MythPuffers: What’s The Deal With Stems And Seeds?
We all know what it’s like to spend 60 bucks on a disappointing eighth of weed that’s way too stemm-y and chock full of seeds. While it’s not only a hassle to de-seed and de-stem the sub-par product, what you’re left with once your eighth is gone seems entirely useless — but somehow you convince yourself to save it all anyway.
It’s been posited by some potheads that seeds and stems contain no THC, taste like shit, and will make you sick or even infertile. More positive stoners, on the other hand, have faith in the byproducts’ heightening abilities and promote the smoking, drinking, and planting of stems and seeds. Obviously when it comes to drugs like marijuana, everyone reacts to these things differently, but that, my friends, is how legends are born. This week’s MythPuffers is seed-and-stem-centric — focusing on not one but three common myths and questions surrounding the two little things potheads dread most.
One of the more popular ways to rid of seeds and stems is to smoke them — un-ground in many cases. One myth that has spurred from the smoking of these stems and seeds is that they will negatively affect your fertility. What? That’s right — some people believe that smoking stems in particular will lessen a male’s sperm count and damage a woman’s ovaries.
While this may seem ridiculous at face value, according to BBC News, a study at Buffalo University has linked chronic marijuana smoking to a lower sperm count among males. Head researcher Dr. Lani Burkman claims that THC is “doing something to sperm” — something which makes the little guys swim too fast so that they end up getting tired before finishing the job. In terms of female fertility, however, results from a separate study are inconclusive.
While this may not be great news for all the pot head dudes out there, it turns out smoking stems and seeds doesn’t really matter because smoking weed in the first place is what affects sperm count. Therefore — since smoking stems tastes disgusting and your sperm is going to die anyway — why not consider something like stem tea?
Not only is stem tea easy to make but, also, if done correctly ,it’s a great way to get rid of saved stems. While some might believe that stem tea is a sham after learning last week that THC is not water soluble, there are several recipes available on the Internet (like this one) which suggest steeping your pot in something fatty, like milk, or for the hard-core tea drinkers, something alcoholic. Although stem tea will not produce a high as strong as one from smoking — leaves, not stems — there are traces of THC in the stalks and thus drinkers will experience mind alterations if the beverage is prepared correctly.
Now that your stems have been taken care of, what about your seeds? One of the most popular myths — or hopes rather — is that planting seeds found in dumpy weed will grow into beautiful marijuana plants.
It probably comes as no surprise that, yes, by planting seeds found in shake, it is possible to grow marijuana plants. While this seems like an attractive idea in theory, what many stoners don’t realize is the time and effort that goes into cultivating reefer. Especially if you’re living in New York, as a college student, there’s nowhere in the city a plant would have access to proper soil and enough sunlight to prosper — this, of course, is a lot for any smoker. Despite the fact that potheads aren’t of the most responsible breed, if your weed is shitty in the first place, why would you even want to reproduce it?
Of course, there are many other ways to deal with pesky stems and seeds that are possibly more affective and slightly more reasonable than stem tea and planting seeds. Green Dragon, for example, is a notorious weed, stem, and seed concoction that MythPuffers will be investigating in the coming weeks — so stay tuned.
Effects of Cannabis on the Male and Female Reproductive System, and Fertility
Use of cannabis may affect human fertility, depending on gender, general health, socioeconomic status and several other factors. Here, we look at existing research on cannabis and human fertility, in order to provide readers with an accurate, up-to-date summary of the current state of scientific knowledge.
To understand how cannabis may affect fertility, we must understand the effect it has specifically on males and on females. We’ll start by looking at the effects on the male reproductive system, and then focus on the more complicated effects on female fertility.
Cannabis use and male fertility
Some studies on the effect of cannabis use on male fertility have indicated that regular use may reduce spermatogenesis (the production of sperm in the testes) and testosterone levels.
In 2012, the American Society of Andrology published a review of research on the effects of illicit drug use on male fertility. The researchers found that in the majority of studies, it was consistently concluded that cannabis use had a negative impact on male reproductive physiology.
Another study in 1992 (Vescovi et al.) found that levels of luteinizing hormone(LH), an important pituitary gland hormone involved in reproductive function, were reduced in male chronic cannabis users compared to a non-cannabis-using, age-matched control group. A previous 1986 study (Cone et al.) also found a significant reduction in LH levels immediately after smoking cannabis.
And an even earlier study (Kolodny et al, 1974) into testosterone levels in “chronic” cannabis users found that 6 of 17 subjects had oligospermia (low sperm count), and that average testosterone levels in the cannabis-using group were just over half that of the control group. The effect of cannabis on testosterone levels was observed to be dose-dependent.
