CBD for Bipolar Disorder – June 2022
Bipolar spectrum disorders, or bipolar disorder, is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood changes. Common psychiatric symptoms that are associated with a person who is bipolar include manic episodes, elevated moods, and risky behavior.
In the United States, bipolar disorder is a significant public health problem with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 3.9% in the general population (5 ) . A study in 2017 also confirms that the mortality rates in individuals with the disorder are increasing (6 ) .
Lithium (Lithobid, Eskalith) has been used since the 1960s and is considered the cornerstone of maintenance treatment for the said condition. This popular medication, however, does come with side effects, with the most prevalent being renal disease, diarrhea, and tremors (7 ) .
A study in 2018 states that half of all bipolar individuals taking lithium decide to stop their treatment despite its proven benefits. In the review, 54% out of 873 patients discontinued lithium therapy, with the majority claiming they did it due to the adverse effects it had on their bodies (8 ) .
Doctors often prescribe antipsychotic medications in conjunction with lithium for added benefits. Although showing a positive effect, these conventional drugs may cause weight gain, dyskinesia, sedation, depression, and sexual dysfunction (9 ) .
That is why patients who do not respond well to lithium therapy are seeking alternative somatic treatments to help them cope with their bipolar disorders. Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is considered by many as a potent alternative due to its neurological benefits.
Researchers carried out a combination of scientific studies on both animals and humans in 2018. The research investigates the current clinical use of medical Cannabis and CBD for mental wellness.
The review found that phytocannabinoids, such as CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), demonstrate significant neuroprotective properties and disease reduction in various neurological conditions (10 ) . These findings hint that products made from CBD may benefit people with bipolar disorders.
How CBD Oil Works to Help with Bipolar Disorders
The human brain relies on signaling molecules called neurotransmitters, which contribute in regulating a person’s mood, feelings, thoughts, and behavior. What powers this system of neurotransmitters, along with its relevant receptors, is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS) (11) .
These transmitters are created within the body, which is why they are known as endocannabinoids. Anandamide and 2-AG are two main endocannabinoids that have been discovered and studied thoroughly.
Clinical trial research has also shown that the human body also responds to external cannabinoids. These external cannabinoids are seen in CBD, which is extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant, including hemp and medical marijuana (12 ) .
These exogenous cannabinoids mimic the same effects of endocannabinoids as they interact and communicate with receptors in the ECS. A few functions that are regulated by this system include moods, emotional responses, and neuroprotection.
Since the ECS plays a crucial role in many functions in the body, researchers believe that imbalances here are what causes health concerns to arise. This theory is also why case studies are being made around supplementing the endocannabinoid system with CBD to bring about its benefits (13 ) .
Although research studies on CBD for bipolar disorders are few and far between, it appears that cannabidiol generates a similar response in the body as with medications used in treating the condition. CBD is said to have neuroprotective properties that may alleviate the symptoms of bipolar affective disorder.
A study in 2015 investigates the anti-depressive qualities of CBD, which concluded that the compound lowered the symptoms of depressive episodes in mice. Likewise, studies also show how CBD offers neuroprotection, with anecdotal reports of patients consuming CBD to cope with the symptoms of depression and mania (14 ) .
There are several studies in 2018 that show growing evidence of cannabidiol as a potential antipsychotic treatment. Reports further suggest that CBD does have neuroprotective effects, hinting that it could treat psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorders (15-16 ) .
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Bipolar Disorders
- Studies mentioned earlier suggest that CBD provides neuroprotective properties and disease reduction that could alleviate symptoms related to bipolar disorders.
- Since phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol can contribute to regulating the transmitters in the ECS, CBD may be useful in managing hypomania and depressive symptoms in specific individuals.
- Although it is a component of the Cannabis plant, CBD is a non-psychoactive agent and does not cause intoxication, unlike THC (17 ) .
- CBD is safe for humans and has a much better side effect profile when used as a treatment for medical conditions (18 ) .
- There is no clear indication that CBD is a reliable treatment for bipolar disorders, primarily since most data are based on anecdotal reports.
- As with any treatment, CBD may also have possible side effects, which include diarrhea, drowsiness, dry mouth, and reduced appetite.
- The legal status of CBD is still under investigation, which means that existing federal laws can quickly change in the following months and years.
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Bipolar Disorders
Lithium, together with antipsychotic prescription medications used in treating bipolar spectrum disorders, can effectively manage the symptoms related to the said condition. However, these treatments can have adverse reactions to the body, with the worse being kidney failure and tremors.
