Is CBD Safe for
Cannabidiol — popularly known as CBD — has become a one-stop remedy for many health conditions, including inflammation, stress, and anxiety. It is one of over 120 cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, whose potential list of benefits continues to grow.
With more people than ever before turning to CBD products for pain relief, it’s understandable why pregnant moms may consider taking CBD to alleviate the side effects of pregnancy, such as morning sickness, lower back pain, cramps, and nausea. They may often wonder, “Is CBD safe during pregnancy?” The answer: probably not.
Why Are Pregnant Women Considering the Use of CBD?
Any substance that mothers consume or apply to their bodies may have possible impacts on their pregnancy and the developing fetus. Studies on the effects of CBD oil on pregnant and breastfeeding women aren’t comprehensive. Experts continue to research the benefits and potential side effects that CBD may have on developing babies and their mothers.
Many women experience hyperemesis gravidarum — extreme morning sickness — during pregnancy. Symptoms of morning sickness — including nausea and vomiting — can be severely uncomfortable. Pregnant women may vomit more than four times a day, constantly feel dizzy, and become dehydrated.
The medications that doctors prescribe for morning sickness may come with their own side effects, like anxiety, insomnia, and blurred vision.
Mothers may turn to CBD to help reduce nausea symptoms, whilst addressing the other side effects of anti-nausea medications, such as insomnia and anxiety. According to animal studies, CBD interacts with serotonin receptors to help quell nausea. (1)
Expectant mothers don’t just use CBD products to address morning sickness during their pregnancies. They also use CBD oil, hoping it’s safe for pregnant women with:
- Anxiety or stress
- Sleeping problems and insomnia
But is CBD oil safe while pregnant for anxiety, pain, or stress? It is ill-advised for pregnant women to take CBD supplements — including topicals and sublingual drops — to alleviate pregnancy-related side effects.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against taking CBD when pregnant or breastfeeding because there is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby. The FDA is continuing to collect and study the data.
Why Are Experts Hesitant To Recommend CBD During Pregnancy?
CBD doesn’t produce the high feeling associated with marijuana use. It is completely non-psychoactive. Instead, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for the high sensation.
The U.S. Surgeon General advises pregnant consumers to avoid using marijuana and other products containing THC because it affects fetal brain development. THC also increases the risk of low birth weight by 50%. (2)
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pregnant women who decide to use cannabinoid-containing products to treat nausea and vomiting should be advised about the lack of safety data as well as the possible harmful effects that these products may have on the fetus. (3)
Many expectant mothers also ask, “Is topical CBD safe for pregnant women?” The FDA strongly advises against the use of CBD, THC, or any other form of marijuana during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.4 This is mainly because this subject has not been well-researched and no conclusive data exists regarding the effects of CBD on the expectant mother, the developing fetus, or the breastfeeding baby.
Most existing CBD studies involve animals. Data on the effects of CBD and pregnancy is limited. Still, the FDA claims it is continuing to collect data on the effects of CBD during pregnancy and while mothers are breastfeeding.
The FDA has not approved any CBD products for use by pregnant women. To date, the only prescription drug containing CBD that’s been approved by the FDA is Epidiolex. This drug is used for the treatment of seizures in children.
The reasons why the FDA hasn’t approved CBD for pregnancy are:
- They don’t know if it’s safe and effective to alleviate the side effects of pregnancy.
- They aren’t sure about the recommended dosage — if any.
- They don’t know how the product could react with food or other drugs.
- They need to address safety concerns and any adverse side effects.
What Are the Risks of Using CBD While Pregnant?
High doses of CBD may cause issues with the reproductive system of developing male fetuses. This comes from a study where high exposure to CBD in pregnant test animals during gestation or after birth affected testicular function and sperm count in male rats. (5) No studies involving topical use have been published.
Breastfeeding mothers risk transferring CBD to their infants through their breast milk. Contaminated CBD products from less reputable manufacturers also pose risks to the mother and her infant.
According to the FDA, there are reports that certain CBD products have contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, fungus, and bacteria. The FDA is currently investigating these claims. (4) That is why it’s important to know the manufacturer of any CBD product and look at their COA’s (certificate of analysis). These 3rd party lab reports can help ensure product quality.
THC-Free CBD Oil: Is it Safe for Someone Pregnant?
While this is a natural question to ask, most available Full Spectrum CBD oil already has a very miniscule amount of THC. Federal law states that it has to be under 0.3%. So while broad spectrum or isolate would technically be better for expecting mothers, the unknown fetal developmental risk of ingesting CBD still remain
The decision about whether or not to use CBD during pregnancy, and in what way, lies with the pregnant mother. It’s strongly advisable to speak with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any drugs during pregnancy.
CBD products currently exist in a largely unregulated market due to the FDA taking much longer than expected to provide the industries with any standards. There are limited studies on whether CBD is safe for pregnant women.
For this reason, it’s best to err on the side of caution, especially with products taken orally. Keep in mind that the FDA hasn’t approved any CBD products for use during pregnancy.
- “What to know about CBD for nausea.” Medical News Today. Accessed on Feb. 28, 2022.
- “Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain.” Office of the Surgeon General. Accessed on Feb. 28, 2022.
- “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Implications for Neonatal and Childhood Outcomes.” American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed on Feb. 28, 2022.
- “What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding.” Food and Drug Administration. Accessed on Feb. 28, 2022.
- “Maternal cannabinoid exposure. Effects on spermatogenesis in male offspring.” International Journal of Andrology. Accessed on Feb. 28, 2022.