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CBD for Bipolar Disorder: Does Cannabidiol Benefit Bipolar Disorder?

CBD for Bipolar Disorder: Medical Cannabidiol Health Research + Treatment Guide

cbd for bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, sometimes known as manic depression, is a mental health condition in which diagnosed individuals experience periods of elevated or depressive moods. Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder commonly suffer from impulsive actions and abnormal mood swings, and are typically treated with a range of powerful antipsychotic medications.

Recent research into the health benefits of CBD, however, reveals that cannabidiol extracted from the hemp plant could potentially replace the powerful side effect inducing medications used to treat bipolar disorder and provide individuals diagnosed with the condition with a completely natural alternative.

The causes of bipolar disorder are poorly understood, but are largely influenced by genetics. The condition is generally classified as bipolar I disorder in the case of a single manic episode, and bipolar II disorder if the diagnosed individual has experienced both a manic and a depressive episode.

Treating bipolar disorder can be difficult. Some treatment methods include psychotherapy, but a large portion of the treatment methodology currently used to target bipolar disorder involves the use of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.

These powerful drugs, such as olanzapine, quetiapine, and clozapine can help to minimize the impact of bipolar disorder, but are known to cause a wide range of unwanted side effects. These side effects can include stiffness, shakiness, weight gain, sleepiness, constipation, sexual problems, hormone changes, and even suicidal thoughts.

CBD for bipolar disorder has been proven to function as a surprisingly effective alternative to these medications, and has been demonstrated in a wide range of different clinical investigations to provide relief from the symptoms of the condition without causing any unwanted side effects or health issues.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at the different ways in which CBD can help individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder to improve their health. We’ll assess the interactions between cannabidiol and the brain in order to understand the science that drives CBD for bipolar research and examine the clinical trials that have revealed it to be a powerful therapeutic bipolar disorder treatment.

What is CBD?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid compound that is found in the hemp, or cannabis sativa plant. There are many different active natural compounds in the hemp plant, including THC, which is the psychoactive compound associated with recreational marijuana use.

Cannabidiol, however, is a remarkable cannabinoid compound that possesses properties that make it very dissimilar to THC. Cannabidiol is not psychoactive. CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant via a wide range of different extraction methods, and can be found in virtually every single part of the hemp plant.

Research into the health benefits of cannabidiol has been underway since the early 1990’s, but a new wave of renewed scientific research catalyzed by a loosening of medical marijuana laws in the United States has revealed a broad spectrum of health benefits that this unique natural compound can provide.

CBD has been demonstrated to deliver a wide range of benefits that include decreased inflammation, increased immune system function, protection from a number of different cancers, and has even been demonstrated to function as a powerful antibiotic, or prevent the onset of seizures in individuals diagnosed with epilepsy.

The neurochemical impact of cannabidiol, however, is what makes it highly interesting to individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. One of the biggest advantages cannabidiol offer bipolar-affected individuals is that it is non-habit forming, causes no side effects, and, most importantly, can be purchased without a prescription in most states of the US.

CBD is legal in most states primarily because it does not contain any THC. There are a number of states that do make it possible for suppliers to sell products that contain a combination of THC and CBD, known as tinctures, but these solutions do not offer any specific advantages to individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder over pure CBD products.

Another major feature of CBD for bipolar is the ease of use it offers. CBD can be administered as a simple CBD sublingual drop beneath the tongue, but is also available in edible and topical form. Individuals interested in the health benefits of CBD are able to select from a wide range of CBD gummies, CBD soaps CBD vape pens, CBD bath bombs, and even CBD cooking oil, all of which have been proven to minimize the impact of bipolar disorder.

CBD has been demonstrated to be able to assist with a wide range of mental health conditions, including PTSD, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and bipolar, but is also even able to help with neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

How Does CBD Work?

Every living vertebrate organism on the planet possesses an endocannabinoid system — including humans. This endocannabinoid system is responsible for a wide range of functions, and is able to interact with the immune system, the gastrointestinal system, the endocrine system and, importantly, the brain.

The human body produces “endocannabinoids,” which are cannabinoids created within the human body. Because of this, there are specific receptors in the human body to which these endocannabinoids bind as part of normal bodily function.

Exogenous cannabinoids, or cannabinoids from outside the human body — such as cannabidiol — are able to interact with these same endocannabinoid receptors, with interesting results. Phytocannabinoids extracted from the hemp plant have been observed, for example, to interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the digestive system of the human body and dramatically lower inflammation, making CBD an ideal treatment for individuals suffering from inflammatory disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The ability of CBD to pass through the blood/brain barrier, however, is what makes it so important to individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

When cannabidiol reaches the human brain, and interesting interaction occurs. The human brain produces a hormone called serotonin, which is intrinsically linked to a wide range of mental functions and mood states.

Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder are commonly prescribed with SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which interact with the way the brain uses serotonin. These pharmaceutical chemicals prevent the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain to prolong its usefulness, which has a positive impact on mood balance.

