Cannabinoids in Human Breast Milk

Posted by Alex Corren on

Human breast milk is rich in cannabinoids similar to CBD. We humans naturally produce our own version of cannabinoids, as do most animals. These internally-produced cannabinoids are known as endocannabinoids. They interact with many essential systems and pathways in the body including what is known as the Endocannabinoid System. Believe it or not, a large concentration these cannabinoids that we produce are found in human breast milk. 

baby cannabinoids in breast milk

How and why would that be the case?

Scientists in the 1970s started to learn that endocannabinoids were involved in a variety of fundamental biological processes, including those related to food and appetite. 30 years later they finally discovered endocannabinoids in human breast milk. Naturally, this led researchers to investigate further. What they found out is fascinating.

They performed experiments to determine what effect cannabinoids have on the stimulus for newborns to start drinking milk. The results were clear. Cannabinoids are critical for the development of a newborn’s appetite. Without it they may not have the urge to suckle milk and could very well not survive.

We used to think that a newborn suckling for milk was a purely instinctual reaction, but now we understand that it is at least in part triggered by the activation of the CB1 receptor. That happens to be the same receptor that is activated when THC is consumed and people get the ‘munchies’.

But it’s not just about newborns learning to feed, it’s also about the critical influence that cannabinoids play in pre and postnatal development. Cannabinoids support the healthy development and functioning of the nervous system, immune system, brain neurons and more.

What does that mean?

A common question that gets asked is, is CBD safe for children? The research certainly indicates that cannabinoids like CBD are essential for full bodily functioning at every stage of life, and that they’re fundamental to the healthy development of human beings.

All humans are born with cannabinoid receptors for a reason. These cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body on our organs and brain. Studies have even shown by 14 weeks into gestation a fetus has already developed CB1 receptors! Cannabinoids are an absolutely vital component of a healthy fully functioning human body.

It makes perfect sense that something so critical to our wellbeing would be found in high concentration in human breast milk - a fluid that evolved over millennia to be the perfect source of nutrition for the newborn baby of that species.

cannabinoids in human breast milk baby formula

Cannabinoid products for newborns?

Of course, discretion should always be used when purchasing a CBD product or any other product containing cannabinoids for a human of any age. You want to make sure that the other ingredients in the product are pure and clean. Unfortunately, there are some ‘bad actor’ companies out there that include ingredients that are unnecessary or worse - legitimately harmful - in their formulations.

One interesting implication of this research relates to baby formula. If for whatever reason a mother is not able to breastfeed her child, perhaps the baby formula should contain a carefully calculated dose of cannabinoids to more closely mimic what is found in natural breast milk. Studies have shown the breastfed babies end up being healthier than babies that were given formula. Cannabinoids might be the missing component to those formulas, and adding them back into formula might ensure that the baby gets the nutrition as well as the building blocks needed for the healthy development of critical systems and pathways in the body. 

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