Most women wonder about the safety of consuming hemp seeds in pregnancy since it comes from commercial hemp plants (Cannabis sativa) that belong to the same species as marijuana. Hemp seeds are brown, nutty-flavored seeds packed with essential nutrients such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Pregnant women need these nutrients for optimal growth and development of the baby.
Read this post about the possible benefits and risks of ingesting hemp seeds in pregnancy.
Safety Of Hemp Seeds For Pregnant Women
The US Food And Drug Administration (US FDA) recognizes hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein powder, and hemp seed oil safe for human consumption (1). Although commercial hemp seeds and marijuana come from the same species, they are derived from different varieties or cultivars.
Hemp plants are a Cannabis sativa cultivar with less than 0.3% of THC, which is the psychoactive substance of marijuana. Hemp plants may contain more cannabidiol (CBD), which is a non-psychoactive substance. The compounds THC and CBD are mostly found in the stems, flowers, and leaves (2).
Hemp seeds may contain a minuscule amount of THC and CBD, but these are insufficient to cause any psychogenic effects. The FDA says that “these amounts are low enough to not raise concerns for any group, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers (3).” Nevertheless, THC and CBD are cannabinoids that could affect the mother and her baby’s health in high doses. Thus, consult your doctor to know if you can consume hemp seeds and in what quantity.
Nutritional Value Of Hemp Seeds
Whole hemp seed has a crisp outer covering and a soft center. When the whole seed is hulled (outer covering removed), it leaves a soft center behind, known as hemp heart, shelled hemp, or hemp nut.
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.24mg||15mg|
Source: US Food Data Central and Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2020-2025
Possible Health Benefits Of Hemp Seeds During Pregnancy
Hemp hearts are a highly nutritious food that contains several nutrients beneficial for you and your baby. Here’s how regular consumption of hemp seeds in moderation and as a part of a healthy, well-balanced diet may benefit you.
- Support body functions: Hemp seeds have several nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron. Your body requires these nutrients to carry out different body functions essential for a healthy pregnancy. For instance, hemp seeds contain a considerable amount of iron which could help avert iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in pregnancy. IDA may lead to complications in the newborn, such as premature birth, low birth weight, or poor growth (6).
- Aid baby’s growth and development: Hemp hearts contain significant amounts of plant protein that can contribute to your total protein requirement. Pregnant women need more protein during pregnancy to support the growth of fetal tissue (including the brain) and breast and uterine tissues. Also, it plays a pivotal role in increasing your blood supply (7). Additionally, hemp seeds have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which help in healthy fetal brain and eye development (8).
- Keeps digestive system healthy: Expecting mothers between the ages of 19 and 30 require 28 to 36g of fiber per 1000 calories (5). Three tablespoons of hemp seeds offer 1.2 grams of dietary fiber, which can contribute to your total fiber needs (4). Consuming optimum amounts of fiber is vital to add bulk to the diet and maintain healthy bowel movements, which helps keep constipation and related issues away.
- Maintains heart health: Hemp seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in ratios that promote heart health (9). Additionally, they contain high amounts of magnesium, which facilitates the active transportation of potassium and calcium across the cell membrane and supports normal heartbeat (10).
Besides these, hemp seeds contain several bioactive compounds that confer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that promote overall health and well-being (11).
Possible Side Effects Of Hemp Seeds During Pregnancy
Hemp seeds have several benefits, but they may have certain side effects. Here’s what you should know, especially when you are consuming hemp seeds for the first time.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Consuming hemp seeds may cause upset stomach or diarrhea in sensitive individuals. Hence, ingest only a small amount of hemp seeds, such as half a teaspoon, for the first time. Then, gradually increase the quantity, depending on your digestion.
- Allergy: Hemp seed allergy isn’t common but possible (12). The symptoms of hemp seed allergy include wheezing, abdominal cramps, hives or skin rash, and eye redness. In rare cases, severe reactions, such as anaphylaxis, may also occur.
- Drug interaction: Hemp seeds could interact with drugs that support blood clotting, such as anticoagulants (warfarin), and treat irregular heartbeat (digoxin). Consuming diuretics with hemp seeds may cause dangerously low potassium levels, which could adversely affect your heart.
Other Hemp Seed Products You Can Have During Pregnancy
Besides hemp seeds, mothers can include hemp seed oil, hemp seed milk, and hemp seed protein powder in their diet. These hemp seeds products contain little or no THC and CBD and are usually safe for pregnant women.
However, to ensure your and your baby’s safety, you must talk to your healthcare professional. Depending on your and your child’s health, your healthcare provider will guide you on whether these products are safe for you and in what quantities.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is hemp seed oil lotion safe during pregnancy?
Hemp seed oil is rich in PUFA, which may help reduce skin dryness and itchiness (13). However, the safety and efficacy of topical application of hemp seed for the mother and her baby aren’t known. Hence, mothers should consult their doctor before using hemp seed oil or hemp seed-containing products during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
2. Does hemp seed oil help with stretch marks?
No research studies or clinical trials exist to support using hemp seed oil to reduce or remove stretch marks. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are keen to use hemp seed oil for stretch marks.
Hemp seeds are nutrient-rich foods that can provide several health benefits. The seeds must be consumed in small quantities to avoid potential overconsumption of THC and CBD. You must speak to your healthcare provider before consuming hemp seeds. Consume hemp seeds in moderation by including them in various food items in your diet.
- Hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein powder, and hemp seed oil are considered safe to consume as per the US FDA.
- Hemp seeds aid fetal development and improve the mother’s digestion.
- Consult your dietician before consuming hemp seeds to avoid gastrointestinal issues or certain allergies
- FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD).
- Defining Hemp: A Fact Sheet.
- What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding.
- Seeds, hemp seed, hulled, FDC ID: 170148.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.
- Anemia in Pregnancy.
- Pregnancy Nutrition.
- Pregnant Safe Sources of Omega-3 Fats.
- Barbara Farinon et al.; (2020); The Seed of Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.): Nutritional Quality and Potential Functionality for Human Health and Nutrition.
- Luana Izzo et al.; (2020); Chemical Analysis of Minor Bioactive Components and Cannabidiolic Acid in Commercial Hemp Seed Oil.
- Kristen Bortolin et al.; (2016); Case Series of 5 Patients with Anaphylaxis to Hemp Seed Ingestion.
- S Sapino et al.; (2005); Hemp-seed and olive oils: their stability against oxidation and use in O/W emulsions.