The exact mechanism through which serotonin balances mood and emotion is poorly understood by modern science, but clinical evidence shows that extending the functional lifespan of serotonin in the brain is able to minimize the impact of bipolar disorders. SSRIs achieve this by interacting with receptors in the brain in order to prevent serotonin reuptake.

Cannabidiol works in a similar manner. There are a number of cannabinoid receptors in the human brain that, when modulated by cannabidiol, can attenuate serotonin production and release, delivering a profound positive effect on the cognitive state of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The advantages CBD offers over traditional antipsychotics and SSRIs are compelling — CBD is able to promote mood stability and assist individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder in living a fulfilling life with a stable mental state without causing any deleterious side effects or inducing dependency on any drugs.

To many individuals that have shifted from SSRIs and antipsychotics to CBD for bipolar disorder management, cannabinoid is a highly effective solution that has completely changed the way they interact in daily life.

Can CBD Help With Bipolar Disorder?

The endocannabinoid system is extremely important to the function of the human brain in general. Endocannabinoids are used by the body to regulate a wide range of cognitive and bodily functions, include stress responses and anxiety, moods and emotional responses, sleep cycles, memory retention and learning, metabolic functions, and many more.

When exogenous cannabinoids such as cannabidiol enter the human body, they mimic the function of these endogenous cannabinoids. Importantly, exogenous cannabinoids are far stronger and longer lasting than the endogenous cannabinoid so the human body, and can even help to make endogenous cannabinoids more effective.

There are a range of health benefits provided by CBD to individuals with bipolar disorder

  • Elevated mood
  • Balanced mood
  • Enhanced mood control
  • Emotional stability
  • Decreased stress
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Elimination of bipolar disorder drug side effects
  • Improved energy levels
  • Minimized oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain
  • Improved cognitive ability and memory
  • Improved verbal fluency

CBD helps to minimize the impact of bipolar disorders in three different ways.

Firstly, cannabidiol is able to function as a potent antipsychotic, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety solution. CBD achieves this by modulating specific receptors in the human brain that are responsible for the distribution of the serotonin hormone.

By increasing serotonin levels, CBD is able to deliver mood balance and prevent bipolar episodes. The science behind the way CBD and bipolar disorder works is a little more complex, but the basic way in which it works is primarily concerned with serotonin.

Secondly, CBD is a powerful neuroprotective agent. The human brain can be affected by inflammation in the human body through a process called neuroinflammation. This process is partially responsible for mood disorders and, if left unchecked, can progress into serious neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, or Parkinson’s,

Lastly, cannabidiol is able to promote growth in the hippocampus region of the human brain. The hippocampus is closely linked to a wide range of cognitive functions and is associated with mood balance, emotional control, and memory recall.

Clinical investigations have demonstrated that individuals that have been diagnosed with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, and schizophrenia all possess smaller hippocampi than normal.

CBD has been proven to promote neurogenesis, or the growth of new neuron cells, in these regions.

The Science Behind CBD and Bipolar Disorder

Current clinical science investigating the impact of CBD on the brain reveals that cannabinoids are able to activate a number of receptors that are responsible for serotonin. At medium-level doses, cannabinoids such as cannabidiol are able to activate the 5-HT1A hydroxytryptamine serotonin receptor.

The 5-HT1A receptor is part of a family of receptors that are activated by serotonin. This critical neurotransmitter receptor is found in the brain and both the central and peripheral nervous systems. When CBD passes through the blood/brain barrier, it activates these receptors, catalyzing a cascade of chemical messages between the cells of the human body.

Cannabidiol binds to these receptors but also shows an affinity for other receptors, including the receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system. Overall, CBD functions as a CBD agonist, and is able to modulate the parts of the brain that are responsible for anxiety, sleep, pain, mood, emotional, and addition.

One of the most unique applications of CBD, however, is also what makes it so effective in assisting with the management of bipolar disorders. In addition to modulating the 5-HT1A receptor, CBD is also able to interact with the 5H3TA receptor.

This receptor is closely linked to the nausea response in the brain, making CBD a highly effective anti-nausea solution. For this reason, CBD is often used to treat motion sickness and even assist individuals that are suffering from nausea as a side effect of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

Regulating the nausea response in the body is not the only job of the 5H3TA receptor, however. The 5H3TA receptor is also responsible to a large degree for regulating mood response. Clinical research indicates that cannabidiol compounds are negative allosteric modulators of the 5H3TA receptor.

While this may sound complex, it means that CBD makes the receptor less likely to bind with serotonin. This property means that CBD functions in a very similar manner to traditional antipsychotic medications and SSRIs without causing any of the side effects, dependency, and unwanted health consequences they are associated with.

Clinical Evidence

The use of CBD for bipolar is backed up by an extremely large body of clinical evidence, which includes extensive in vitro and in vivo, with several notable human trials that delivered impressive results.

A clinical investigation published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2008 examined the way in which cannabinoids interact with the 5-HT1A receptors. This trial used an animal model in which male rodents were injected with an injection of CBD in varying doses ranging from 1 to 20mg per kg, with all subjects subsequently subjected to a restraint test that observed their cardiovascular responses.

