Hormonal System and Reproduction
The effects of cannabinoids on endocrine and neuroendocrine function and on hormone release are well documented. Some of the earliest work reported the effects of long-term smoking of cannabis on the reproductive endocrine system of the human male15,l6,21,22 and, later, the female. Because cannabinoid-induced alterations in hormone levels might affect reproductive function, i.e., fertility and libido, of males and females, there was considerable interest to pursue this area of research. More detailed information was obtained from animal studies which have confirmed findings in the human, as well as ascertained important information on the site and mechanisms of cannabinoid action with respect to their reproductive and neuroendocrine modulatory effects. There has been less focus in humans and animals on how short-or long-term exposure to cannabis affects endocrine parameters other than the reproductive endocrine system (i.e., stress axis, thyroid, and other metabolic hormones). However, the profound effects that cannabinoids have on the brain and its neurotransmitters, and the hypothalamus and pituitary hormone secretion, would suggest that the endocrine system as a whole is potentially vulnerable to direct or indirect cannabinoid action.