***Disclaimer*** The following article is for information only and not to be taken as medical advice. Consult your doctor before trying any products discussed, as there are potential dangerous risks to everything ingested or absorbed during pregnancy.
Some challenges with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, from Morning Sickness (MS) to Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), is that few remedies actually help relieve nausea, and most antiemetics, including over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription products, while not teratogenic have adverse effects to the mother that are often equal to or worse than the benefits received from the medications. This puts cannabidiol AKA “CBD” in a perfect position to ease symptoms in the pregnant mom whose life has been upended by what society considers to be a “normal” part of pregnancy.
For many years, women have been asking me for CBD recommendations, and I finally feel ready to do so. Why now? Because I now have seen hundreds of women use CBD to ease their pregnancy sickness symptoms without any known negative outcomes. Here is why I waited:
- There is limited clinical evidence of efficacy and safety on CBD use during pregnancy. Most evidence is anecdotal or through retrospective case studies.
- CBD is sold everywhere, from hemp-based strains in convenience stores, gift shops and online stores to marijuana blends available from dispensaries. Researching every product would be a full time job! Also, dozens of my highly respected colleagues are involved in the cannabis industry, from manufacturing to distribution to selling, with products available in pharmacies and through direct sales. Everyone has told me how beneficial their products are, which is great in supporting evidence of their use, and although these testimonies are exciting, it also adds to the plethora of options from which to choose.
- Since CBD products are considered dietary supplements and not regulated by the FDA in the same way as prescription medications, CBD manufacturers cannot legally say that their products treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. All supplements are truly a “use at your own risk” situation.
- There are potential risks to everything ingested during pregnancy!
Of course, there are potential risks to everything ingested when not pregnant, but when we are growing another life inside of us, the highest precautions must be taken.
Since clinical studies for marijuana’s effects on the fetus during pregnancy are still conflicting and to avoid risk of law enforcement and child protective services getting involved in any of the families that turn to this blog for information, I decided to narrow my search for recommendations to those that come from hemp, which was made legal in all 50 states in 2018 through the Farm Bill. To be considered a commodity, the CBD strains must have less than 0.3% THC. This is my first warning! Know that just because a CBD comes from hemp and not marijuana, it still may have some THC in it, albeit a small amount.
CBD Background Information
It is important to have a little background information. As most people know, CBD stands for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol does not target the same cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, as cannabis from marijuana plants. It is known for NOT having the psychoactive component, THC, but this is a generalization. As mentioned above, CBD may still have a small amount of THC, and CBD still does have multiple effects throughout the nervous system. In fact, there is even an FDA approved CBD product. It’s called Epidiolex and is approved to “treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age and older.” Since the benefits of CBD are now being noticed by pharmaceutical companies for these conditions, there is hope that they will start researching its benefits in pregnant women.
At the moment, however, research is still limited. A recent publication¹ states that while CBD’s mechanism for nausea is not fully understood, it does target serotonin receptors and works on the vagal nervous system. This should sound familiar as these are the same mechanisms as many other antiemetics often prescribed for MS and HG. Another current study, specifically on CBD use in pregnancy, without THC, states all its potential benefits but again notes that more research is needed². Multiple sources repeated that many of the positive effects are felt in its actions that enhance the endocannabinoid system³ and other modulators in the central nervous system4 so not only might it help relieve nausea, it also decreases pain and improves mood. All benefits desired by women suffering during pregnancy.
What’s the difference between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate CBD?
- Full-spectrum CBD contains CBD, terpenes, additional cannabinoids, and trace amounts of THC.
- Broad-spectrum CBD contains CBD, terpenes, additional cannabinoids, but no THC.
- Isolate CBD typically contains only CBD because the CBD has been isolated from other components. However, some isolate CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC.
What’s the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?
- According to Medical News Today, “Hemp seed oil and CBD oil both derive from the cannabis plant. CBD oil comes from the flowers, leaves, and stems, while hemp seed oil uses extract from the seeds of the cannabis plant.”5 Additionally, CBD oil is guaranteed to contain a certain amount of CBD while hemp oil is not guaranteed to contain a certain amount of CBD.
- Since no CBD products have clinical studies to show safety in pregnancy, consult your doctor before trying any products.
- Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as prescription medications. Supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. So, know that CBD may help support women suffering from HG but nothing more than that.
After extensive research, I’m excited to share products from three companies with you. All are from crops grown in the USA and are proud of their manufacturing process. Here you go!
According to my colleague, Dr. Daniel Asarch, who is involved in this brand from farm to package, these products also have characteristics that makes them stand out from other brands and may be superior in helping ease pregnancy sickness.
✓ These oils are dominant in CBDa which targets the serotonin (5-HT3) receptors. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is the same receptors that ondansetron (Zofran) targets. In fact, according to Dr. Asarch, “CBDa is reported to be 100 times stronger than other forms of CBD.”
✓ These oils come in a tincture bottle, which can be made into a roll-on that has just the oil or oil and peppermint or oil peppermint and lavender. Let Dr. Asarch know which you prefer, or if you’re interested in being part of a study to determine which combination is preferred.
Their certificate of analysis confirming exactly what’s inside the product is as-advertised is available for everyone to see on their website. It shows exactly which cannabinoids and terpenes are in the product, and proves that there are no pesticides, microbials, metals, mycotoxins or other foreign matter involved. Although these products are not at zero percent THC like Vasayo products, they are shown to have 0.2% thc, which is far below the government requirements.
