Is it safe to use CBD to treat the symptoms of pregnancy?
The research on THC and pregnancy is mixed, but what about CBD products?
CBD and pregnancy is a popular yet controversial topic. Many people want to know if it’s safe to use CBD for nausea, morning sickness, pain, and migraines associated with pregnancy. Plus, weed is the most popular “illicit” substance used by expecting mothers. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 5.3 percent of pregnant women smoke cannabis. But what about CBD oil without any THC? Is CBD and pregnancy safe?
CBD and Pregnancy 101: What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, and it’s the second most prominent cannabinoid in the marijuana plant after THC. Unlike THC, however, CBD is non-psychoactive and, thus, doesn’t get users “high.” What CBD does provide is many of the medical benefits of cannabis, including:
- Pain and inflammation relief
- Stress relief and relaxation
- Nausea and gastrointestinal relief
- Appetite stimulation
- Sleep Aid
- Seizure and tremor control
Cannabidiol is able to help with so many different bodily functions because it interacts with the body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS helps to promote homeostasis, or balance, in the body and plays a role in many functions including mood, immunity, and pain perception. In fact, the endocannabinoid system even plays a critical role in fetal development.
CBD’s recent popularity is, in part, due to its accessibility. CBD products, like oils, capsules, lotions, and edibles, that are derived from hemp plants with 0.3 percent THC or less are available in all 50 states. These CBD products can be ordered online or purchased at “CBD stores” which are popping up around the U.S.
What distinguishes these products from CBD products sold in cannabis dispensaries is that they are not derived from marijuana plants, which the DEA considers a Schedule I substance. Plus, hemp-derived CBD products must, by law, have 0.3 percent THC or less (many don’t have any THC) and so they don’t intoxicate users like products high in THC would.
What does the research say about CBD and pregnancy?
As of now, there aren’t any human studies exclusively on CBD and pregnancy. However, the anecdotal information about CBD and pregnancy is growing fast. Many expecting mothers rave about CBD’s ability to help with morning sickness and nausea, as well as with pain, inflammation, trouble sleeping, and relaxation.
There have been a couple of studies that looked at CBD’s effect on the placenta, in vitro. They both found that CBD can change the physiological characteristics of the placenta, making it more malleable, which is potentially dangerous for the fetus. However, many have pointed out that these findings could be different in actual women because researchers were applying CBD to the placenta constantly over 24 to 72 hours. Actual expecting mothers taking CBD would be doing so at much smaller doses, spaced out across longer periods of time.
Most studies on the effects of cannabis on pregnancy focus on THC, even though there haven’t been a ton of these either. A 2018 study in Colorado found cannabis use while pregnant seems to be associated with low birth weights. According to the study, “prenatal cannabis use was associated with a 50 percent increased likelihood of low birth weight, setting the stage for serious future health problems including infection and time spent in neonatal intensive care units.”
However, other studies have failed to find any negative consequences of using cannabis while pregnant. For example, a 1994 study conducted in Jamaica failed to find any significant differences in newborns exposed to cannabis in-utero versus those who were not. What’s even more astounding, this study also followed up with the children, and at one month the researchers found the children exposed to cannabis were better off. They outperformed their “non-exposed” peers on “autonomic stability, quality of alertness, irritability, and self-regulation.”
So, is CBD and pregnancy safe?
At the end of the day, there is some risk in exposing your baby to any new, foreign substance. As Project CBD points out, because of the crucial role the ECS plays in fetal development, neural development, and the survival of the newborn, there is a risk in adding phytocannabinoids, like THC or CBD, to the developing brain’s endocannabinoids. However, the truth is, mothers have been using cannabis during pregnancy for decades and most have reported that their children are absolutely unaffected.
It’s a big decision for a mother to make, and it’s wise to consult a doctor on CBD and pregnancy, even though they’ll likely tell you there’s not enough research for them to advise you either way. For many women, pregnancy can be very rough. Nausea and morning sickness can last all day and eating and keeping food down can be a struggle. When presented with the choice between taking a prescription pill for morning sickness or CBD oil from an organic source, more and more women are opting for CBD.
Some advice if you do decide to mix CBD and pregnancy
If you’re seriously considering CBD and pregnancy, we have a few pieces of advice to ensure you’re getting the safest and highest quality CBD:
- Buy organic and non-GMO CBD, grown without pesticides or other chemicals
- Make sure the CBD has been tested by a third party lab
- Avoid THC
- Avoid smoking: Look for edible or topical CBD products. Vaping CBD could also be an option.
- Avoid CBD tinctures extracted with ethanol or other alcohol
- Microdose and only use as needed