The scientist behind Viagra is developing weed lube for women

Female consumers have known cannabis makes sex sexier for a while—and now Pharma wants in

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Weed’s sexy side effects are no secret, especially amongst Millenial women. Its blood-pumping, mood-enhancing, inhibition-dropping properties have been the fodder for Sunday brunch sex talks, ladylike podcasts, and gossip columns for years—thousands, if you dig up references in historical texts.

A 62-year-old urologist and expert on sexual disorders in Los Angeles just figured it out, and it might be the endorsement needed to make weed lube mainstream.

Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan co-led the research behind the male sexual performance drugs Viagra and Cialis, but has recently pivoted to focus on the organ most often ignored by the conventional drug industry. Joining Manna Molecular Science—a Massachusetts-based cannabis pharmaceutical company—as chief medical officer in December, his goal is to develop cannabinoid-infused gel women can apply to vaginal tissue before sex.

It’s important to note that Padma-Nathan can't take any credit for inventing weed lube. In Canada, there are a handful of well-established businesses specializing in bedroom-friendly cannabis products for both men and women.

While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-infused topicals are not yet included in the country's new legal framework, it hasn't stopped companies like Vancouver-based Miss Envy and High On Love in Montreal from satiating market demand with their popular infused sex oils and creams. In the United States, Foria was one of the first to set a high standard when they developed Awaken—an award-winning cannabis-infused arousal lubricant designed to make “orgasms fuller, more intense, or easier to access”.

Some companies have found other ways to make weed work its magic between the sheets—like Dosist's dose-controlled, THC-forward vape pen, Arouse, intended to “enhance your excitement naturally”. The device was voted one of the top 25 inventions of 2016 by Time Magazine.

While female-targeted sex products already exist in the cannabis industry, and are well-backed by the growing demographic of curious consumers, the one thing preventing weed lube from breaking beyond the “green bubble” is validated research. 

Padma-Nathan says he intends to fill the gap by applying more scientific rigour to developing Manna's gel than that required of most natural supplements.

Manna’s ceo Nial DeMena told a Boston Globe reporter the company decided to explore sex topicals when their female customers reported using cannabis-infused transdermal patches to reduce pelvic discomfort during sex. The rising demand is no shock considering the starck lack of arousal products designed for women.

For men, sex enhancing drugs have been available since the late 90s. The little blue pill, Viagra, went to market in 1998. When it comes to the equivalent for women, only one drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Addyi, the little pink pill designed for pre-menopausal women, was approved in 2015. The drug, unfortunately, has a low success rate and comes with side effects like fainting and nausea—which, as it turns out, isn't much of a turn-on.

Padma-Nathan believes the discrepancy is because improving sex for women, unlike men, is not as easy as boosting blood flow.

“Men are more simplistic than women,” he said in the article. “Our sexual response cycle is linear, starting with desire, arousal, and orgasm. Women are more complex.”

Recent studies show, when it comes to sex, weed works for women is because it tackles a litany of issues all at once: reducing pain, distractions, and anxiety, while simultaneously increasing sensitivity, arousal, and the ability to orgasm. 

In the report, Padma-Nathan said he does not intend to approach developing a cannabis-infused gel as a drug, rather a “sexual enhancement”. This means it doesn’t need to pass through lengthy clinical trials or seek approval from the FDA.

Padma-Nathan and his research team at Manna are currently testing both cannabidiol (CBD) and THC on animal vaginal tissue and hope to have a low-cost product in the market this summer.

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