CBD for bipolar disorder: research and safety

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Bipolar disorder is a mental health problem that causes changes in energy levels, mood, and focus. People with bipolar disorder may experience periods of high energy, also called manic episodes, often followed by depressive episodes.

It can be difficult to diagnose bipolar disorder because not all people with a mental health problem will experience the same behaviors or mood changes. And while most depictions of bipolar disorder in pop culture involve extreme mood swings, not all people with bipolar disorder experience dramatic mood swings.

While the standard treatment for bipolar disorder often involves prescription medication, some people are curious as to whether cannabidiol (CBD) may be another option.

But even though the evidence suggests that CBD may have health benefits for conditions like anxiety and depression, there is still a lot researchers don’t know.

This article examines whether CBD can help with bipolar disorder and whether it is safe for people with mental health problems to use CBD.

CBD is a substance called a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are found in cannabis plants. Other cannabinoids include cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD produces mild effects and no obvious “highâ€.

There are three types of CBD:

  • Isolate: This pure form of CBD does not contain any additional compounds from the cannabis plant.
  • Broad spectrum : This form of CBD contains compounds from cannabis plants other than CBD, including terpenes and other cannabinoids, but no THC.
  • Full spectrum: This form of CBD contains the full spectrum of the substances of the cannabis plant. It also contains a small amount of THC.

CBD comes in many different forms, including:

There is little information about the effects of CBD in people with bipolar disorder. Corn available evidence doesn’t really support the idea that CBD can help with bipolar disorder.

A 2020 review, for example, suggests that CBD may help reduce symptoms of mental health issues like social anxiety and schizophrenia. However, the review concludes that the evidence for the use of CBD for bipolar disorder is weak and requires further study.

Likewise, other research journals of 2020 and 2021 note that there is not enough evidence to support cannabinoids (including CBD and THC) for affective disorders, such as bipolar disorder. Another review points out that there are not many clinical trials going on in this area and that more research is needed.

A 2015 study even suggests that cannabis use may negatively impact people with bipolar disorder by reducing their chances of long-term remission. However, it’s important to note that cannabis – sometimes referred to as marijuana – contains higher levels of THC than CBD products. And people with bipolar disorder can be more likely to use cannabis in the first place.

Yet there is evidence that CBD can help with stress, anxiety, and depression. The potential ability of CBD to help fight depression may benefit people with bipolar disorder who are experiencing an episode of depression. But this area of ​​research is also ongoing.

The human body is equipped with an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps keep systems functioning properly. SEC is made up of endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors.

Your body naturally produces endocannabinoids. The two that experts know about are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). These bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your body and trigger specific effects like pain relief. Once the endocannabinoids are done their job, the enzymes break them down.

Experts still don’t know exactly how ECS works, but research suggests it could be involved in:

  • metabolism
  • chronic pain
  • mood
  • to sleep
  • inflammation
  • immune system responses
  • stress
  • appetite and digestion
  • learning and memory

Because CBD is a cannabinoid, it can bind to endocannabinoid receptors in your body. But experts don’t know how ECS and CBD interact. Some believe that CBD prevents enzymes from breaking down endocannabinoids, but that’s only a theory.

What researchers are pretty sure of is that CBD and THC work better together than on their own. This happens due to the entourage effect. This is why full spectrum CBD can have more pronounced effects than other forms of CBD.

If you want to reap all the benefits of CBD, go for full-spectrum products, unless you’re trying to avoid THC. In this case, it is better to use a broad spectrum or isolated product.

CBD is considered safe to use, according to the World Health Organization.

However, over-the-counter CBD products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And although the FDA sends warning letters to companies making false health claims about CBD, it does not regulate what actually goes into each CBD product. This means that the quality can vary considerably.

Side effects

CBD is less likely to cause side effects than THC. Nevertheless, it is possible to experience mild side effects such as:

  • diarrhea
  • weight changes
  • appetite changes

If you decide to give CBD a try, find the brand that interests you. Not all brands are high quality, and some may not contain what they claim to do.

The best way to be sure what you are eating is to examine a product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA) before purchasing it. The certificate of authenticity must come from a reputable third-party laboratory and must tell you exactly what tests your product has been subjected to. This includes testing for the levels of:

  • CBD, THC and other cannabinoids
  • terpenes
  • contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides and mold
  • residual solvents

You can also check the reputation of the brand, by searching for any FDA warning letters or lawsuits, as well as what past customers have to say about the brand.

Finally, browse the brand’s website to see how transparent they are about their manufacturing process and sourcing of ingredients.

Typically, doctors treat bipolar disorder using a combination of the following:

These treatments are supported by more research than CBD.

Finding the right treatment for any mental health problem can be difficult, as symptoms often differ greatly from person to person.

Anecdotally, some people say that taking CBD helps relieve their anxiety and depression. But it’s important to remember that CBD is not a substitute for traditional mental health therapies.

If you have a mental health problem like bipolar disorder, talk to a mental health professional about the treatment options available. And if you’re already taking medications for bipolar disorder, keep taking them and talk to your doctor before taking CBD. Some drugs, including lithium, can interact with CBD.

Is CBD Legal? CBD products derived from hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) are legal at the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. CBD products derived from marijuana are illegal at the federal level, but are legal under certain state laws. Check the laws of your state and those of any place you travel. Keep in mind that non-prescription CBD products are not approved by the FDA and may be labeled inaccurately.


Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine with a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not clicking on her keyboard, she probably has her nose in a good book.


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