Mesearch Blog involves the use of biometric sensors in a scientific exploration into how cannabis improves athletics, sleep, sex, and creativity.
Mesearch Blog is the personal website of Nathaniel Morris. Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer. It is not intended for anyone under the age of 19.
Nathaniel Morris is not a doctor and is not providing medical advice. The information provided is Nathaniel’s opinion and provided for entertainment purposes only. Nathaniel makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about anything related to mesearch, and expressly disclaims liability should anyone attempt mesearch.
Talk to your health care professional before attempting any mesearch experiments.
What is Mesearch?
Mesearch, or autoethnography, is when someone uses their personal experiences to tackle scientific questions. With biometric sensors now widely available, it has never been easier for people to scientifically test how different cannabis products are affecting them.
Mesearch blog is intended to help people take a more scientific approach to exploring cannabis. It’s about using science to hack your body’s response to cannabis. The goal of mesearch is different from formal medical research. You are not trying to get your findings published in a peer-review journal. You are just trying to find the cannabis products and dose that work best for you.
The key to good mesearch is using objective metrics like a heart rate monitor in conjunction with subjective metrics, like your personal impression of the experience. You should be methodical about the products you try, and incremental about the doses you take. Do your best to be consistent about your cannabis experimentation routine, and always remember to establish baselines.
Over time you see patterns. You can try to chart a dose-response curve to find the ideal products and dose for you. Once you have a little practice, it’s easy to test any cannabis product to learn how it affects you. And that's when things get really interesting.
Understanding your own biomechanisms is incredibly empowering. Exploring cannabis while wearing biometric sensors has a way of demystifying your mind and body. Do you want to see what cannabis products and what dose are best to help you sleep? Mesearch is how you find out. Do you want to find a cannabis product that won’t put you to sleep? Mesearch can help you with that too.
Ignore the Indica/Sativa label
There is a common misconception that Sativa is uplifting and Indica is sedative. Every effort to look at this scientifically has debunked it entirely. Genetic testing has shown much of what we had believed about cannabis is wrong. Nearly all modern cannabis cultivars are hybrids.
Different cannabis plants do affect people differently, but these differences are not related to this Indica / Sativa distinction. With biometric sensors like heart rate monitors, you can reliably see how cannabis is affecting you, so you can go ahead and ignore the Indica Sativa label on the package.
Rythem is the cannabis supper power
The idea that rhythm is the cannabis supper power first occurred to me in 2016, when Adam Safron from Indiana University Bloomington published: What is orgasm? A model of sexual trance and climax via rhythmic entrainment. The article explains the parallels between the biomechanics controlling orgasm and the biomechanics controlling seizures. It does not reference cannabis at all, but it was transformative for my cannabis mesearch. Because some of the things that cannabis is best known for is its ability to treat seizures, enhance music, as well as improve sex, and creativity, I speculated that what these all have in common is rhythm, and rhythm is the cannabis superpower.
"Orgasm is one of the most intense pleasures attainable to an organism, yet its underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. On the basis of existing literatures, this article introduces a novel mechanistic model of sexual stimulation and orgasm. In doing so, it characterizes the neurophenomenology of sexual trance and climax, describes parallels in dynamics between orgasms and seizures" "a model is introduced wherein sexual stimulation induces entrainment of coupling mechanical and neuronal oscillatory systems, thus creating synchronized functional networks within which multiple positive feedback processes intersect synergistically to contribute to sexual experience. These processes generate states of deepening sensory absorption and trance, potentially culminating in climax if critical thresholds are surpassed. The centrality of rhythmic stimulation (and its modulation by salience) for surpassing these thresholds suggests ways in which differential orgasmic responding between individuals—or with different partners—may serve as a mechanism for ensuring adaptive mate choice."
For people with seizure disorders, certain rhythms of flashing lights are often all it takes to induce a seizure. Other forms of rhythm, including sound and touch, can also induce seizures. It’s not well understood why CBD and other cannabinoids can be so effective at controlling seizures. My research suggests that the explanation also centers around rhythm. In the brain, seizures often originate in small, localized areas where neurons abnormally fire in unison. This rhythmic activity can have a cascading effect, disrupting proper brain functions and causing seizures.
The biomechanics of this phenomenon is called rhythmic entrainment. Rhythmic entrainment generates states of deepening sensory absorption and trance, These deepening states of trance can potentially culminate in a seizure, but only if critical thresholds are surpassed.
Rhythmic entrainment goes far beyond seizure disorders; it affects a lot of human behavior. It refers to any time a person experiences a trance-like state through rhythmic stimuli. When I say ‘trance-like state’ I don't mean being hypnotized by a creepy guy swinging a watch. It can often be a subtle type of trance, like the feeling of listening to great music with a group of friends.