For more information on Happy Hemp Farm products, connect with Dr. Asarch online at @happyhemppharm.
(This link gets each person an extra 15% off first month’s subscription or 15% off one time purchase.)
Dr. Emily Kulpa, a colleague of mine who specializes in psychedelic medicine, explained to me that Equilibria’s products have been safely used during pregnancy without any THC effects. Just like Vasayo and Happy Hemp Farm, Equilibria is made in the USA. This company also has two unique benefits that make them stand out from others:
✓ Personalized education is part of each purchase! Everyone who purchases CBD products through Equilibria can speak with a dosage specialist (included in purchase) to learn more about the products and get individualized guidance on dosing. Amy Kamin, who wrote the following blog, states, “Our dosage specialists at Equilibria are asked questions every day about pregnancy, breastfeeding, and postpartum struggles.” Take a look at a blog Amy wrote on CBD in pregnancy: Moms and CBD: from Pregnancy to Breastfeeding to Raising Your Kids. In addition, customers who are also taking medications get a consultation with a pharmacist trained on their products.
✓ Equilibra is a women owned company and goes above and beyond supporting women through their products. The product research and development and cannabis education efforts focus on applications of CBD for female wellness. Dr. Kulpa said she can attest to the clients she’s worked directly with in her consulting practice who have used Equlibria’s products successfully. “Many of my clients have gotten off of antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and sleep aids with the help of Equilibria’s CBD.”
By Women, For You
We understand that our bodies are different, from cyclical changes to the very real challenges of menopause and childbirth and everything in-between. So at Equilibria, we believe quality matters. We believe service matters. And women deserve a CBD brand that can deliver all of the above!
Equilibria has a variety of CBD products that are full-spectrum and organic and come in formulations perfect for women with pregnancy sickness: Daily Drops, Softgels, Gummies and Rapid Calming Melts.
Dr. Kulpa says that she can definitely recommend Equilibria’s products as being high quality.
“They source all of their hemp from a farm in Boulder, CO. They grow it outside using organic practices and hand-harvest the flower for consistent results and internally test the products before sending them off to third-party testing.”
Just a reminder…Equilibria’s stance is that they recommend pregnant women speak with their healthcare provider about CBD and support whatever decision the member makes – to use CBD or not during pregnancy/breastfeeding.
Dr. Laura Sciepko, another pharmacist colleague with extensive experience and knowledge of CBD uses in women’s health, is the Director for Green Compass CBD. In her article on NattyGal, she states that the best CBD oils have the following qualities:
- A Certified Analysis. The product should specify the total amount of CBD content and provide certification, on each bottle, of analysis to prove strength and purity.
- Is Sourced from Hemp Grown in Clean Soil. Hemp absorbs contaminants out of the soil, so it’s important to have clean soil to start with.
- Is Certified Organic. Have peace of mind knowing your hemp was grown in absence of herbicides and pesticides.
- Carbon Dioxide Extraction Environmentally friendly, CO2 preserves cannabinoids better than solvents.
- Is sourced only from the Hemp Flower. Ariel Parts include the fibrous parts of hemp plants, which contain negligible amounts of cannabinoids.
- Clear or Golden Color. This color indicates the highest level of processing to remove by-products.
- Coconut Oil as its Carrier Oil. Coconut oil can carry more CBD molecules and ultimately deliver more cannabidiol to our cells for absorption.
Dr. Sciepko advises that USDA organic certification is one of the reasons it’s safety is set apart from other CBD companies due to the fact that hemp is a scavenger plant and absorbs the toxins in the soil.
Compass is one of the few CBD companies that offers USDA Certified Organic CBD for their full line of products and are also creating new delivery technologies that are first to market. In addition, they’re working closely with the FDA as they shape legislation and view Green Company as an example to follow.
What makes CBD One cream unique? It has two features that stand out from other CBD products:
✓ The CBD is delivered through advanced liposomal delivery technology for proven increased bioavailability. “The liposomes are double-layered “bubbles” or spheres that surround nutrients, helping them to pass through the harsh environment of the digestive system intact for better absorption and use by the body. Since HG wreaks havoc on the digestive tract, this patent protected delivery system makes a huge difference.”
✓ They are clinically proven to have zero percent THC. That’s right..zero! I do not know any other CBD products proven to have absolutely no THC. If you’re worried about the effects of THC on your baby’s development or about your hospital or doctor’s office calling child protective services about your cannabis use, this product is for you!
CBD One is a cream, which is easily absorbed. It is made in the USA from plant to package, free of THC, organic compliant and Non-GMO.
For anyone feeling adventurous, this company also has oils which come in mojito flavor, made up of peppermint and strawberry, and mocha flavor, which is flavored with coffee and chocolate. While I have yet to find an HG mom who could tolerate these flavors, it is always nice to know what options are available.
***If you try any of these three recommendations, or if you have another company to recommend, please let us know at info@HGPharmacist.com
4Grant, K. S., Petroff, R., Isoherranen, N., Stella, N., & Burbacher, T. M. (2018). Cannabis use during pregnancy: Pharmacokinetics and effects on child development. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 182, 133–151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2017.08.014
5. Medical News Today. “What is the difference between hemp seed oil and CBD oil?”