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Cannabidiol or CBD has been growing in popularity recently and with it comes a growing market of various products ranging from simple foodstuffs to curated supplements. However, as popular as it is for many people, its use in pregnancy raises questions and concerns. Expecting mothers would want the best for them as their health will most definitely impact their baby’s health. 

What is CBD? 

Cannabidiol is one of the major cannabinoids extracted from cannabis, the other being tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The difference of CBD from THC is that CBD is non-intoxicating; therefore, it will not leave the user an impairing high THC is known for.  

This non-intoxicating factor is the main reason CBD has a growing market at its helm. It can be used in various ways at any time of the day without hampering productivity. 

How does CBD relate to pregnancy? 

When someone goes through the different stages of pregnancy, the expecting mother will experience various discomforts such as cramps, nausea, vomiting, sometimes even anxiety and depression. As such, expectant mothers would often search for reliefs from these conditions. 

CBD offers another facet of treatment aside from common over-the-counter drugs. Some of these easily acquired drugs can have contraindications that may limit its use to some expecting mothers.  

There may also be pregnant women who would like to treat these ailments in a more natural approach. This is where cannabis and its components come into play. 

Research results on CBD 

Cramping pain is often experienced by pregnant women during the early stages of pregnancy. This pain can often reduce productivity and mobility, making it difficult for them to engage even in the most basic routine tasks.  

A research article published in 2008 finds CBD able to alleviate difficult to treat pain often associated with ageing, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. CBD was found to be another avenue of treatment where available pharmacological therapies were only able to provide relief to the patients inadequately. The study also finds CBD to be tolerated by the human body with acceptable side-effects [1]

Nausea is one of the common signs of pregnancy usually occurring a month after the baby’s inception. Nausea is often accompanied by vomiting and may hamper the expectant mother’s ability to sustain the nutrients needed to support the baby.  

Another research published in 2011 illustrates the capability of cannabinoids, including CBD, to regulate nausea and vomiting. Although the study was conducted using animal trials, the authors were optimistic about the potential benefits of cannabinoids as the animal models used in the trials were also the same models used to understand [2]

Mental health is often affected in pregnant women as they tend to experience mood swings making them emotional. These mood swings may sometimes lead to anxiety, depression, and stress hampering overall health.  

A study from 2015 shows CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviours relevant to multiple mental health disorders. The study also finds CBD to have no anxiogenic or anxiety-inducing effects, minimal sedative effects, and an excellent safety profile [3]

Another study from 2019 finds CBD to induce antidepressant effects in animal models relevant to depression. This is compared to currently available antidepressant drugs which, according to the authors, have a substantial time lag and relatively low efficacy [4]

Side effects of CBD

CBD is often well tolerated; however, it can still cause potential side effects. These side effects include diarrhea, dry mouth and reduced appetite. CBD may also potentially interfere with an enzyme called ‘cytochrome P450 complex’. This disruption may affect the liver’s ability to break down toxins, which can increase the risk of liver toxicity. 

Therefore, it is important to discuss medical cannabis treatment with a specialised medical cannabis doctor. 

The final verdict on the use of CBD during pregnancy 

The studies mentioned providing potential benefits to expecting mothers are only preliminary in nature and either done on animals used for animal models relevant to humans or done to healthy, non-pregnant humans.  

This may be a cause for concern to many mothers as the side-effects are not clearly understood, and the overall concept is still lacking. Until there is substantial scientific evidence that specifically links pregnancy and CBD, many health professionals may hesitate to prescribe CBD to pregnant women and opt for other avenues of treatment. 

 

Endnotes:

1  Russo E.B. 2008. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.

Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/ 

Parker L. A., et al. 2011. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids.

Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165951/ 

Blessing E. M., et al. 2015. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.

Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/ 

Sales A. J., et al. 2019. Cannabidiol Induces Rapid and Sustained Antidepressant-Like Effects Through Increased BDNFSignalingand Synaptogenesis in the Prefrontal Cortex. 

Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29869197/

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