In recent years, a cannabis component called CBD (also known as cannabidiol) has become very popolar among large parts of the population. CBD is now mainstream! But can CBD be taken during pregnancy?
Fans of the chemical claim it effectively helps deal with insomnia, chronic and joint pain, anxiety, epilepsy and so much more. Manufacturers sell it in many forms, and CBD stores have popped up all over the place, online and in real life, offering a wide variety of CBD products: from the classic flowers to smoke to lotions, gummies, sprays, oils and creams. With the fast spreading and increase in popularity of CBD products, use of cannabis by pregnant women has been growing in the United States and other countries such as Canada in recent decades.
A 2019 analysis of over 450,000 American women by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found cannabis use in pregnancy more than doubled between 2002 and 2017. Now, many are wondering whether it’s safe to take CBD while pregnant. The short answer is probably not. In this article we will explain why. Do you have more questions related to CBD, THC and what they do? On the hempati blog we will try and answer them.
What is CBD
As always, let’s start from the basics. CBD is a chemical compound that comes from the cannabis plant known as hemp. Another version of cannabis produces marijuana. CBD is not the only chemical found in the cannabis plant. Another one, THC (also known as tetrahydrocannabinol) is what gives marijuana its intoxicating and psychoactive powers. It’s also what gives you the munchies, a drug or alcohol induced craving for food (in particular junk food). CBD is not THC: it will not make you feel high and it will not give you the munchies, so it’s safe to take at home, work or elsewhere. Just be sure that you are consuming high quality products, start very low with the dosage and listen to your body. Another good idea is to talk to your doctor (or doctors) first. Last tip: smoking it in a crowded place could be risky: after all, legal CBD flowers are virtually indistinguishable from marijuana ones, so they could cause you some problems with the police.
Can I consume CBD while pregnant?
If you are pregnant and you are asking yourself if it’s safe to take CBD based products, the short answer is probably no. Currently, there are well-documented complications from using marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding. These include increased risk of babies experiencing brain development issues, difficulty growing in the womb, low birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth. But we are talking about CBD, not THC. The problem is marijuana has undergone substantial research, but CBD use during pregnancy has not been sufficiently medically reviewed. Not yet.
While we don’t know about side effects of CBD during pregnancy, we know about CBD side effects in the general population, including decreased appetite, diarrhea, feelings of sleepiness, liver damage, mood changes such as irritability, unwanted interaction with other medications. These are dangerous side effects in general, but they are worse if the person experiencing them is pregnant, because they can cause unwanted complications and problems in an already delicate moment for your body and mind. Stay safe!
Does CBD affect the fetus?
We talked about the mothers. Now let’s talk about the fetus. Does CBD affect them? In what ways? Why? Same problem still stands: we don’t have enough studies and research on the matter. However, in early tests high doses of CBD affected the fetuses of pregnant animals. Specifically, developing male fetuses’ reproductive systems suffered harm. It is unknown if similar injury might occur with human pregnancies. Pregnant women who were exposed to cannabis products that contained THC and CBD were more likely to have children with increased fat mass and blood sugar levels at age 5, a new pilot study found.
In the United States, the FDA is planning to learn more about the effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including, for example, whether and to what extent the presence of CBD in human milk harms the breastfed baby or the mother’s milk production. In Italy, with our spotty and incomplete legislation, we are far from discovering the truth. But we can always read the results from studies and research made overseas.
Another reason to avoid CBD while pregnant is the potential impurity of the substance. Regardless of what the label says, CBD products may include a variety of unwanted contaminants. CBD oil, lotion, foods and other products, in the United States, are not regulated by the FDA. As a result, CBD manufacturers have little oversight. This may result in CBD that contains bacteria, fungi, pesticides or heavy metals. Always check the quality of the product and its certification. Additionally, CBD may contain THC. One study published in JAMA found that 18 of 84 CBD products purchased online contained the substance. In those same products, 26% had less CBD than advertised. With so little CBD included (some products contained had less than 1%), no potential benefit remained, just possible complications. You have to decide if it’s worth it for you or not.
To date, it’s unclear how CBD could affect unborn babies and their mothers. It’s also unknown whether the negative side effects of CBD can get passed through breast milk. Researchers hope to find answers to these questions and more soon. Until researchers find those answers, the FDA recommends against using any type of CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. Of course, our suggestion is to talk to your obstetrician before trying any of these products.