On the other hand, CBD offers a natural alternative to these synthetic drugs, possessing a relatively excellent safety profile. The World Health Organization (WHO) mentions that CBD is tolerated well in patients and that no signs of severe side effects or toxicity were noted with its use (19 ) .
Currently, the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved CBD product is Epidiolex, a medication used in treating seizure disorders. However, further research is underway on the potential use of CBD in various neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases (20 ) .
How to Choose the Right CBD for Bipolar Disorders
There are three types of CBD oil available right now, which are full-spectrum (CBD with traces of THC and other terpenes), broad-spectrum (CBD without THC), and isolates (pure CBD). Since THC is the primary psychoactive component of Cannabis, it may be best to avoid using CBD products that contain this chemical.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil or even isolates may be the best choice for people with bipolar disorders since they do not contain THC, which could amplify the condition.
Regardless of the CBD product recommended by their physicians, patients must be careful in selecting the right CBD for their needs.
- Research on the exact legal stipulations applicable to cannabis use in the area where it would be purchased and used.
- Purchase only from legitimate and reliable big brands. The majority of companies that manufacture the best CBD oil products grow their hemp from their farm, or they purchase from licensed hemp producers.
- When buying from an online store, do some research on product reviews first. When purchasing from a physical store or dispensary, check whether the store is authorized by the government to sell CBD.
- One important thing to look for in CBD products is certification codes. Several certification authorities approve certain products only after some thorough screening tests.
- Compare company claims about their products’ potency with that of the third-party lab reports.
- Consulting with a trusted medical professional who is experienced in CBD use is ideal before purchasing any CBD product.
CBD Dosage for Bipolar Disorders
The federal laws on CBD use are still in flux, which means that the FDA has not released a recommended dosage for its products. Some doctors state that CBD dosing is dependent on each individual, and may require a few tries to get it right.
Since there is no recommended dosage for CBD, the golden rule seems to revolve around taking it slow. It seems best to start with a low dose and gradually build this up over time until the patient experiences relief from their symptoms.
- Low-Strength – mild anxiety or depression , periods of above-average stress, daily maintenance for asymptomatic bipolar disorder
- Medium-Strength – moderate bipolar symptoms, high stress, depression, insomnia
- High-Strength – severe bipolar symptoms, anxiety, and insomnia
The majority of bipolar patients may find relief upon taking medium or high-strength CBD doses, but this still depends on each individual.
How to Take CBD Oil for Bipolar Disorders
CBD manufacturers invented various ways to consume their products. Today, CBD is available in different delivery formats that match personal requirements or preferences.
Here are the most common ways to take CBD oil for bipolar disorders.
CBD placed in tinctures are the most prevalent forms of CBD supplements people can find because of how easy they are to administer. A dropper is often provided with these tinctures, allowing users to measure the number of drops suggested by their doctor.
Another popular way to consume CBD is through capsules because of how easy they are to include in a routine. Consuming CBD in this format is more convenient and straightforward than tinctures because the dose in each capsule is consistent.
There are also CBD oil vapes sold by some producers that provide an accelerated means for the compound to enter the body since it goes directly into the bloodstream. Although the effects of vaping CBD oil is felt in just a few minutes, its effects do not last as long as the tincture and capsule formats.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness that is generally identified by having extreme mood changes and shifts in energy levels. A person suffering from the disorder can show bipolar symptoms, which include elevated moods, excessive and fast-talking, increased energy and decreased need for sleep, hypomanic episodes, and risky behavior.
Bipolar disorders in the U.S. account for 3.9% in the general population, with mortality rates increasing according to a study in 2017.
Lithium is considered as the mainstay treatment for bipolar disorders and is often used together with antipsychotic medications. Despite being useful as mood stabilizers, these conventional drugs do come with side effects such as dyskinesia (strange movements of body parts), depressive episodes, sexual dysfunction, renal disease, and tremor.
Patients that are not responding well to such treatments are seeking alternative somatic therapy that can help them cope up with their bipolar condition. The use of Cannabis and CBD is considered by many as a potential alternative due to its neuroprotective properties.
Studies indicate that phytocannabinoids, including CBD and THC, demonstrate significant neurological benefits that could positively affect a range of neurological conditions. These findings suggest that CBD products may be an effective treatment for the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
CBD Oil for Bipolar Disorder: Does It Help, Dosage, & How to Use
Bipolar disorder is a condition involving unusual shifts in mood, focus, and energy.
There’s some evidence that CBD can help, but there are a few cautions to be aware of too.
