Marijuana for Morning Sickness — Expecting Mothers Turn to Cannabis for Help

Marijuana for Morning Sickness — Expecting Mothers Turn to Cannabis for Help

Some women glow when they are pregnant. They feel radiantly positive and powerful as they nurture their child. Unfortunately, not all women have the same experience. Morning sickness, especially if it is severe, can take away some of the joy of pregnancy.

Conventional medications may be able to control nausea and vomiting. But sometimes conventional treatment is not enough, so alternative methods are needed to reduce their symptoms. A recent study showed more women are turning to marijuana for morning sickness.

Conflicting Studies on This Controversial Treatment

Using marijuana for morning sickness is, indeed, very controversial.

On one hand, you have studies stating that marijuana is detrimental to the baby’s health. Not only can marijuana trigger preterm labor, but it can also lead to low birth weight. Studies also showed that chronic marijuana use affects the immature brain. Heavy marijuana use can also cause permanent cognitive impairments. It also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

But despite these risks, the number of pregnant women who used marijuana has increased over an eight-year period. From 2006 to 2016, prenatal marijuana use increased from 4.2% to 7.1%. About 8% of these women used marijuana for morning sickness to control mild nausea and vomiting, while 11.3% used marijuana for severe nausea and vomiting.

How Does Marijuana Control Nausea and Vomiting?

hands grab cannabis plant, weed for nausea
Cannabis has been shown as an effective suppressant of nausea in chemotherapy patients (image via the Conversation)

There are several factors that contribute to morning sickness. Firstly, have hormonal changes, stress, fatigue, stomach sensitivity, among others. These factors trigger nausea and vomiting centers of the brain. Once activated, the gastrointestinal smooth muscles contract and expel the stomach’s contents.

Marijuana has the ability to suppress nausea and vomiting centers of the brain. It also works on the gastrointestinal system itself to decrease intestinal motility. Additionally, marijuana also improves our endogenous cannabinoid levels. These chemicals help regulate nausea and vomiting.

Marijuana has powerful antiemetic effects. It can even control treatment-resistant chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Its potent antiemetic property is why marijuana for morning sickness is also effective for some pregnant women.

However, one question begs to be asked. Is marijuana for morning sickness good or bad?

Know What the Experts Say

About 70% of Colorado dispensaries advocate marijuana for morning sickness, as one study revealed. Most of them encourage women to discuss this option with their health care provider though. Unfortunately, a few of them do not.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released a statement that discourages pregnant women from using marijuana for morning sickness. Women who are planning to get pregnant should also avoid marijuana use. So should breastfeeding moms.

Researcher and scientist, Dr. Kelly Young-Wolff of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, also says,

“Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean that it’s safe, especially in pregnant women.”

The use of medical marijuana for a variety of illnesses and diseases is on the rise. But to be on the safe side, women should discuss this option with their primary care physician first. It would also be wise to refrain from using marijuana for morning sickness until there are more conclusive results on the effects of prenatal marijuana exposure.