The CBD movement has taken the modern medicine world by storm with increasing popularity over the last few years.
With a long list of potential health benefits, glowing user testimonials and every product under the sun offering a CBD-based alternative, the temptation to experiment with the compound has never been stronger. But the question of who should be taking CBD to treat their medical conditions is one that’s still in its infancy.
It’s an argument that, as of current, has two opposing sides. For the first group, CBD is recognized as totally safe for anyone to consume and enjoy the benefits. But for the second group (of which the FDA is a part), the knowledge surrounding CBD is as yet too limited to make an acceptable and well-founded judgment.
On the list of those looking to take CBD are new mothers, and, with a long list of health benefits that can ease the symptoms of post-pregnancy (reduces nausea, reduces anxiety, helps with sleep, as just a few examples) it’s no surprise. But any potential issues and side effects probably won’t arise for the parent who chooses to take CBD – as for the breastfeeding child.
So, let’s take a look and find out the answer to everyone’s big question: can you take CBD while breastfeeding?
What is CBD?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid forming just one out of 113 different identified cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
The cannabinoid – discovered in 1940 – has only recently gained popularity, with a wide number of ailments treated by the natural remedy. However, although it’s used by millions around the world, the FDA has only approved a single CBD-based drug – in order to treat epilepsy – and no others have been approved due to lack of incisive research and scientific evidence supporting use of the compound.
What’s perhaps the most interesting fact here is that CBD is perfectly legal in the US, albeit under a number of specific conditions, when it’s derived from hemp. As a result, there are now a huge number of different CBD products from drugs and food to dietary supplements and cosmetics, all claiming a wide variety of health benefits.
What are the benefits of CBD?
There is a strong spectrum of apparent benefits surrounding CBD consumption, making it the prime supplement for a number of patients with a variety of ailments.
Although there is a single FDA-approved drug to treat epilepsy, there is a huge interest in the suitability of CBD for a number of other conditions. With rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s and even some cancers topping the list of conditions that CBD can reportedly treat, there’s naturally huge interest in its further development and application.
However, for pregnant women and new mothers, a specific selection of benefits may be particularly appealing. This list comes from Kyro Mag:
- To relieve pain
- To reduce anxiety and depression
- To improve sleep
- To reduce stress
But is taking CBD whilst pregnant or breastfeeding advised? To find out, we went straight to the horse’s mouth to see exactly what the FDA had to say on the matter.
The FDA Perspective
If there’s a one-stop-shop for all medical advice, it’s the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What the FDA states about any matter should be taken, more or less, as gospel, with scientific evidence and high-value studies put at the forefront of opinions and advice shared. When it comes to CBD and breastfeeding, their policy is very clear.
As there is no comprehensive research surrounding the effects of CBD on a developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby:
“The FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.”
However, this isn’t a static statement; with the further collection and study of data, the FDA is to continually reevaluate the advice given in respect of the possible harmful effects of CBD, both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, in the present situation and based on what is known, there is a significant cause for concern.
FDA Animal Testing
As with the majority of FDA studies, some animal testing has been completed with the focus on reviewing high CBD doses taken during pregnancy.
The studies have yielded interesting results, showing problems caused in a number of areas, but most saliently within the reproductive systems of developing male fetuses.
Although this is an area of study specifically of interest to pregnant women, it is expected that there is a correlation and that CBD will also be transferred to babies through breast milk during breastfeeding.
FDA and the Quality of CBD
But the FDA is not only concerned with the effects that CBD may have on both unborn and newborn babies, but rather also with the quality of the CBD product as a whole.
There is a huge potential for the contamination of CBD products with a number of substances that may pose high risks to a fetus or breastfed baby, perhaps the most common contaminant being the presence of THC.
Naturally, this is of utmost interest, with THC consumption potentially affecting a newborn’s brain development, resulting in a number of long-term consequences including, but not limited to, hyperactivity and poor cognitive function.
But THC contamination is just the start of an array of potential contaminants and, due to the legal gray area surrounding CBD products, it’s not unusual to read reports of pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus having been found in the products – something that can be incredibly dangerous for both mother and child.
Currently, there are just too many unanswered questions surrounding the science, safety, and quality of CBD-based products to provide an accurate picture as to the safety of the substance to adults, let alone when delivered to babies in the breast milk of the mother.
Ultimately, nobody can say definitively whether the presence of CBD in human milk harms the breastfed baby, but it seems likely. In the absence of high-quality information to the contrary, taking CBD during breastfeeding is extremely ill-advised.
We just don’t know the effects in any sort of detail and although the benefits of CBD can seem appealing, the risk of endangering an unborn or newborn baby is just too high.
Therefore, as a result of the lack of information, we cannot recommend CBD while breastfeeding.