Sexing Cannabis: Is My Plant Male or Female?
The endocannabinoid system and male fertility
Clearly, the endocannabinoid system has a role to play in the regulation of processes critical to male reproductive health, such as sperm count, testosterone levels, and levels of other key hormones such as LH.
For healthy adult males, it seems that use of THC does indeed cause some negative effects on fertility, which tend to increase with higher doses. However, THC’s endogenous analogue anandamide appears to be critical to the functioning of the male reproductive system.
The 2002 study found that sperm cells would bind to the agonist CP-55,940, demonstrating the presence of CB1-receptors. The study also concluded that the presence of THC and a synthetic anandamide analogue, AM-356, both reduced sperm motility in vitro. Interestingly, it was found that AM-356 exerted a biphasic dose-dependent effect on sperm motility, causing inhibition at high doses but hyperactivity at low doses.
Anandamide and the “capacitation” of human sperm cells
In a 1994 study, it was found that mammalian sperm, including that of humans, is actually incapable of fertilizing oocytes (eggs) immediately after leaving the testes. It requires a period of exposure to certain crucial hormones, enzymes and proteins on its journey through the vas deferens and ejaculatory ducts of the male reproductive system (as well as the reproductive fluids of the female vagina and oviducts) before becoming “capacitated” and able to fertilize an egg.
The 2002 study provides strong evidence that the presence of the anandamide in the seminal fluid, and its ability to bind to the CB1-receptors of the spermatozoa, are key to the “capacitation” of sperm cells on their way to the ejaculatory ducts. It has to be present in the appropriate concentrations, though. If the level of anandamide is too high, it can instead have a dramatic inhibitory effect on the sperm cells’ ability to fertilize oocytes.
How Does Cannabis Affect the Digestive System?
Why is anandamide beneficial, while THC may not be?
Although THC and anandamide are both agonists of the CB1-receptors, they greatly differ in structure and therefore have different effects on certain metabolic processes. Anandamide has a much shorter half-life than THC (just a few minutes for anandamide compared to as long as 24 hours for THC). So while anandamide will degrade shortly after it contacts a receptor, THC can remain in nearby adipose tissue for much longer periods, and can continue to stimulate the receptors, ultimately causing overstimulation and potential negative effects.
As is so often the case with cannabinoid science, dosage is everything—and it may prove to be the case that very small doses of THC could benefit males who have reproductive issues that can be tied to low levels of anandamide.
Cannabis use and female fertility
While the effect of cannabis use on male fertility appears to be quite straightforward—with male chronic cannabis users being likely to experience some degree of impairment to reproductive physiology—the effect on the human female reproductive system is less clear-cut.
Female reproductive health is vastly complex in itself, as it not only comprises the ability to become pregnant but also the ability to carry healthy offspring to term and successfully give birth.
Past research has indicated that cannabis use may disrupt the menstrual cycle, suppress oogenesis (production of eggs in the ovaries) and impair embryo implantation and development. Chronic use of cannabis has also been repeatedly associated with lower birth weight (as much as a 50% increased risk), decreased birth weight and early (spontaneous) termination of pregnancy.
However, most of these findings are far from conclusive. Either the study included very few participants or confounding factors such as tobacco use aren’t taken into consideration. In fact, more recent research, like this review on infants who were exposed to marijuana in-utero, concludes there aren’t any adverse risks.
For example, a 1985 paper on foetal abnormality (Qazi et al.) after prenatal exposure to cannabis discussed five infants whose mothers acknowledged use of cannabis prior to and during pregnancy and who were born with various symptoms of growth retardation, neurological dysfunction and deformity. While it may provide helpful insight, such a small sample size is far from being enough to draw concrete conclusions, and correlation does not imply causation.
Other studies seen as providing evidence that cannabis use can cause foetal abnormalities are animal studies (Geber & Schramm 1969, Phillipset al, 1971) in which rabbits, hamsters, rats and mice were injected with vast doses of crude cannabis extract (as much as 666mg/kg in one instance!). Such massive doses of cannabis would be practically impossible for a human to consume through conventional means, and are essentially useless as a point of comparison.
In fact, many early studies that indicated a correlation between use of cannabis (or other controlled substances such as cocaine) have been later contradicted by findings suggesting that socioeconomic status and level of poverty are far more causative of low birth weight and poor developmental outcome than use of the substances themselves. This doesn’t imply that use of cannabis or other substances during pregnancy has no adverse effect, but does give weight to the idea that the risks have been overestimated and overemphasized due to politics and anti-drug bias.