Woven into the fabric of the human body is an intricate system of proteins known as cannabinoid receptors that are specifically designed to process cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the primary active components of marijuana. And it turns out, based on the findings of several major scientific studies, that human breast milk naturally contains many of the same cannabinoids found in marijuana, which are actually extremely vital for proper human development.
Cell membranes in the body are naturally equipped with these cannabinoid receptors which, when activated by cannabinoids and various other nutritive substances, protect cells against viruses, harmful bacteria, cancer, and other malignancies. And human breast milk is an abundant source of endocannabinoids, a specific type of neuromodulatory lipid that basically teaches a newborn child how to eat by stimulating the suckling process. If it were not for these cannabinoids in breast milk, newborn children would not know how to eat, nor would they necessarily have the desire to eat, which could result in severe malnourishment and even death. Believe it or not, the process is similar to how adult individuals who smoke pot get the “munchies,” as newborn children who are breastfed naturally receive doses of cannabinoids that trigger hunger and promote growth and development.
Is there evidence to support the claim that scientists have discovered cannabinoids, similar to cannabis in breast milk?
“Endocannabinoids have been detected in maternal milk and activation of CB1 (cannabinoid receptor type 1) receptors appears to be critical for milk sucking … apparently activating oral-motor musculature,” says the abstract of a 2004 study on the endocannabinoid receptor system that was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology.
“The medical implications of these novel developments are far reaching and suggest a promising future for cannabinoids in pediatric medicine for conditions including ‘non-organic failure-to-thrive’ and cystic fibrosis.”
Studies on cannabinoids in breast milk help further demystify the truth about marijuana
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors in the body — the CB1 variety which exists in the brain, and the CB2 variety which exists in the immune system and throughout the rest of the body. Each one of these receptors responds to cannabinoids, whether it be from human breast milk in children, or from juiced marijuana, for instance, in adults.
This essentially means that the human body was built for cannabinoids, as these nutritive substances play a critical role in protecting cells against disease, boosting immune function, protecting the brain and nervous system, and relieving pain and disease-causing inflammation, among other things. And because science is finally catching up in discovering how this amazing cannabinoid system works, the stigma associated with marijuana use is, thankfully, in the process of being eliminated.
In another study on the endocannabinoids published in the journal Pharmacological Reviews back in 2006, researchers from the Laboratory of Physiologic Studies at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism uncovered even more about the benefits of cannabinoids. These include their ability to promote proper energy metabolism and appetite regulation, treat metabolic disorders, treat multiple sclerosis, and prevent neurodegeneration, among many other conditions.
Cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Dr. Melanie Dreher studied women using cannabis during their entire pregnancy, and then evaluated the babies one year after birth. She focused on a group of Jamaican women who smoked cannabis during pregnancy and those who didn’t. She states:
“It seems to make no difference in terms of exposure during pregnancy. We looked at these children again at age five, both groups of children, and could find absolutely nothing that linked their development with their exposure during pregnancy.”
She expected to see a difference in the babies as far as birth weight and neurological tests, but there was no difference whatsoever. The differences that the researchers did notice, that are as yet unexplained are that the babies of the women who had smoked cannabis daily during their pregnancy, socialized more quickly, made eye contact more quickly and were easier to engage.
It stands to reason that if our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids they must be of benefit to us. It is improbable that we would evolve to produce cannabinoids and a complex endocannabinoid receptor system if the compounds are harmful to our systems. The best advice we can conclude from the available evidence is moderate cannabis use during pregnancy will not harm the developing fetus. Cannabis use during breastfeeding seems equally as tenable.