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.
What Dosage of CBD Should You Take?
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight
CBD is available in a number of different formulations including creams, tablets, oils, and gummies. These can vary in terms of their ingredients as well as dosages, and there is not a great deal of research available on what dose might be beneficial or safe to treat certain conditions.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not have psychoactive effects. Interest in the use of CBD for health purposes has grown tremendously in the last few years.
CBD is believed to have a range of positive physical and mental health effects. Because of this, it has become increasingly popular as a way to alleviate everything from anxiety to sleep disorders.
In order to determine if CBD is right for you, it is important to consider its potential benefits, side effects, and available research on safe dosages.
CBD is just one of hundreds of different compounds found in the cannabis plant. While cannabis has been used in holistic medicine for many years, only recently have researchers begun to explore some of the medicinal purposes for CBD and other cannabinoids.
While further research is still needed, there is some evidence that CBD may have some beneficial mental health effects. These include:
- Alleviating depression: Some research also indicates that CBD may be useful as a treatment for depression. Studies suggest that the cannabinoid might have an influence on how the brain responds to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in mood. People with depression sometimes have a low level of serotonin, so CBD may help the brain use available serotonin more effectively.
- Improving sleep: While the reasons are not entirely understood and require further research, CBD also appears to have potential as a treatment for sleep problems. For example, one study found that people who took CBD also reported improvements in the quality of their sleep.
- Reducing anxiety: Anxiety is one of the most common types of mental health conditions, affecting almost 20% of American adults each year. Research suggests that CBD may help alleviate acute symptoms of a number of anxiety-related conditions including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
In addition to the mental health benefits, CBD may also have therapeutic benefits for a range of other conditions. The World Health Organization suggests that CBD may have beneficial effects in the treatment of:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple sclerosis
It is important to remember that these benefits have not yet been conclusively proven. More research is needed to determine the role that CBD might play in the treatment of different disorders and health conditions.
There have been a number of studies that suggest that CBD may have a number of different physical and mental health uses. However, more research is still needed to better understand the substance’s potential applications and possible long-term side effects.
A 2019 comprehensive review published in The Lancet Psychiatry looked at previously published studies. The review ultimately concluded that there was little evidence to support the use of CBD for mental health purposes and suggested that more research is needed in order to substantiate its use to treat symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
It is important to remember that this doesn’t mean that CBD isn’t effective. Many of the studies that were included in the review were small, had few participants, and were not randomized controlled trials.
This suggests that more research involving more participants and well-designed studies is needed in order to better understand if, how, and why CBD works.
While its effectiveness is still up for debate, one 2017 review found that it was a relatively safe option. While it is important to remember that there is still a great deal we don’t yet know about CBD and its effects, it is something that you might opt to try to see if you experience any benefits.
How Much Should You Take?
The dosages used in research studies vary and there is no consensus on how much should be used for specific conditions. If you do decide to try CBD, it is also important to note that there is no universally agreed upon dose. Research also suggests that people may respond differently to various dosages, so the amount that is right for your needs might vary.
Some dosages that have been used in research studies for different conditions include:
- Anxiety: 300 to 600 mg
- Bowel disease: 10 mg per day
- Cancer-related pain: 50 to 600 mg per day
- Parkinson’s disease: 75 to 300 mg per day
- Poor sleep: 25 mg per day
- Psychosis: 600 mg per day
One 2020 review of studies found that participants showed improvements in anxiety levels after single doses of CBD ranging from 300 to 600 mg. Such results indicate that the CBD may hold promise as a treatment to alleviate symptoms of acute anxiety.
It is important to remember that you should always talk to your doctor before using CBD if you have symptoms of a serious mental or physical health condition. CBD could potentially worsen symptoms or interact with other medications you are taking.
Looking at the dosage information for the CBD product that has been FDA approved can also be helpful. For Epidiolex, an FDA-approved cannabis-derived medication used to treat seizures in people with certain types of epilepsy, the starting dosage is 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This dose can later be increased to 5 mg per kilogram of body weight twice a day.
Other CBD products are not FDA regulated and do not have officially recommended dosages. This can make it difficult to determine how much you might need, but there are some things you can consider that might help.
- Assess your sensitivity to CBD: Your individual ability to tolerate CBD can also play a role in determining how much you need. If you are very sensitive to the effects of CBD, you should take a small dose. Some people may find that they are not as affected by the substance, so they may need to take a larger dose to notice any beneficial effects.
