyalgia, migraines, stuff like that – might actually have a deficiency in the manufacturing of their own cannabinoids. And by supplementing an exogenous source through cannabis, they’re actually bringing their bodies levels up to where it should be. So they’re actually operating more optimally. Endocannabinoids are actually involved in the regulation of pleasure, pain, and relaxation. When activated, cannabis certainly can contribute to sex and arousal, experiencing pleasure, experiencing pain, and being relaxed.
Can Cannabis Make the Actual Act of Sex More Pleasurable?
The answer is yes. Anyone who has smoked – or has used cannabis – can attest to the fact that your senses are heightened. The act of sex is a very sensual experience, and if you then have an exogenous substance that’s adding and contributing to that being more heightened you’re going to increase sensitivity, you’re going to increase arousal, you’re going to increase pleasure.
On top of which, THC actually targets the brain which directly affects orgasms and that release. We know scientifically that – we have evidence to support that – it actually enhances the sexual experience in both men and women. What that means for the individual can be varied. A lot of women have reported that they reach climax either more easily or more fully. That obviously, is a more pleasurable experience.
Are There Specific Products That You Would Recommend to Try This Valentine’s Day?
There’s a brand out of California called Foria. They have 2 brands. One for pleasure which is only sold in California because it has THC in it and I think one for your wellness which sold everywhere. It’s mostly just CBD. They really did a smart thing, and they created a THC: CBD lube with the hypothesis being, if I’m applying topically some THC which can increase blood flow and circulation, then this can actually elevate a sexual experience because you’re radically increasing the sensitivity and nerves and blood flow to a woman’s clitoris. That is something that I would encourage people to experiment with. Of course, anytime you’re using a lube that is oil based – latex condoms are not sufficient.
Apothecanna makes a really great lotion for arousal. I think it’s actually CBD so I think it’s available everywhere. There is a brand Dosist that I really like out of California. They make an arouse pen where they chose a perfect blend of both terpenes and THC to CBD ratio to create a really great experience for sexual pleasure. So those are some products related to sexual health and wellness that I would recommend.
I’m Curious about specific strains or THC CBD blends that might be better or worse for using for sex?
Well, it’s exciting because you also want to decide what kind of sex you want to have. Whether it’s an introspective conversation with yourself or a discussion with your partner, do you want to be having slow romantic candlelight sex? Or rip your clothes off, I can’t wait any longer sex? What kind of sex do you want? The mood that you’re in before each of those is probably going to be very different. So if you were looking for this slow, really hot, passionate candlelit sex, I’d probably go with indica. I really like a strain called Yumboldt. Give that one a Google or find it on Leafly.
Anything with a ratio of THC to CBD, like a Northern Lights is going to be just great to increase your arousal, be very present, and increase your sensory experience. If you’re looking for that sex where you just need to rip their clothes off right now honestly choose – this is where we can talk about something a little bit different – pick one that is high in terpenes pinene and lemonine because both of those terpenes work with the cannabinoids to really increase a feeling of being alert and present and focused. If you’re someone who experiences anxiety in life or before sex or with a new partner, choose one that’s a has higher CBD. Like the Harlequins, the sour tsunami, the ACDCs, the canatonics.
If you find you’re anxious, or you think that you’re too high – remember you can always take a full dropper full of pure CBD oil and that will help to bring you back down.
Do you have any CBD brands that you trust?
There’s a small one (and full disclosure he is a friend of mine), but I really believe in the product, named Lilly CBD out of New York. They source from a very close organic farm out of Vermont. Another really high-quality product is named Juna which I think is out of California. I also like a brand name, Rose. Out of New York, there are a few good ones. And your listeners can absolutely please feel free to e-mail me or send me a direct message on Instagram with any questions. There’s so much out there and honestly, there’s a lot of junk out there. It’s tough to sift through, and unfortunately, the stuff is expensive, so it’s tough to say experiment with.
Find a good source, I’m happy to be a source to guide you. Really try to be president mindful of what you’re experiencing right because a lot of times whether it’s CBD or other types of supplements, we’re taking things and we’re not really invested in feeling our body. So we’re not present with our body and all of a sudden two weeks later we say, ‘well I don’t notice anything’ but are you even paying attention? So figure out something measurable that you want to try to experiment and see if this is helping with it and it’s not, this isn’t witchcraft. Plants have been used forever to heal people and they can really just really really powerful, great things. So, definitely invest in yourself by finding some excellent products and allow your body to heal and change and evolve and just enjoy it.
Are there any medicinal plants that maybe if people weren’t comfortable with cannabis or even CBD – are there other medicinal plants out there that people could experiment with this Valentine’s Day?
A lot of us, of course, know chocolate. People forget that that’s a plant. If you get some a really high percentage like 75 or higher percent chocolate, you’re really leaning a lot into the cocoa, and we know that it has a lot of chemicals that interact with various neurotransmitters that also can stimulate arousal. That’s certainly one that I would not underestimate. Maca is a root that has been used as an aphrodisiac for a while, and it actually can add a real nice umami depth of flavor that you can experiment with cooking with it or even baking with it. Devil’s claw is a good one. There’s damiana.
Again going back to what I said about intention and setting, you don’t need cannabis to have a beautiful, amazing sexual experience. You can use non-psychoactive herbs to elevate your sexual experience too. Create a ritual and experience around it where you’re heightening the senses so that anything that you’re adding is probably just going to increase it. You can still elevate your senses and elevate that experience by choosing your intention and setting right.
Just enjoy, take pressure off of yourself just allow yourself just to experience a moment. Don’t put pressure on Valentine’s Day or not. Just enjoy your body, enjoy your partner’s body. If you don’t have a partner, literally enjoy your body, just go to town. Do whatever you want to feel good and just feel proud of the body that you’re in.
Jillian’s going to be speaking at SXSW, which is a huge very well known conference in Austin, Texas in March. Is Jillian there anything you wanted to say about that?
We’re really excited! We’re speaking on that Friday on March 15th at 11:00 a.m. and we would love to see you all there.
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