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CBD For Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

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Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it does come with a lot of unpleasant experiences as your body changes to grow a baby. Expectant moms can expect changes in mood, extreme sleepiness, morning sickness, aches, and pregnancy-related anxiety. Unfortunately, many of the common over-the-counter medications you may have taken before pregnancy are no longer safe options.

CBD is the latest trend in self-care and people are using it for everything from anxiety relief to pain management. Some pregnant women are wondering if it's safe to use CBD products to make their experience much more comfortable.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is the main non-psychoactive component in the cannabis plant that has been shown to support many of the conditions listed above in many preclinical studies However, as promising as CBD may seem, experts don't recommend CBD use during pregnancy.

In this article, we'll dive into CBD's effects, possible risks, and why you should avoid CBD use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Key Takeaways: 

  • CBD is a non-psychoactive compound has become a popular compound derived from hemp plants to support many wellness goals from healthy stress levels, stress, and managing discomfort. 
  • While CBD is found to be safe for most people, it's not considered safe to use while pregnant or breast feeding. 
  • There aren't enough studies to verify the safety of CBD's effects on developing human fetuses and infants. Some animal studies have found that exposure to high doses of cannabis cannabinoids have led to higher risks of low birth weight and miscarriages. 
  • The FDA and health care professionals recommend you do not use CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. 

What Are The Potential Benefits Of CBD Use?

Researchers continue to investigate the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD and other cannabis plant cannabinoids, as well as their potential side effects.

So far, CBD is considered safe and well-tolerated in most individuals. However, there aren't any studies related to CBD and pregnancy in humans as it's not ethical to conduct these studies.

That being said, let's look at the recognized benefits of CBD, and why many people turn to it as a gentle and effective compound.

1. CBD May Support Pain & Discomfort

There are many people who swear by CBD's benefits towards pain relief without the nasty side effects of many prescription pain killers.

Right now, there are no CBD-based medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for pain relief. There is one FDA-approved CBD pharmaceutical called Epilodex available but it's used to treat rare forms of epilepsy.

There are studies that have investigated CBD for chronic pain with promising results. Canada and parts of Europe have approved CBD-based drugs for cancer pain and for mitigating the side effects of chemotherapy [1].

2. CBD May Support Nausea

Nausea typically starts with an uneasy feeling in the stomach, followed by the urge to vomit. There are many things that can cause nausea, and the way to settle nausea is to figure out the underlying cause.

In animal studies, CBD oil and other cannabis compounds have been found to support nausea through multiple pathways, including regulating serotonin that plays a role in regulating the nausea control center in the brain (medulla oblongata) [2].

3. CBD May Support Stress & Sleep

One of the most common complaints about restless nights is stress—your body may be exhausted, but you can't seem to shut off the chatter going on in the mind. CBD has been shown to work on GABA receptors in the brain, which is the main mechanism for slowing down neurological activity from stress and anxiety, which may help some people drift off to sleep easier [3].

There was one recent three-month study conducted on 72 human subjects who had experienced anxiety and insomnia. The study found that the group who took CBD oil consistently experienced reduced stress levels and saw an improvement in their overall sleep quality within the first month of the trial [4].

Is CBD Oil Safe? What Are The Potential Side Effects Of CBD

High-quality CBD products are considered safe and well-tolerated for most (non-pregnant or breastfeeding) individuals, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have side effects.

The side effects associated with CBD oil are mild and temporary and they can be mitigated by taking the appropriate dosage with the guidance of a health care professional.

Some of the side effects of CBD oil to look out for include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Negative prescription drug interactions

In addition to CBD—other ingredients in CBD products can cause adverse effects. Poor quality CBD oil derived from hemp grown with pesticides or contaminated soil may contain trace amounts of toxins that can lead to irritation and discomfort.

CBD Is Not Considered Safe For Pregnant Women

Muscle and joint aches, nausea, and high-stress levels are all common experiences with pregnancy, but the FDA strongly advises against CBD use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

While CBD doesn't have psychoactive effects or very serious risks (in most non-pregnant individuals), there just aren't any reputable studies to understand the benefits and side effects of CBD use during pregnancy.

And this is for good reason—studies of the effects on a developing fetus and pregnant test subjects are not ethical.

Will CBD Affect A Developing Fetus?

High doses of CBD in pregnant test animals have led to developmental toxicity, embryo-fetal mortality, low birth weight, and central nervous system inhibition and toxicity in developing male fetuses [4]. This doesn't necessarily solidify that the same could result in human fetuses. However, the FDA strongly advises against maternal cannabinoid exposure to err on the side of caution when it comes to fetal health.

Can CBD Transfer In Breast Milk?

Breastfeeding mothers should abstain from cannabinoid use. FDA experts believe that traces of CBD will be transferred through breast milk.

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the evidence on the effects of CBD exposure to an infant through breastfeeding is limited and conflicting.

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are fat-soluble and stored in body fat, and experts hypothesize that these compounds can be released over time to the infant through breastmilk. If a mother consumes a poorly made CBD oil that contains other contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, or other bacteria, it could be dangerous for the mother's milk production and the infant. The FDA strongly advises that CBD-containing products should be avoided while breastfeeding to stay on the safe side.

Can I Eat Hemp Seeds While Pregnant?

Hemp seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and fatty acids and make an excellent topping in smoothies, yogurt, and salads.

Hemp seeds and cannabinoids come from different parts of the hemp plant. Hemp seeds do not contain cannabinoids, as cannabinoids are found on the resin on hemp and marijuana flowers.

The FDA conducted an evaluation on the potential risks of hemp seeds with pregnant and breastfeeding mothers found that it was safe for consumption.

Seek Support For Pregnancy-Related Discomfort From Your Health Care Professional

It's normal to experience some discomfort during pregnancy. However, if you are finding that the discomfort is impacting your daily life—it's important to know that you don't have to go through it alone. Seek support from your health care professional, who can provide you with advice on how to manage your pregnancy discomfort without posing a potential risk to yourself and your baby.

Your doctor and prenatal team can help you find safe and natural remedies to ease muscle aches and pains. It's advised that you have regular check-ins with your doctor and keep them updated with your physical and mental symptoms, so they can recognize early signs of complications should they arise.

The Takeaway: CBD Not Recommended While Pregnant Or Breastfeeding

Health organizations strongly advise against marijuana use during pregnancy, but this caution also extends to the non-psychoactive hemp plant and its cannabinoids.

CBD has become immensely popular in the health and wellness space as a natural way to support a myriad of health goals. However, the scientific community advises against using cannabis products while pregnant or breastfeeding. Comprehensive research on animals found complications with fetal complications with high doses of CBD.

These animal studies don't mean that the same will result in human fetuses, but it's highly unethical to conduct these studies on humans, which is why it's best to stay on the safe side and avoid CBD use during pregnancy.

You should always consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement or medication to protect you and the baby.

Resources:

  1. Boyaji, S., Merkow, J., Elman, R. N. M., Kaye, A. D., Yong, R. J., & Urman, R. D. (2020). The role of cannabidiol (CBD) in chronic pain management: an assessment of current evidence. Current pain and headache reports, 24(2), 1-6.
  2. Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1411-1422.
  3. Bakas, T., Van Nieuwenhuijzen, P. S., Devenish, S. O., McGregor, I. S., Arnold, J. C., & Chebib, M. (2017). The direct actions of cannabidiol and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol at GABAA receptors. Pharmacological research, 119, 358-370.

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