Bipolar disorder affects between 0.4% and 1.6% of the world’s population, according to recent reports. This means roughly 70 million people around the planet suffer from bipolar disorder to some degree.
There are treatment options available — however, they often come with a myriad of negative side-effects, and often don’t work at all.
Cannabidiol (CBD), has been shown to protect the brain from damage and support healthy neurotransmitter function. Through these effects, it’s believed to reduce the severity of the bipolar disorder and help those affected to maintain a more stable mood throughout the day.
Here, we’ll explore the role CBD plays in maintaining mood, how to use CBD for bipolar disorder, and when to avoid it.
Let’s get started.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on October 20, 2021
Table of Contents
$49 – $229
Royal CBD Oil 30 mL
5 / 5
|Total CBD:||500 – 2500 mg|
|Potency:||16.6 – 83.3 mg/mL|
|Cost per mg CBD:||$0.12 – $0.18|
The Benefits of CBD Oil For Bipolar Disorder
Using CBD for bipolar disorder isn’t a new concept, and there’s currently one phase II clinical trial underway comparing the long-term effects of CBD with the effects of a placebo in patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
In order to get to this stage of research, CBD needed to pass similar tests with flying colors. If it failed any of the studies prior to this phase II clinical trial, it wouldn’t have been approved for use in the study.
Previous studies found that CBD offers a clear benefit to mood disorders with little to no side-effects.
The benefits of CBD for bipolar disorder include:
- Relieves common side effects such as anxiety or insomnia
- Helps stabilize mood & alleviates depression
- Regulates the endocannabinoid system (involved with the cause of bipolar disorder)
Although there are clear benefits to using CBD with bipolar disorder, there are some important cautions to be aware of before deciding if it’s right for you or not.
Best CBD Products For Bipolar Disorder
Caution #1: The Type of CBD Product You Use Matters
Some cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, including THC, can actually make bipolar disorder significantly worse. Therefore, it’s critical that the CBD product you purchase contains low levels of THC to avoid this.
For bipolar disorder, it’s recommended that only a high-grade, full-spectrum extract with third-party lab testing to confirm the cannabinoid profiles of the product is used.
The other option is to use a CBD isolate — which contains nothing but active CBD.
Caution #2. Other Medications Need to Be Considered
Bipolar disorder is usually treated with powerful antipsychotic drugs. These medications alter neurotransmitters in the brain. Users need to be cautious when taking other supplements, including herbs and nutritional supplements such as CBD oil because it can be difficult to predict how they interact with prescription medications.
Always consult your doctor before trying CBD for bipolar symptoms to check for drug-herb interactions.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic changes in mood, behavior, and energy levels.
The root of the condition is the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA, glutamate, and others all fluctuate and interact throughout the day to regulate our moods.
Everybody’s mood fluctuates to some extent — we have periods of feeling joy and periods of discomfort and irritability. This is normal — however, in bipolar patients, these fluctuations are far more severe, often making it difficult to perform daily activities such as complete work or socially interact.
The specific neurotransmitters responsible for bipolar symptoms can vary, and in many cases, the exact cause is never truly identified.
This makes the condition hard to treat, and much of the treatment in a hospital is done through trial and error — patients try a drug and wait to see if it produces results. If not, they try the next one in line until they find something that relieves their symptoms.
Bipolar disorder causes episodes of extreme emotion that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks at a time. Episodes can range from mild to extreme.
There are three primary types of episodes experienced by those with bipolar disorder.
1. Manic Episodes
The brain is in a state of hyperactivation, which can make people seem intense or overly happy. During manic episodes, those affected tend to have a lot of energy. They can seem highly motivated and euphoric and tend to develop side-effects such as anxiety and insomnia.
Manic episodes can become dangerous as they can make people reckless and may bring negative side-effects such as paranoia, psychosis, or delusions.
2. Hypomanic Episodes
A hypomanic episode is similar to a manic episode — but tends to be less extreme. It’s often considered a halfway point between mania and depression.
People experiencing hypomania are often able to continue their normal responsibilities, but find it more challenging to avoid distraction or bursts of anxiety.
3. Major Depressive Episodes
Major depressive episodes are the opposite of manic episodes. It causes those affected to have low motivation. They may feel tired and sluggish and can feel severely depressed. They often go through periods of social isolation, and some experience thoughts of suicide or death.
The Causes of Bipolar Disorder
There’s no single cause of bipolar disorder. It’s a combination of many factors ranging from genetic inheritance to environmental and social influences.
Some of the Known Causes of Bipolar Disorder Include:
Are There Any Treatment Options For Bipolar Disorder?
