Everything you need to know about CBD oil and breastfeeding

Published Jan 29, 2019 01:39 p.m. ET

 CBD (Cannabidiol) is only one of many chemical components produced by a cannabis plant. CBD is considered to be the more medicinal element and will not make users high. CBD oil is an amazingly effective treatment for many ailments, from nausea and joint pain to headaches, lack of appetite and inflammation. All things that commonly affect thousands of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers every single day. It can be taken orally with a dropper or made into edibles which provides a more enjoyable way of taking medication. It is not smoked and therefore does not come with many of the side effects so widely associated with smoking any substance. It sounds like a perfect miracle cure doesn't it? But is CBD oil safe while breastfeeding?

The facts

Unfortunately, due to the laws surrounding any use of cannabis being so restrictive, as of now, there are almost no in-depth or long-term studies that have been done on the use of CBD oil while nursing. Because of that, there is absolutely no way to say for certain how safe it is for breastfeeding mothers or their children. The handful of studies that have been done into the subject have shown absolutely no consistent results, likely due to the small window in which these studies were done. Usually for one year or less with the majority of the focus being on pregnant mothers. What we do know is that babies are much more vulnerable to sickness and chemicals than fully developed adults are. So, while we can’t make any guarantees, what we can do is focus on what we do know to help you make an informed decision.

How long does CBD oil stay in breastmilk?

The components CBD and THC infuse themselves so tightly to fat tissue that the exact amounts found in breast milk are nearly impossible to measure. However, both THC and CBD can show in an infant for up to one month after the mother's last time using cannabis. Thus far there have been no studies done to reference on the use of CBD oil alone.

All the buzz

One of the most celebrated findings thus far is that cannabinoids are a naturally occurring chemical component found in breast milk. Cannabinoids can even be found in the milk of mothers who have never touched marijuana in any form in their entire life. Endocannabinoids stimulate appetite and assist an infant when first learning how to eat. Without them, the child would never get hungry and lose any desire to learn how to eat. Dr. Melanie Dreher completed one study that followed pregnant mothers for up to six months and then their infants for one year after being born. She found that infants with mothers who ingested marijuana were more social, and faster to engage others, while visibly calmer. While this all sounds good and is the study most commonly referred to by mothers defending their using of marijuana, it only describes cannabinoids which are not necessarily CBD or THC.

Should a nursing mother consider using CBD oil?

According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) women who suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety have the most problems with breastfeeding. CBD encourages the brain to create higher levels of serotonin. CBD also blocks the neurotransmitter called GABA which is believed to be the source of anxiety. Both serotonin and blocking the GABA help to calm symptoms of anxiety or depression and are known to relax the user. They say that if your symptoms become unbearable and a danger to either you or your infant then it is best to weight the potential risk against the benefits. Many alternatives like antidepressants have widely known side effects that can affect both mother and child. In the end, using CBD oil comes down to a personal choice. When struggling it is important to consider all options available, many of which will have potential risks.

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