As Senior Herbalist, I knew it was only a matter of time before customers, clients and followers asked if CBD offers preconception fertility-health benefits and is okay to use while trying to conceive. Research is happening, but still very new, much of it is inconclusive. While there are a few studies, medical literature on the direct benefits of CBD on the endocrine system and human hormones is sparse. There are, however, proven whole-body health benefits that can benefit men and women on their fertility journeys. Read on to learn more about CBD for fertility…
First, Hemp vs. Marijuana
Hemp and Marijuana are different species or cultivars of the Cannabis plant; they’re like ‘cousins’. To be clear, this article is about the use of Cannabidiol or CBD extracted from Hemp (Cannabis Sativa), not Marijuana (Cannabis Indica), from which we get medical and recreational marijuana (that contain CBD and THC, the psychoactive substance that makes a person ‘high’).
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. The reason CBD is non-psychoactive is because the atoms that make up its molecular structure are arranged differently than those in THC. Expert organizations like the World Health Organization share, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
How does CBD work?
You may not know that the human body has an endocannabinoid system, which involves receptors on the surface of cells in the brain and peripheral nervous system that respond pharmacologically to cannabis.
CBD binds weakly with cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the central nervous system, which is in the brain and spinal cord. It binds weakly with cannabinoid 2 (CB2) in the peripheral nervous system and is involved with the body’s immune system functions. CBD is also known to directly activate serotonin receptors: serotonin is our “feel-good hormone” and neurotransmitter.
Whole System Benefits of CBD
The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports CBD has “… analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic and chemopreventive activities.” Beyond that, CBDproject.org shares, “Extensive preclinical research—much of it sponsored by the U.S. government—indicates that CBD has potent anti-tumoral, antioxidant, anti-spasmodic, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsive, and neuroprotective properties…”
More specifically, CBD is proven clinically and anecdotally to have many benefits –benefits that can alleviate the daunting symptoms that accompany many fertility health issues like:
- mood disorders including PTSD, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), anxiety and depression
- insomnia, both falling asleep and staying asleep
- chronic pain and inflammation
- neuralgia and the resultant inflammation
Fertility Health Benefits of CBD
Back to our biological endocannabinoid system for a moment. A healthy endocannabinoid system, according to Angela Gilliam, Community Manager at Verified CBD, “regulates processes like fertility [in men and women] and pregnancy, as well as post- and prenatal development.”
Cannabinoid receptors have been found in female ovaries, including in granulosa cells or follicles cells of secondary and tertiary follicles. It is also thought, according to researchers from the University of Naples in Naples, Italy, that the “cannabinoid and adrenergic systems coordinate together oviductal motility for normal journey of embryos into the uterus…”
Research from 2010 published in the Journal of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility out of Scotland concludes that synthetic CBD has the potential to reduce uterine contractions, even in pregnancy. Note: The use of CBD in pregnancy or with threatened miscarriage is not suggested alone; please seek medical support.
A 2012 Canadian study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine linked female sexual arousal to endocannabinoid system activity.
The same researchers from the University of Naples share that, “Human reproduction is also under the control of endocannabinoid signaling, which regulates the functionality of the hypothalamus-hypophysis-gonads axis and locally the reproductive system with predominant effects… spermatogenic output, sperm viability and motility – on the male side.”
Sperm have cannabinoid receptors. The cannabinoid GPR18 is thought to help improve the sperm’s acrosome reaction – the release of enzyme from the sperm head that assist it in fusing to and penetrating the egg – and their ability to fertilize an egg.
To Use CBD or Not?
The best answer is to talk to your healthcare provider, or a Naturopath, herbalist or midwife with whom you can work one on one. Data and many opinions advise against both men and women smoking and consuming marijuana while preparing for conception, or consuming high doses of CBD in pregnancy.
So many natural therapies exist with proven benefits and varying degrees of success, that we suggest these as a first course of action. That said, when used pre-conception, CBD may be a beneficial part of some natural fertility programs, as it is safe to combine with other herbs, nutritional supplements and natural therapies.
Always consult your healthcare provider if on a program they’ve suggested, on medication or if you have questions. Do your research, especially if you decide it’s right for you to ensure that the CBD/hemp oil you’re purchasing is clean, of high quality and produced by a reputable source.
- CANNABIDIOL (CBD) ( 6-10 November 2017). Pre-Review Report Agenda Item 5.2 Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Thirty-ninth Meeting Geneva. Retrieved from https://www.who.it/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf
- CBD Oil and Fertility: Do You Have All the Facts? (n.d.) Sol.CBD. Retrieved from https://www.solcbd.com/blogs/news/cbd-oil-and-fertility-have-facts
- Grinspoon, P. (updated June 05, 2019). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Database. Cannabidiol, CID=644019. Retrieved from: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cannabidiol
- Rapino, C.; Battista, N.; Bari, M.; Maccarrone, M. (2014). “Endocannabinoids as biomarkers of human reproduction”. Human Reproduction Update. 20 (4): 501–516. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmu004. ISSN 1355-4786. PMID 24516083. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/20/4/501/832531
- The Endocannabinoid System. Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/science/endocannabinoid-system-0
- Cacciola, G., Chianese, R., Chioccarelli, T., Ciaramella, V., Fasano, S., Pierantoni, R., … Cobellis, G. (2010). Cannabinoids and Reproduction: A Lasting and Intriguing History. Pharmaceuticals, 3(10), 3275–3323. doi:10.3390/ph3103275. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034092/
- The Cannabis Plant: The Difference Between Hemp And Marijuana (April 25, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.cannabiscompliancefirm.com/news/2018/4/25/the-cannabis-plant-the-difference-between-hemp-and-marijuana