Cannabinoids in Breast Milk
I bet you probably didn’t know that breast milk is a source of cannabinoids, did you? Even if you have never consumed cannabis in your life, your body makes endocannabinoids during infancy when your only source of nutrition is breast milk. The stimulating effect that cannabinoids have on the cells allows them to defend the body from bacteria and viruses.
At around 20 weeks, the fetus’s brain contains various cannabinoids; anandamide (which comes from Sanskrit “Ananda” which means “inner well-being”), 2-arachidonolyglycerol, and palmitoylethanolamide.
Anandamide begins appearing in small quantities and increases as the brain grows, reaching a certain limit and staying there. 2-arachidonolyglycerol works the opposite way; during the 20th week of pregnancy is when the most 2-AG can be found in the brain, and as the brain develops the amount of 2-AG decreases.
Anandamide stimulates the immune system and 2-AG stimulates the formation of various areas of the brain, which is why it tends to disappear as we grow and be almost completely gone from our brains once they’re fully formed, whereas the immune system needs to be active all the time.
Palmitoylethanolamide has an anti-inflammatory and pain-relief effect on the body, and elderly people that suffer from varying illnesses or chronic pain tend to have quite a deficiency of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA).
The first two cannabinoids stimulate our CB1 and CB2 receptors. One of the effects caused by this still occurs when you consume cannabis nowadays; an increase in appetite by relaxing the sympathetic muscle.
It’s extremely important for newborn babies to have a large appetite so that they can get the nutrition they need to grow and survive; this is simple evolutionary science. However, the effect it gives us is simply the munchies, as there’s no real evolutionary gain in getting hungry when you’re stoned.
Of course, there are still new thing being learned about cannabinoids and endocannabinoids every day and it’s sometimes hard to discern what’s true from what’s not. The discovery of these endocannabinoids was done in 2002, 15 years ago now, and new information, uses and properties are still being discovered, but hopefully this new influx of information will eventually lead to a more widespread legalization of this amazing medicinal plant.
Of course, this article under no condition suggests smoking or consuming cannabis when lactating, although certain cultures claim that cannabis infusions when pregnant don’t affect the development of the fetus nor does it affect lactation.
During pregnancy, infusions are supposed to help with pains and morning sickness, and during lactation it hasn’t proven to have an effect as of yet. In fact, we don’t recommend using cannabis when lactating as substances can be passed from mother to child and there’s no proven effect or non-effect as of yet but it could still have some unknown long-term effects.
Author: Fabio Inga
Translation: Ciara Murphy