- Consider individual factors: When you are trying to decide how much CBD to take, there are a number of factors you should consider. These include the formulation and concentration of the capsule, oil drops, or gummies you are taking, the symptoms you are treating, and your age, sex, weight, and overall health. Generally, people with heavier bodies need to take a little more to achieve the same effects. Men may need a larger dose, while older people may need less.
- Consider the symptoms you’re treating: The symptoms you are trying to alleviate can also play a role in the CBD dosage you need to take to see results. In one study, participants who took 25mg of CBD each day had improved sleep quality, although the results were not consistent. However, you might find that you need a lower or higher dose if you are treating another type of condition.
- Try a dosage calculator: Researchers note that while the variety of dosing strategies and formulations make it difficult to determine efficacy, there are a number of online “dose-calculators” available online (such as mydosage.com) that are designed to help people choose the correct dose. The accuracy of such calculators is difficult to assess, but it may be a good place to start.
Before you try CBD, discuss your plan with your doctor. They may be able to recommend a dose and help you better understand any potential risks, complications, side effects, or interactions you might experience.
Start With a Low Dose
Unless your doctor recommends a specific dose, start by taking 10 to 20 mg a day. Take this for a week to ensure that it is well-tolerated and that you don’t experience any unwanted effects or an allergic reaction.
If this dose does not have the desired effect, try increasing in increments of 5mg each week until the desired amount is reached.
In studies, amounts vary from as low as 20 milligrams per day to up to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day. The World Health Organization reports that dosages in clinical research studies typically range between 100 and 800 milligrams per day.
Is It Possible to Take Too Much?
So what is the maximum amount of CBD you should take? Researchers have found that 600 mg per day appears to be safe, but one study suggested that doses of up to 1,500 mg a day are safe and tolerated well.
However, it’s important to remember that research is still in its infancy and experts do not yet fully understand the potential long-term impacts of CBD usage. For that reason, you should always discuss your CBD use with your doctor.
Starting at a lower dose and working your way up to the amount you need may be the best ways to avoid taking too much.
How to Take CBD
The amount of CBD found in a product may depend on different factors, including the formulation and method of administration. CBD products are available in a number of different forms including oils, capsules, tablets, nasal sprays, and gummies.
One of the most popular ways to take CBD is as an oil. Such products are made by combining CBD with some type of carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Some more recently developed products include dietary supplements, foods, beverages, lotions, salves, and cosmetics.
The type of CBD product you choose may depend on what you are trying to treat. If you are looking for general mood improvements, a dietary supplement might be a good option.
If you are targeting specific symptoms of a condition, taking an oil, capsule, or gummy might be a better way to obtain a higher, more concentrated dose.
Topical applications may produce localized effects, but they are unlike to have any mental health benefits.
What Kind Should You Take?
It’s also important to remember that many products don’t contain just CBD on its own. There are three types of CBD available:
- Isolate contains CBD and only CBD.
- Broad-spectrum contains CBD and other cannabinoids, but not THC.
- Full-spectrum contains CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.
It may be helpful to take a broad-spectrum product since research suggests that CBD’s effects may be most beneficial when taken in conjunction with other cannabinoids, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. CBD may also help mitigate some of the effects of THC.
While CBD is generally well-tolerated, this does not mean that you won’t experience any side effects.
Some of the most common side effects that people experience when taking CBD include:
- Appetite changes
- Stomach upset
- Weight changes
Some recent research has generated concerns over the safety and potential long term effects of CBD. One study involved giving mice an equivalent of the maximum dose of the CBD medication Epidiolex, which is used to treat certain forms of epilepsy. The results indicated an increased risk for liver damage as well as concerns over its interaction with other medications.
It is also important to remember that CBD products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some manufacturers make unproven claims about the uses and efficacy of their products. There is also concern about the quality and safety of the products themselves.
One report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that a number of people experienced negative unwanted side effects due to CBD products that contained synthetic CBD, although the products were not labeled as containing such ingredients.
Mislabeling appears to be a fairly common problem with CBD products. In one study, 70% of the CBD products that were sold online contained significantly more of the psychoactive ingredient THC than the label indicated.
Federal law prohibits the sale of products that contain more than 0.3% THC. States laws also vary, so you should always check with your state before buying CBD products online.
A Word From Verywell
If you do decide to take CBD to alleviate an acute or chronic condition, remember that the amount that you take will depend on a variety of factors. Finding the right dosage often takes some experimentation and adjustments. Starting with a low dose and then gradually increasing the amount you take until you achieve the desired effects is the best approach.