In order to understand how cannabis affects rhythm, it’s helpful to consider how humans came to be so affected by rhythm in the first place. Scientists believe music originated as a human fighting behavior. Have you ever noticed that every time soldiers go into battle they bring music? It’s a military best practice because humans feel connected by a shared rhythm and it helps them work together.
The combination of cannabis, rhythm, and fighting goes back to our early ancestors. Humans have probably always used music when they felt threatened. Rhythmic Entrainment is a primal mechanism to support fighting as a team. That feeling of connectedness that comes from a group hearing the same rhythmic beat is how our ancestors were able to work together to fend off large predators.
The capacity for cannabis to enhance our sense of rhythm is likely what attracted our ancestors to cannabis in the first place. Music is an example of Rhythmic Entrainment that originates from another more primal example: sex. Just as with seizures, with sex, rhythmic entrainment generates states of deepening sensory absorption and trance. These deepening states can potentially culminate in a climax, but only if critical thresholds are surpassed. The threshold points are not static, so they can be challenging to recognize.
The key to getting the most from cannabis is understanding how cannabis can help you modulate these threshold points in the Rhythmic Entrainment processes. That’s what I mean when I say you can hack your body’s response to cannabis.
The human mind has limits to how much information it can process at once. When we focus our attention, like aiming a spotlight at something, the spotlight is not pointed elsewhere. When cannabis enhances the sense of emersion in an activity, think of it as increasing the brightness and focus of this spotlight. Intensely focusing on "in the moment" sensations such as those produced by rhythmic stimulation reduces the amount of mental capacity available for other things. The types of brain function that get crowded out include the ability to model the self in the past or future. This is often experienced as a pleasurable trance-like state. If this trance-like state is experienced in the presence of others who are also experiencing trance-like states, it tends to lead to an experience of connectedness.
While the media loves to make jokes about lazy stoners eating Doritos, studies show the rates of obesity among people who do not use cannabis are consistently higher than among those who use cannabis.
The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions found that 22% of non-users were obese, compared to 14.3% of cannabis users.
The National Comorbidity Survey found that 25.3% of non-users were obese, compared to 17.2% of cannabis users.
A larger Australian study had similar findings “The existing data suggest lower prevalence of overweight and obesity among young adult cannabis users.”
You can use a standard heart rate monitor watch like a Fitbit to help you test how various cannabis products and doses affect your workout. Cannabis use for athletic applications falls into two categories. The first is cannabis products taken before a workout, and the second is cannabis taken for recovery/sleep.
An example of the first category would be an experimental training routine on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, done at the same time each day. The Wednesday session should be cannabis free to serve as the baseline. On Monday and Friday, you would try various cannabis products and doses. For all three sessions, heart rate monitors should be worn.
Based on how the product affects you, you may choose to incrementally try more or less of certain products and doses. Generally speaking, cannabis is not a performance enhancer in the traditional sense. It does not make you stronger or run faster. I think that the reason so many athletes now use cannabis is that it enhances the experience of engaging in athletic activity, and it can improve recovery. An analysis of 37 studies concluded that approximately 1 in 4 athletes report using cannabis within the past year.
Another study that surveyed 1,274 athletes found that 25% used cannabis regularly. They reported that "Athletes who use a combination of THC and CBD exhibited the most benefit to well-being and calm with minimal adverse effects"
Athletes often report a euphoric trance-like state associated with their sport of choice. The sport itself often has a rhythm associated with it. Music may also be part of the experience. The trance-like state is sometimes referred to as being in the zone. Others call it the runner’s high. Martial artists sometimes refer to this as achieving a state of no mind.
Some team sports allow athletes to achieve a shared experience of rhythmic entrainment, creating a sense of connectedness. Again, I think that all of these are examples of rhythmic entrainment, and rhythm is the cannabis superpower.
Whatever your athletic activity of choice is, reflect on when you experience a trance-like state. That feeling of immersion in the activity is what cannabis can help enhance. Detecting these trance-like states with a heart rate monitor is hit or miss, so also take care to note the times you have these experiences.
A study showed that 51% of people who use recreational cannabis report that it helps with relaxation and sleep. Another study found “Preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia.” Heart rate monitors are great for measuring changes in your sleep cycle. Sleep experiments are simple: you consume a specific amount of a specific product and then note how it affects your sleep. The heart rate monitor can show you how long you slept. Seeing how low your heart rate gets and for how long is a pretty good metric for how deeply you are sleeping.
