Cannabis is the most popular and well-loved herb of our time! Especially now that it is becoming legal, it is being sold nearly everywhere. CBD, a compound of cannabis, is being marketed as a miracle that can solve nearly all your health problems. But what if you're breastfeeding? The question of the hour is, should you or shouldn't you take CBD Oil when you are breastfeeding? Today on Apothecary Wisdom, we are talking all about cannabis and CBD Oil while breastfeeding. Watch the full video if you want up to date information about the risks and benefits of CBD Oil during lactation.
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Right off the bat, I don't make, sell, or represent any CBD company, and I am not a doctor. What you do with this information is your personal responsibility.
CBD Oil and Breastfeeding
As a breastfeeding mother, you already know how mindful you have to be about everything you consume. There are certain foods, drinks, and herbs that you should avoid, but what about CBD oil? Should you avoid it while breastfeeding?
CBD oil has seen a surge in popularity due to recent changes in legality and marketing budgets that glorify it's health benefits. CBD's list of potential benefits for postpartum and breastfeeding mothers include:
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Improved sleep
- Inflammation and pain relief
- Increased appetite
- Antidepressant properties for postpartum depression PPD.
All these conditions are real-life challenges that new moms face. So, if CBD oil could help a new mom cope with them, then it's definitely worth looking deeper into!
The primary question is…but is it safe for a nursing baby?
Research about how CBD oil interacts with the human body is an ongoing process, and due to ethical constraints, it's difficult to directly study CBD oil's effects on breastfeeding mothers and their babies. But, just because the studies are limited, it does not mean that there is no information available. I want to share the most up-to-date information with you about the use of CBD oil while breastfeeding.
I will say, I own more than 20 herb books. The vast majority omit cannabis completely. A few books do mention marijuana as a drug and only mention it's psychoactive properties. Another small group of books talks about cannabis in such a vague way that it's hard to get real information about the plant. Or they mention things that are outlandish and are not really helpful.
Another thing worth mentioning is, now that CBD is a popular and very lucrative commodity, pages upon pages on Google are simply info ads for their products. It was hard for me to find anything negative about CBD other than it lacks sufficient research. I found a shortlist of negative side effects: dry mouth, fatigue, drowsiness, feeling light-headed, dizzy, low blood pressure, and possible liver medication interactions.
Concerns About Consuming CBD Oil While Breastfeeding
It goes without saying that the use of any substance, even natural ones like herbs and CBD oil, can raise concerns for breastfeeding mothers. Here are 3 of the most common questions new mothers ask about if they should try CBD oil.
1-Will CBD Oil Get Me High?
Absolutely not! The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, including tetra hydro cannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), both interact with the body's endocannabinoid system. While both THC and CBD have therapeutic properties, they are different in one key way: THC produces a psychotropic or intoxicating affect—the "high"—and CBD does not.
Because CBD does not have psychotropic effects and will not get you high, it's becoming more widely accepted and used to treat various ailments, including inflammation, anxiety, and insomnia. People of all ages, races, classes, religions, genders, and cultures turn to CBD Oil.
2-Does CBD Oil Pass-Through Breastmilk?
By far, the biggest concern surrounding the use of CBD oil while breastfeeding is the lack of scientific research conducted on nursing mothers due to ethical reasons. Research by the American Chemical Society suggests that all cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, like to stick to fat — and breast milk is high in fat. Since CBD binds so closely with fat, it isn't easy to measure the amounts contained in breast milk.
And "pumping and dumping" doesn't work for cannabis products, as chemicals from cannabis that entered the body days or weeks before breastfeeding can still be found in breast milk. In fact, other research published in the journal Pediatrics found that low levels of THC may be found in breast milk for up to six days after smoking cannabis or eating an edible.
Research has shown that THC passes through breast milk and can have a negative impact on infants and should be avoided. The FDA strongly states that THC is contraindicated for lactation and should be avoided. And most medical doctors agree that THC is not appropriate for breastfeeding.
However, the effects of CBD oil on newborn babies are not yet known, and CBD oil has not been shown to be unsafe for adults and children.
The best answer is that there is still no conclusive evidence that states that if CBD is safe or unsafe, always speak to your naturopathic doctor or midwife before using CBD oil if you are breastfeeding!
I do want to say this, despite the lack of published research, we know that women have used cannabis for thousands of years. Yes, THC and CBD are expressed in breast milk, and we need to acknowledge the fact that women have used, do use, and will continue to use cannabis for a very long time.
We do not have enough research to make claims one way or another on how cannabis affects breastfed babies. Yet, we do know that cannabis is a medicine that has been explicitly used for pregnant and breastfeeding moms for millennia. We should understand that empirical evidence can be used as a reasonable hypothesis about the use of cannabis for pregnant and breastfeeding moms.
3- Will CBD Effect My Milk Supply?
A major concern that many breastfeeding mothers have is about their milk supply. The research does not directly address this, nor does it reveal any concerns that CBD will harm breastmilk supply. This is my personal opinion, from what I can see, since cannabis is not a galactagogue, it will not increase your supply directly. If you need to increase your milk supply Let There Be Milk! is the herbal supplement you need. However, indirectly, CBD may even support or improve your milk supply. I base this opinion on how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system.
