Every month we see a new natural health product hitting the market at full speed. Some of them last, some fade away. I learnt a long time ago not to trust something just because it’s popular. In fact I am a natural born skeptic. I like to do vigilant research before I even vaguely trust any product.
CBD oil (cannabinoidal) fascinates me. Especially the kind derived from hemp rather than marijuana, since hemp doesn’t contain THC. My big question with most CBD oils is, “What process does the oil go through to get the final product? And were there synthetic chemicals involved (such as butane)?”
During my research on this interesting substance and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) I came across research on the role of endocannabinoids (endogenous lipids) in fertility. My eyes literally popped out of my head. A month before I fell pregnant with my daughter naturally at 39 years old I had been using high potency hemp CBD oil everyday. Could this have accidentally been the last piece of the puzzle in my long journey to creating a healthy natural pregnancy and healthy baby? The research certainly points in that direction…
So what is the Endocannabinoid System?
The ECS is a director of the nervous system, immunity, digestion and hormonal systems. Cannabinoids are also essential for proper brain and gut development and even influence our relationship to hunger. During inutero development, the baby is flooded with endocannabinoids, as well as being nourished with them after birth through the mothers breastmilk.
The ECS has two types of receptors: CB1 receptors are found within the central nervous system, mitochondria, adrenal gland, ovaries, endometrium and testes. While CB2 receptors are found in the ovarian cortex, ovarian medulla, and ovarian follicles.
Fertility and Uber Healthy Conception
What if endocannabinoids are the fertility game changers? What if this complex system actually was the make it or break it of a healthy conception and pregnancy?
Researchers at the Pediatrics Department at Vanderbilt University discovered endocannabinoids influence crucial steps during early pregnancy. “The life of the egg and the beginning of a pregnancy, depends on a healthy endocannabinoid system.” The scientific world is intrigued by the possible implications of their discoveries, “These studies have also opened new perspectives in clinical applications, pointing to endocannabinoid signalling as a new target for correcting infertility, and for improving reproductive health in humans.” suggests researchers in the paper Regulation of female fertility by the endocannabinoid system
Endocannabinoids are clearly essential in many aspects of the pre and postnatal development of babies. In the paper “The role of the endocannabinoid system in female reproductive tissues” published in 2019, researchers state, “While the ECS is known to modulate pain and neurodevelopment, it is also known to impact the female reproductive system where it affects folliculogenesis, oocyte maturation, and ovarian endocrine secretion. In addition, the ECS affects oviductal embryo transport, implantation, uterine decidualization and placentation.” In particular a specific amount of the endocannainoid ananamide enables the embryo to attach to the lining of the uterus.
Note: Men’s libido and fertility also rely on ananamide levels.
There is a strong interplay between the ECS and the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which affects steroid hormone production and secretion in the pituitary and in the ovaries. They also have a strong influence on the mitochondria in the reproductive system and mitochondria are in charge of the quality of the sperm, eggs and placenta. If the quality of our gametes or placenta are compromised we are prone to miscarriage, birth defects or an unhealthy epigenetic coding.
There are also interesting findings in the area of reproductive disorders. The recent study on the ECS and polycystic ovarian syndrome suggests dysregulation of the ECS via insulin resistance may play a role in the onset of PCOS. In the paper Endocannabinoid system activation may be associated with insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome researchers wrote, “Activation of endocannabinoids and overexpression of cannabinoid receptors, especially CB1, may be associated with insulin resistance in women with PCOS.”
What we know from this research is that both the father and the mother have to have a healthy ECS system to produce a healthy conception, pregnancy and baby.
Endocannabinoid Breastmilk and Baby Brain Development
The CB1 receptor is now known to be responsible for the development of the inutero and postnatal infant brain. Without CB1 receptors infants cannot survive.
In January 2017 a study confirmed that cannabinoids occur in abundance in mothers milk, Ananamide stimulates the suckling reflex in newborns, ensuring their ability to thrive (receptors are found in the oral–motor musculature). This suggests that the endocannabinoids in breast milk are fundamental for the development and regulation of a newborn’s appetite.
A study on the endocannabinoid receptor system that was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology reported: “The medical implications of these novel developments are far reaching and suggest a promising future for cannabinoids in paediatric medicine for conditions including ‘non-organic failure-to-thrive’ and cystic fibrosis.”
Where does CBD Oil come in?
CBD – cannabidiol – is an oil based molecule found in plants such as the cannabis family. It does not have any psychoactive effect, in fact since it is the antagonist to THC it is known for its anti-psychoactive properties. Both phytocannabinoids (plant sourced) and endocannabinoids (biological) function within the body’s endocannabinoid system.
CBD oil is unique. It is the only cannabinoid that does not act directly on either CB1 or CB2, but rather helps to bring balance by regulating all ECS receptors. In this way it acts more like an adaptogen. This means it enhances our uptake of biological endocannabinoids instead of creating the need to add other phytocannabinoids into the system.
In a nutshell CBD helps your own endocannabinoid system with production, sensitization and regulation instead of adding in new cannabinoids. This is a pretty amazing quality.
CBD oil clearly promises to be beneficial for natural hormone balancing and baby making, for both men and women!