World Breast Feeding Week: Did you know Breast Milk contains Endocannabinoids?

Image credit: Shayoon Mendeleuk @shayoon_

World Breast Feeding Week: 1st-7th August 2020

Breast milk is known to provide babies with the most optimal nutrition, while also being easily digested, and is of course promptly available. So far scientific research has discovered that human breast milk contains endocannabinoids, including both 2-AG and anandamide, although the 2-AG levels are suspected as being much higher- this suggests that when it comes to human development, the endocannabinoid system plays a much larger role than previously thought. A lot of people will be unaware of 2-AG and anandamide, which are two endocannabinoids that have been most researched, whereas the two most researched phytocannabinoids are CBD and THC, which are widely known.
 
Since the role of cannabinoids in breast milk has been the subject of several studies, it is now believed by researchers that endocannabinoids could be an intrinsic part of how babies learn to latch onto their mother’s nipple. When it comes to anandamide it is used as a chemical messenger between the embryo and uterus while it is being implanted into the wall of the uterus. Although anandamide’s structure is similar to THC, they are very different molecules that affect the human body in different ways. Whereas when it comes to CBD, this cannabinoid isn’t similar to any of the human body’s endocannabinoids. It also doesn’t directly bind to any of the cannabinoid receptors, instead, it changes the shape of the receptors, which widens the binding range of our body’s endogenous molecules.
 
It has already been established that cannabinoid activity is linked with the stimulation of appetite, it is now theorised that the cannabinoids within breast milk could be what first prompts a baby’s appetite. The cannabinoids and other nutrients found within breast milk are also integral in protecting newborns from viruses and bacteria, which affirms the importance of breast milk and their cannabinoids in infant development.

Here are three science-based benefits of breastfeeding:

 

1) There is a lower risk of depression in mothers who breastfeed

15% of mothers are affected by postpartum depression which can develop soon after giving birth. One reason for the lower risk of depression could be due to the increased levels of oxytocin that are produced throughout childbirth and breastfeeding, oxytocin has anti-anxiety effects, and boosts mother-baby bonding by affecting the parts of the brain that promote relaxation and nurturing.

2) It provides baby with the best nutrition

For the first 6 months, babies can get all the nutrients needed from breast milk. And in the first few days after childbirth, the fluid that is produced by the breasts is called colostrum- which is low in sugars, high in protein and full of valuable compounds, and therefore is very beneficial for newborns.

3) It contains essential antibodies

Breast milk contains antibodies that assist babies in fighting off any viruses or bacteria, this is especially true when it comes to colostrum. Whenever the mother is exposed to any virus or bacteria, she will then produce antibodies which will then enter the breast milk and pass onto the baby during feeding sessions.
 Although research has made on these discoveries when it comes to breastfeeding, sometimes breastfeeding is just not possible, and therefore feeding your baby with formula milk is absolutely fine, as it has all the nutrients your baby will need. Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and there are always pros and cons to everything, for instance, the antibodies and other components within breast milk can protect your baby from illness and other chronic diseases, however, stress, convenience and health also come into this personal decision- the priority has to be what is best for both baby and mum.


Pregnant or lactating women should always consult a qualified medical doctor prior to the use of any supplements, this includes CBD.