Understanding the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ES) is a part of our biology. It's composed of endocannabinoids, which are naturally occurring endogenous lipid-based neurotransmitters that are located throughout the nervous system, including the brain. We are just beginning to understand that the endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in our body's function and overall well-being. The endocannabinoid system maintains a number of important body functions, including:
- Mental health and wellness
- Nutrient transport
- Energy storage
- Immune function
- Regulation of stress
- Pain perception
- Conception, fertility, pre-post natal fetal development
When CBD enters the human body, it binds with the receptors within the endocannabinoid system and helps boost the endocannabinoids your body is already producing and may improve their functions.
Did You Know That Breast Milk Contains Endocannabinoids?
One of the most significant findings of the last decade is that several studies confirm that cannabinoids are naturally occurring in human breast milk. Yes, you heard right – breast milk is already chock-full of cannabinoids crucial for your baby's proper human development.
Endocannabinoids are incredibly important for babies' development because they help stimulate the process of suckling and promote appetite, teaching newborns the vital process of eating and getting essential nutrients. It has been widely observed that babies who drink breast milk are calmer after feeding due to the release of endocannabinoids and hormones such as oxytocin, prolactin, and lactogen. All of which are pleasure molecules.
Why Would a Breastfeeding Mom Consider Using CBD Oil?
The uncertainty around CBD oil and its impact on nursing infants may be enough for some mothers to avoid it completely. And if that is you, that is totally okay! We have lots of CBD alternatives that will help you in the same ways. While others are more comfortable to try it.
New moms go through so many physical, psychological, and emotional changes and challenges after giving birth, all of which are compounded by the lack of sleep and hormonal shifts. Taking care of yourself and a new baby is a lot of work and requires support. Let your family, friends, and herbs support you breastfeed your baby.
Here are a 3 ways CBD can support you:
1-CBD Oil Increases Appetite in Breastfeeding Mothers
As a breastfeeding mom, you know that you need extra calories to make enough milk for your baby. Many women struggle with low appetite and have a tough time getting those extra 500 calories they need daily. Without an adequate intake of calories, new mothers may experience fatigue and unhealthy weight loss, and low milk supply. Studies have shown that certain CBD oil strains can increase your appetite, helping you get the extra calories you need. For healthy breastfeeding snacks that support an ample supply of breastmilk, check out this blog.
2- CBD Oil is A Natural Remedy for Anxiety and Depression
CBD may be helpful for the staggering number of new moms and breastfeeding mothers struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety. Studies suggest between 15% of women struggle with these challenges, though the actual number could be much higher.
Women with postpartum depression often find it more difficult to bond with their babies or provide them with adequate care, potentially impacting their milk supply and the child's psychological development, leading to future problems.
Often, when women bring these symptoms to a doctor's attention, the prescribed "solution" is an antidepressant, like Lexapro or Zyban. Once these drugs finally take effect weeks after the first dose, they can come with a host of side effects. While newer antidepressants have thankfully been formulated so they won't interfere with breastfeeding, these drugs simply aren't guaranteed to work. For new mothers without the financial means to obtain these antidepressants, PPD can be debilitating.
One amazing way CBD oil has been found to reduce depression is through its impact on anandamide, a neurotransmitter, and naturally occurring endocannabinoid called the "bliss molecule." Anandamide plays a key role in the experience of joy, happiness, and motivation. CBD oil acts as an anandamide reuptake inhibitor, which means it increases the amount of anandamide available in the brain. For mothers with PPD, the increased amount of anandamide in the brain could decrease the limiting, heavy effects of postpartum depression.
As a midwife and fellow human, I'm committed to giving you more practical tips, lifestyle changes, meditations, and other herbs that support you if you are suffering from postpartum depression. Please check them out so you can feel like yourself again.
3- CBD Oil Reduces the Production of Cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone triggered by stress and may prevent you from coping with stress, having a strong immune system, and healthy sleep.
Again, this is a multifactorial issue, and CBD oil can be a helpful component. I want to remind you that all of my videos, blogs, and podcasts are committed to the big picture of health. That includes nourishment, mindset, support. We have lots of videos on our channel that can help you sleep better, cope with stress, and improve your immune system.
Is CBD Oil Right for You?
As an herbalist, I want to highlight how amazing the cannabis plant is, and I want to remind you that it is one of many. There is a pantheon of amazing herbs for women's health, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Many have been studied and are known safe. Fortunately, there are lots of options for relief of the common issues that new moms face.
Ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether to use CBD oil or any other herbs while breastfeeding. Discuss this with your midwife and a naturopathic doctor specializing in using CBD for medical treatment and breastfeeding advice.
Alright, my friend, I hope this video helped you understand a little more about the risk and benefits of CBD oil and breastfeeding and our body's own amazing endocannabinoid system!
Read our other postpartum, breastfeeding, immune support, stress relief, and ways to get great sleep blogs!
Hug your sweet baby, and remember to let your love and your milk flow!