Start by establishing a baseline. A baseline just means you can see what your sleep cycle is without cannabis, and then see how the various products and doses alter your sleep cycle. Purchase a variety of cannabis products and try them, one at a time, before bed. Start with lower doses and incrementally increase. For example, you may choose to start with 2.5mg of THC before bed. If you find that you tolerated that well, the next night you can try 5mg, and then 7.5mg, and so on.
Over time you can see how the escalating dose is impacting your sleep cycle. Typically, at first, there is a clear pattern where higher doses are correlated with longer deeper sleep. At some point, more is no longer better. And finding that point is helpful to know when planning your cannabis routine.
As you keep using cannabis, you build up a tolerance, so it's good to keep retesting, to see how tolerance is affecting your ideal dose. The same methodology can be used to determine if CBD is helping you sleep, and what ratio of THC and CBD is best for you. Note that CBD often seems to require higher doses than THC, so plan your experiments accordingly. If you have high CBD products and high THC products you can mix them to achieve any ratio you want to test.
Different methods of administration like drinks, vapes, soft gels, edibles, and extracts can all be tested. The method of administration has a profound effect on your experience, so testing different options is ideal.
One study found that 19% of people who use recreational cannabis report they consume cannabis for an improved sex life. A study examining the association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States found : "A positive association between marijuana use and sexual frequency is seen in men and women across all demographic groups.”
The vast majority of the published research relates to cannabis improving female sexual experiences. One study conducted by a team at Saint Louis University School of Medicine found that “Of the 373 participants, 34.0% reported having used marijuana before sexual activity. Most women reported increases in sex drive, improvement in orgasm, decrease in pain, but no change in lubrication. After adjusting for race, women who reported marijuana use before sexual activity had 2.13 higher odds of reporting satisfactory orgasm”.
Another much larger study done by Standford University examining data on 28,176 women averaging 29.9 years of age and 22,943 men whose average age was 29.5. Found that ”pot users are having about 20 percent more sex than pot abstainers” “Moreover, the positive association between marijuana use and coital frequency was independent of demographic, health, marital or parental status.” “In addition, coital frequency rose steadily with increasing marijuana use, a dose-dependent relationship supporting a possible active role for marijuana in fostering sexual activity.”
Scientists have even discovered the underlying biochemical link between cannabinoids and female sexual functions. “Results: In study 1, masturbation to orgasm significantly increased plasma levels of the endocannabinoid 2-AG, whereas anandamide, oleoyl ethanolamide, palmitoyl ethanolamide, arachidonic acid, and cortisol levels were not altered. In study 2, only masturbation to orgasm, not the control condition, led to a significant increase in 2-AG levels. Interestingly, we also found a significant increase of oleoyl ethanolamide after masturbation to orgasm in study 2. “ ”Our data indicate that the endocannabinoid 2-AG is involved in the human sexual response cycle and we hypothesize that 2-AG release plays a role in the rewarding consequences of sexual arousal and orgasm.”
Healthy humans are sexual, so it is not surprising that our sleep cycle and our sexual biomechanisms are closely related. It is common for people to use orgasms to help them fall asleep. Cannabis has been shown to have the ability to help with sleep, and also the ability to improve sex and intensify orgasms. The two go hand-in-hand, so your mesearch experiments will work better if you include both. For this reason, when you are conducting sleep mesearch, I encourage you to also wear your heart rate sensors during any sexual activity and pay attention to how cannabis is affecting you.
Typically you can see an escalating pattern where the heart rate decreases at first, as you relax and switch gears. Then it increases incrementally. A climax is generally easy to see as a spike in heart rate.
Professional athletes often use a chest strap heart rate monitor like a Polar chest strap because it offers richer data. Watches use optical sensors to see the blood flow. They are not able to detect sudden increases and decreases in heart rate. The chest strap measures the electrical signal in the heart and is, therefore, able to get a much clearer picture. With the help of a chest strap monitor, it’s easy for both men and women to use mesearch to test how cannabis is affecting your sexual experience. You can try various cannabis products and see how long it takes to achieve orgasm once sexual activity begins. You can see how long the orgasm lasts and how intense it is compared to your baseline. And you can see if any cannabis products help you to have multiple orgasms or whole-body orgasms.
For both men and women, you can typically see a pattern consistent with rhythmic entrainment in any sexual activity. The heart rate escalates, but not in a straight line. There is a pattern where you pass threshold points on the path to climax. These threshold points are not static; they can change. It's these threshold points that some cannabis products appear to modulate. Rhythm is the cannabis superpower after all.