The results discovered by the clinical investigation revealed that CBD is able to delay high-level emotional responses by modulating the 5-HT1A receptors.

The evidence gathered in this clinical trials supports previous evidence published in an earlier clinical investigation into the efficacy with which CBD can be used to treat bipolar disorder. Published in 1998, the study reveals that cannabinoids can be used as an alternative to lithium, a commonly prescribed antipsychotic medication.

The most widely-cited clinical investigation into the potential benefits of cannabidiol in treating bipolar disorder was published in 2005, identifying cannabidiol as a potential alternative therapy for individuals diagnosed with the condition due to the wide range of sedative, antidepressant, and anxiolytic benefits the compound offers.

Another clinical trial published more recently in 2019 provides concrete evidence that CBD is able to modulate the serotonin pathways of the human brain. In the trial, participants were administered with varying doses of CBD ranging from 0.1 to 10 mg per kg, revealing that CBD is conclusively able to minimize anxiety by activating the 5-HT1A receptor.

CBD Dosage for Bipolar Disorder

The best dosage of CBD for various health conditions can vary greatly depending on a wide range of different factors that include the weight of an individual, their individual metabolic rate, and the benefits they aim to achieve.

Before beginning any CBD dosing routing, it’s essential to first consult with a qualified medical practitioner or doctor. A doctor will be able to tell you whether or not taking up a course of CBD dosing is the best action for your health condition and will advise of any potential interactions between CBD and existing pharmaceutical drug regimes.

To date, there are not any conclusive clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of specific doses of CBD in treating bipolar disorder. Many clinical trials for other mental health conditions have been performed, however, and typically use very high doses of up to 600mg.

It should be noted, however, that many individuals using CBD for various health conditions don’t use such high doses. CBD use for anxiety, for example, is commonly dosed at as little at 5mg per day.

A 25mg per day starting point spread over several sublingual drops is a common starting point for many individuals seeking to determine whether CBD is the right choice for them in managing their bipolar disorder.

When beginning a CBD dosing routine, it’s best to begin with a regular low dose and keep a journal of the health impact of the dose. Increasing the dose incrementally until health benefits are achieved allows individuals to determine the best dosage for them.

As a whole, dosing is extremely subjective, and can depend on the efficacy and strength of the CBD product used, the delivery method, and the health benefit the user is trying to achieve.

Best CBD Products for Bipolar Disorder

As bipolar disorder is a mental health condition, there are many different administration methods that can be used. The mental health benefits of CBD can be achieved by sublingual dosage, via edibles, or transdermal patches.

As a general rule, topical CBD solutions and other CBD products that are applied to the skin are less effective in treating mental health with CBD, as the cannabidiol must travel further to pass through the blood/brain barrier.

Sublingual application of CBD oil for bipolar disorder is arguably the most effective method, as it bypasses the digestive system entirely and allows CBD to enter the bloodstream directly to the brain, where it delivers the best health benefits.

Best CBD Products for Bipolar Disorder

  • CBD oil
  • CBD drops
  • CBD paste
  • CBD gum
  • CBD gummies
  • CBD edibles

CBD Safety

CBD is one of the safest natural health substances available on the market today. Clinical research indicates that there is no upper toxicity limit to CBD dosage, with an extremely high dose of 1500mg demonstrated to be well-tolerated in multiple investigations.

It’s extremely important that you consult with a medical professional or a doctor before beginning a CBD dosing routine. There are a number of mild side effects associated with the use of CBD, which include the following:

  • Mild sedation
  • Sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduction of T and B cells
  • Reduced activity of cytochrome cells
  • Decreased fertilization capability
  • Mild low blood pressure

    Current clinical science proves that CBD, overall, is generally harmless. There are, however, a number of medications that CBD is known to interfere with. These drugs all rely on the CYP450 enzyme, which is made in the liver. This enzyme is important to the metabolism of the following drugs:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Anesthetic
  • Steroids
  • NSAIDs

    If you are taking any of the above drugs it is essential to consult with a doctor before taking CBD products.


Q: What is CBD?

A: CBD is a naturally occurring plant compound that is extracted from the hemp, or cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. CBD interacts with the existing endocannabinoid system found within the human body to modulate a wide range of biological functions, thereby providing a broad spectrum of different health benefits.

Q: Is CBD legal?

A: CBD is not psychoactive and has been approved for sale under strict guidelines in 50 US states as well as a number of international countries. CBD products generally contain less than 0.3% THC, which makes them non-psychoactive and legal for purchase and use.

Q: Is CBD better than other bipolar disorder medications?

A: CBD has been demonstrated to function as an effective antipsychotic and anti-anxiety therapeutic treatment and is used as a replacement for traditional psychiatric medications by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Q: Is CBD able to cure bipolar syndrome?

A: Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition that requires careful management. The use of CBD for bipolar syndrome, however, is an extremely promising alternative therapy.

Q: Is CBD safe?

A: CBD is one of the safest natural compounds available and does not cause any unwanted or dangerous side effects.

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