Treating bipolar disorder is difficult because the cause is hard to determine.
The best treatment for the condition comes in the form of psychiatric therapy to determine potential triggers and underlying causes such as a history of abuse or mental stresses.
Other causes, such as hormone imbalances, should also be tested for and treated as necessary.
In terms of symptomatic support, there are a few pharmaceutical medications effective for treating bipolar disorder.
Medications Used to Control Bipolar Symptoms
- Mood stabilizers (lithium, valproic acid, carbamazepine)
- Antipsychotics (Abilify, Zyprexa, Latuda)
- Antidepressants (Sertraline)
- Antidepressant-antipsychotics (Symbyax)
- Anticonvulsants (Depakote, Tegretol)
Other Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
- Hospitalization during extreme episodes of mania or depression
- Nutritional support
- CBD supplementation
- Herbal medicine
- Removal of mental stresses
- Sensory deprivation
- Support groups
How to Use CBD for Bipolar Disorder Safely
CBD alleviates many of the common symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, there are also reports of people who had their symptoms magnified due to cannabis use. This is mainly due to the THC content in marijuana, which is neuro-stimulating and can aggravate symptoms.
For this reason, it’s not safe for people with bipolar disorder to consume marijuana that has a high THC content.
To use this supplement safely, it’s important to find CBD oils, capsules, or edibles confirmed to be low in THC and high in therapeutic CBD.
It’s also crucial that you speak with your doctor before taking CBD for bipolar disorder to make sure the compound won’t interact negatively with the medications you’re taking.
Once your doctor has approved you to start taking CBD to alleviate symptoms of bipolar disorder, you need to find the right product to use and determine the best dose of CBD.
There are many different ways you can take CBD. Here, we’ll discuss the most common options in detail and how they can be used alongside a bipolar diagnosis.
1. CBD Oils & Tinctures
CBD oils and tinctures are the most common forms of CBD supplementation because it allows for simple and precise dosing.
They’re made by mixing a CBD extract with oil. CBD oils easier to consume because pure CBD or cannabis resin comes as tiny crystals or a sticky, oily, resin — both of which make it difficult to measure the dose accurately.
As an oil, the dose is measured by counting the number of drops using the provided dropper.
CBD oils and tinctures come in a variety of potencies. It’s recommended that you choose a potency that best matches the dose you aim to take. Use our CBD oil dosage calculator to find your approximate dosage.
2. CBD Capsules
CBD capsules provide another popular method of consuming CBD. They take away a lot of the guesswork when it comes to dosing and make it easy to take your CBD on the go.
CBD capsules also come in both low-potency and high-potency options.
Many people who take a variety of capsules throughout the day with their other medications or supplements find this form the easiest to integrate into their daily routines.
3. CBD Edibles
CBD edibles are a great option for people who don’t like the taste of the oils or tinctures and want to avoid swallowing capsules.
They come in all different forms — from CBD-infused honey to CBD chocolates.
The only downside to edibles is that the amount of CBD they contain is often unreliable, making dosing inconsistent.
For a condition such as bipolar disorder, it’s important to be consistent with your CBD use — something that edibles aren’t always able to provide.
4. CBD E-Liquids & Vape Oils
CBD vape pens & vape oils provide the most efficient form of dosing because bioavailability through the lungs is much higher than it is through the digestive tract.
Vaping is a good option for people with bipolar disorder because it offers fast relief from symptoms. It’s also one of the most portable methods of taking CBD.
What’s The Dose of CBD Oil For Bipolar Disorder?
Deciding on the right dose of CBD can take some trial and error. Everybody responds to this compound differently, so a little bit of self-testing is needed to find the right dose. This is also the case with most of the pharmaceutical bipolar medications used.
It’s best to start with a low dosage and build up gradually over time until you find relief from your symptoms.
In most cases, people with bipolar disorder won’t start to experience benefits until they reach the medium- or high-strength doses. Some people even require doses outside the listed range. The only way to find out your optimal dose is to test it.
With that said, you can use our dosage calculator below to find the approximate dose based on your weight and desired strength.
General Dosage Ranges for Psychological Disorders
|Low-Strength CBD||Medium-Strength CBD||High-Strength CBD|
|• Mild depression or anxiety
• Periods of higher-than-average stress
• Daily maintenance dose for asymptomatic bipolar disorder
|• Moderate bipolar symptoms
• High stress
|• Severe bipolar symptoms
• Severe insomnia
Most bipolar patients take a medium- or high-strength dose of CBD — however, this can vary from one person to the next.