It is difficult to know precisely how many compounds exist in the marijuana plant. Research suggests there are at least 480, anywhere between 66 and 100 of which are classified as ‘cannabinoids.’ These special compounds interact with certain receptors in the central nervous system. CB1 and CB2 are the two cannabinoid receptors that have been identified to date.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the most famous marijuana compounds. It is known for being non-intoxicating, a stark contrast to the effects of THC which gives users a ‘high.’ While THC offers a number of medicinal benefits, it is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
CBD, on the other hand, also provides an array of medical benefits and it is widely used by breastfeeding women. However, while it doesn’t provide a ‘high,’ there are some concerns over its suitability for women who are breastfeeding. In this guide, we look at the available scientific evidence to see if CBD will harm or help your new baby.
Why would new mothers need CBD oil in the first place?
Data regarding the number of women that suffer from PPD is limited, but the Cleveland Clinic estimates around 15% of new mothers will experience it at some point.
Furthermore, only a small percentage of women receive treatment for their PPD. As a result, many women with PPD find it more difficult to bond with their babies or care for them adequately. Furthermore, PPD can even impact the child’s psychological development, and lead to a higher risk of mental illness later in life.
The trouble with drugs & breastfeeding
With so much at stake, it is little wonder that women with PPD are seeking an all-natural solution to their condition. The most common treatment, aside from counseling, is anti-depressants. Popular drugs include Sertraline, Zyban, and Lexapro. As well as taking several weeks to have an effect, these drugs can result in side effects such as insomnia, dizziness, weight gain, and diarrhea.
Although newer anti-depressants are designed not to interfere with breastfeeding, the selection of pharmaceutical options breastfeeding moms have is limited. If you have an adverse reaction to one drug, there may not be another option available.
Did you know that breast milk naturally contains cannabinoids?
Given the lack of relevant research, one of the most significant findings of the last decade in this sphere is the fact that cannabinoids are found naturally in human breast milk. Several studies have confirmed that breast milk contains the same cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant and they are crucial for proper human development.
Cannabinoids in utero
Since the biggest concern about CBD and breastfeeding is its impact on the milk, and therefore the baby, it is worth looking into research regarding cannabinoids and pregnancy.
Endocannabinoids are crucial in conception. The newly fertilized embryo has to attach itself to the uterus’ lining after intercourse, which requires a certain amount of anandamide, an endocannabinoid. They also guide other aspects of conception, like embryo transport.
Why is it so difficult to determine the impact of CBD on breast milk?
By far the biggest issue surrounding the use of CBD while breastfeeding is the lack of scientific research conducted on nursing mothers. Research by the American Chemical Society suggests that since CBD binds so closely with fat, it is very difficult to measure the amounts contained in breast milk. All cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, like to stick to fat — and breast milk is quite high in fat.
Breast milk is naturally high in fat, and therefore is a good carrier for CBD and other phytocannabinoids.
However, researchers at the CDC believe they have the answer in the form of a process called ‘saponification,’ which separates cannabinoids from milk. They believe it will be possible to detect tiny amounts of CBD in breast milk in a test set to be 100 times better at detecting cannabinoids than previous tests. Eventually, this technique should help in future studies that look at how CBD impacts breast milk.
Is CBD worth the risk for breastfeeding mothers?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, women with PPD often have problems breastfeeding. CBD may be able to help you through PPD, but there isn’t enough information available to determine how it will impact your breast milk and your baby.
When using CBD, understand that not all products are the same
If you do decide to use CBD oil, it is worth pointing out that not all products are the same. In fact, given the current lack of regulations on the market, disparities in quality, potency, and general effectiveness can vary greatly.
There are several things you can look for to try and identify a good, high-quality CBD oil. The most important one is making sure the company offers a lab report for the product you’re using. In addition to verifying the CBD content, a lab sheet will verify the presence of other phytocannabinoids, as well as the absence of potentially dangerous chemicals like solvents and heavy metals.
It is generally easier and more convenient to view verified lab reports online than it is when buying from a retail store. Most reputable online CBD sellers have a specific page dedicated to their products’ lab sheets, and some of them even link to the relevant report directly in the product description.
If you do prefer to buy from a store, be sure to ask whether or not the CBD oil comes with a lab analysis. If it doesn’t, we recommend searching for another brand or another product.
Lastly, remember that CBD oil should not be considered a medication. While cannabidiol is an FDA-approved medication for various forms of epilepsy, the products available online or in-store are mostly sold as supplements. These products are not evaluated by the FDA, and are not intended to treat or cure any medical condition. Bear this in mind if you do decide to use CBD oil (or other CBD products) while breastfeeding.