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Cannabis in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Cannabis use during pregnancy is a loaded topic, with many intense opinions offered. Let’s explore some of the known facts. Low levels of serum endocannabinoids correlate with successful pregnancies, but cannabis use also correlates with an increase in anovulatory (menstrual cycles without egg release) cycles as well as potential ovulatory delay and cycle inhibition. This is likely because increased circulating levels of THC may help to overcome the body’s attempt to decrease endocannabinoids after ovulation. Primary ovulatory delay is associated with an increased risk of infertility. In contrast, research shows that there is no association between cannabis use and fecundability, how long it takes to get pregnant. Cannabis may also be beneficial in hyperemesis gravidarum, a pregnancy disorder with persistent severe vomiting, leading to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, miscarriage and death.

Cannabinoids and their metabolites cross the placenta, enter the fetal bloodstream, and are distributed in the fetal tissues, including the brain.There were concerns that their presence would be correlated with impairments in cognitive, behavioral, and emotional development, but research found any changes proved to be minimal and non-persistent. During pregnancy the endocannabinoid levels remain low, but at the onset of labor the levels of anandamide, the “bliss” endocannabinoid important in uterine contraction, increases by four times. Higher anandamide levels are linked to shorter delivery times.

The cannabis content of breast milk is 8x that of the mother’s serum. There has not been any evidence linking its presence to any disorder or dysfunction, but there is concern that they might negatively impact brain development. Because of this, in 2019 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists position was to encourage abstinence during lactation, but not to consider cannabis use a contraindication to recommending breastfeeding.

Contrasting studies have found that human breast milk naturally contains many of the same cannabinoids found in marijuana, which are extremely vital for proper human development. Cannabinoid receptors are found on the membranes of every cell in the human body, and when these receptors are activated by cannabinoids and other nutritive substances they protect the cells against viruses, harmful bacteria, cancer and other malignancies. The endocannabinoids found in human breast milk are an abundant source of endocannabinoids that serve as a specific neuromodulatory lipid that basically teaches a newborn baby how to eat by stimulating the suckling process.

The two types of cannabinoid receptors in the body are CB1, which exists in the brain, and CB2 which exists in the immune system and throughout the rest of the body. These receptors respond to cannabinoids, whether they come from human breast milk or marijuana, supporting the concept that the human body was “made for” cannabis use. These substances play an important role in protecting cells against disease, boosting the immune system, protecting the brain and nervous system and relieving pain and inflammation, the primary cause of disease and aging. Because of all of these positive factors, there are many who believe that cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation supports health and wellness.

Clearly, the issue of cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation are very complex and there are often contraindicating advantages and harms. Open, honest conversation with your physician, your partner, and other important people in your life is where it should begin, but in the end this is your decision, and you are responsible for the choices you make. Make sure that you make informed ones.

Author: Dr. Lynn

Dr. Bornfriend is a triple Board-Certified psychiatrist in Adult, Child & Adolescent, and Forensic psychiatry. She has practiced medicine in a wide variety of clinical settings and specializes in psychiatric evaluation and treatment planning, medication management, crisis intervention, and both supportive and insight-oriented psychotherapy. She spent the last 9 1/2 years working as the psychiatrist for Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Zion, Illinois and has therefore become a specialist and psycho-oncologist. She was the sole educator for patients interested in learning about medical cannabis, helping patients understand the potential uses of cannabis in the control of the symptoms and side effects of their disease and its treatment, its efficacy in a wide range of disease states, its favorable toxicity profile and impact on the avoidance of polypharmacy, and its promotion of wellness as well as disease-fighting abilities. She explored the roots of cannabis prohibition in the United States and became fascinated with the potential it has in improving the quality of life for so many people.

Dr. Bornfriend became aware of Be Pain Free Global through one of her patients at the Cancer Center. Over the past five years, she has referred more than 1,500 patients to the collective and closely followed their progress while using medical cannabis. She has been impressed by the variety of strains offered, the variety of delivery methods available, superior quality and potency, and their affordable and reasonable pricing. Her patients who have joined the Collective have been thrilled with the quality of the medicine they have received as well as the accompanying information, troubleshooting, and compassion available to them, as all of the employees at Be Pain Free Global go above and beyond to provide education, support, encouragement, and service to patients struggling with severe illness. Doctor Bornfriend has become a Thought Leader in the field of medical cannabis having attended multiple courses, training programs, and conferences as well as given dozens of presentations and interviews for a wide variety of audiences including physicians, non-physician medical employees, and the general public She has served on the Medical Advisory Panels of several different cannabis businesses prior to joining the Be Pain Free Global team. She is a certifying physician licensed in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Hawaii, with California licensing in process. As she shifts her career path more into wellness, mindfulness, integrative and plant-based medicine, she has become more involved in the Collective and is constantly expanding ways to offer her services. She has developed an interest in working with patients on “De-prescribing”, incorporating medical cannabis and other integrative services to decrease and eliminate a number of pharmaceutical agents they consume, avoiding addiction, morbidity, and mortality associated with such practices.

Dr. Bornfriend is married and lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her husband and two teenagers, as well as two large, goofy dogs. She enjoys travel, film, outdoor activity, literature, and music.

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