One of the best biometric sensors for sex mesearch is the Lioness smart vibrator. Engineered by women for women, it uses a biometric sensor inside a vibrator to measure rhythmic contractions on the pelvic floor. These contractions often show a pattern consistent with rhythmic entrainment. Like with a heart rate monitor, you see a clear pattern including the passage of threshold points leading to climax. The thing that makes the Lioness so powerful for mesearch is that it can show each individual’s orgasm rhythm. These rhythms have patterns, known as an orgasm pattern.
An orgasm pattern is not the same thing as an orgasm type. Orgasm types are categorized as clitoral, vaginal or blended, a classification system that is somewhat dubious. Orgasm patterns, on the other hand, are about a rhythmic pattern of contractions on the pelvic floor. For sex researchers, measuring these rhythmic contractions is considered the most accurate method of tracking female orgasms.
Almost immediately after the Lioness hit the market people began conducting cannabis mesearch experiments using it. Lioness has a fantastic blog, and they post feedback from users about how cannabis impacts orgasm patterns. The discoveries posted on this blog are truly groundbreaking. They used good mesearch methodology and demonstrated that some cannabis was able to intensify orgasms and change orgasm patterns. Orgasm patterns are rhythmic, and rhythm, again, is the cannabis superpower.
For best results, I recommend using the Lioness in combination with a Polar chest strap heart rate monitor. Use of the heart rate monitor should start prior to cannabis consumption and continuing throughout the night’s sleep. Combining the two data sets gives you much greater insights.
For some truly next level mesearch, the Emotive 14 channel EEG is an amazing tool. This neuroimaging system lets you see brain activity. The 3d images it generates are incredible, but it’s hard to know what to do with the data it generates. Using it in combination with the other sensors gives the data context. I am fairly sure that I am able to detect the trance-like state that cannabis mesearch centers around by looking for rhythmic patterns and synchronizing patterns in the brain using the Emotive EEG. This can be difficult to identify and act on now, but I’m working on technology to make it easier.
Studies have shown that 24% of people who use recreational cannabis report increased creativity/expressiveness. Scientifically analyzing how cannabis is affecting your creative process is perhaps the most challenging form of mesearch. Creativity is not something that is easily quantified. It is undeniable that cannabis use is notorious among artists and creative people.
“The best way I could describe the effect of the marijuana and hashish is that it would make me relaxed and creative.” Steve Jobs
Researchers studying creativity have coined the term creative flow state. Creative people often develop individual systems to help them think creatively. The specifics vary wildly, but there is a pattern of behavior that creative people adopt to help facilitate their creativity.
People tend to intuitively find a process of achieving a creative flow state. I think that it is not so different from other trance-like states. Creative thought processes tend to be immersive, not unlike the martial artist's idea of no-mind, or the athlete’s sense of total immersion in the activity.
Some cannabis appears to help people access their creative potential. I think that the explanation for this is that cannabis helps people achieve a creative flow state, in much the same way it helps with the rhythmic entrainment process. One study found “while cannabis users appear to demonstrate enhanced creativity, these effects are an artifact of their heightened levels of openness to experience.”
There is a rhythmic component to a creative flow state, and rhythm is the cannabis superpower. Once you know to look for it, the observation jumps out at you. Most creative people prefer music, tap their feet, or otherwise exhibit rhythmic motions while engaged in creative thinking.
The first step to this type of mesearch is to create your own idea of an ideal creative workplace and routine. Reflect on times when you have felt at peak creativity in the past. Think about how you can recreate the conditions that are typically present, and do your best to structure a routine that makes time for creative work. Think of this as your mesearch laboratory.
Wear a heart rate monitor and go through your creative thinking routine without any cannabis to establish a baseline. Creativity mesearch is hit or miss, as it is not quantifiable, but you know it when you experience it. And you know it when you don't. See if there is any difference in your heart rate during your most successful sessions and your least successful, those times when your creative output is flat.
People often find that some cannabis products and methods of ingestion allow their minds to race. For some people this is an unpleasant experience; for others, it is the best possible outcome. Make an effort to be self-aware of how you are responding to the cannabis, and pay attention to any rhythmic component to your response.
Even for people who find cannabis enormously helpful for their creative process, typically some things work better than others. Some cannabis products, methods of ingestion, and doses will have a pattern of not helping at all. As you methodically test different cannabis products you can look for these patterns. With time you will have enough data to make some good predictions about what is most likely to be helpful, and what you should avoid.
Please let me know how mesearch works for you!
In closing, I want to be clear that I am not a doctor and this is not intended to be medical advice. For those of you who are going to be using cannabis anyway, I hope that you are inspired to take a more scientific approach.