EFFECTS OF CANNABINOIDS ON BIPOLAR DISORDER
Politics and the Access to Cannabinoids
With the gradual legalization of medical marijuana in many states, the interest in and the awareness of the medical benefits of cannabinoids have dramatically increased. The demand for cannabinoids as a therapeutic agent has driven industrial hemp back into the American market.
But even with the enactment of the 2014 Farm Bill, which made it legal to grow, cultivate and market industrial hemp in states that allow hemp farming, the laws, research and development, and safe distribution concerning cannabinoids are still far behind the demands for their medical benefits.
The Human Body is Designed to Receive Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds derived from cannabis that work with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is through this system that they exert their effects on the human body. The ECS is present in all mammals and is involved in the regulation of a number of body functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, production of hormones, and regulation of immune and nervous system responses. By regulating these functions, the ECS helps to maintain the body’s homeostasis.
An Effective Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Research suggests that mood disorders are caused by a dysfunctional ECS.
Because cannabinoids work through the ECS, they are believed to have the ability to treat multiple symptoms manifesting from a particular diseases. Depression, anxiety, and psychosis are mood disorders that make up some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Research shows that cannabinoids can be viable therapeutic agents for each of these mood disorders. With more research, cannabinoids could be the safest, most effective, and most natural way to treat bipolar disorder.
Chemistry of Cannabinoids and Bipolar Disorder
Research has also shown that treatment of bipolar symptoms can be enhanced via modulation of cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), anandamide, and cannabidiol (CBD). These cannabinoids have been observed to exert anti-convulsive, anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), and antipsychotic effects to facilitate the treatment of bipolar disorder.
Studies have shown that cannabidiol has anxiety-reducing benefits to humans. It also may have anti-convulsive, anti-stress, and neuroprotective benefits.
The antipsychotic potentials of cannabidiol have been demonstrated by research studies. Administration of cannabidiol may influence the signaling of anandamide, one of the cannabinoids naturally produced by the body, through the inhibition of intracellular metabolism by fatty acid hydrolase (FAAH). Increased levels of anandamide can relieve mood disorders and help treat symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Studies have also highlighted the role of the DA (dopamine system) in mood disorders, including bipolar disorder. The major role of the mesoaccumbens DA system has been highlighted in motivational behaviors and the neural circuitry.
Research conducted to study the effects of antipsychotic drugs are dependent on the hypothesis of glutamate, dopamine and other transmitter substances. These drugs are antagonistic to dopamine D2 receptors which are mostly linked to hyperprolactinemia due to the activity of anterior-pituitary mammotropic cells.
These drugs are referred to as typical antipsychotics which initiate symptoms similar to that of Parkinson’s, while atypical antipsychotics have a high efficacy without causing serious adverse effects, which can be verified by a catalepsy test.
According to Janakiraman, 2016,
“CBD can inhibit glutamate toxicity and offers anti-convulsant and mood-stabilizing benefits, which are similar to the benefits of conventional therapeutic drugs such as valproate and lithium that are indicated for bipolar disorder. In open-label human clinical trials, CBD has significantly reduced psychotic symptoms and normalized motor functions in psychiatric patients. These benefits can be used to treat manic episodes in bipolar disorder patients.”
Cannabinoids influence mood perceptions and exert anti-depressant action by acting as an agonist in central CB1 receptors. 5-HT is believed to be responsible for mood control and implicated in antidepressant-like actions. Research evidence has pointed out the action of CBD in the serotonin (5-HT) system and related neurons. Administration of CB1R agonists such as phytocannabinoids into the ventromedial prefrontal cortex of the brain has resulted in enhanced 5-HT neuronal activity and CB1R-dependent antidepressant-like effects in the experimental animals. This study clearly shows the dose-dependent antidepressant benefit of CBD, which can be particularly useful for the treatment of mood disorders, including bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is laden with impaired verbal fluency and learning disabilities. One particular study suggests that cannabis treatment may improve learning rates quite significantly in patients with bipolar disorder. Comparatively lesser improvements occurred in patients who received conventional treatment such as lithium and antidepressants. A cannabis therapy is usually associated with only a few temporary side effects. Conversely, conventional therapy can cause serious and prolonged adverse effects.
It’s Time to Catch Up
As with diseases like cancer and diabetes, cannabinoids may have a range of beneficial effects on the symptoms of bipolar disorder. So many ailments and their conventional treatments attack individuals on multiple fronts. With their power to access the body through the ECS, cannabinoids can potentially work to alleviate and re-regulate the body’s natural system with fewer side effects than many conventional therapies and treatments.
Studies using cannabinoids to treat animals, and increasingly, humans, are rapidly revealing the benefits of CBD. We—as patients, professionals, clinicians, and loved ones—can no longer afford to not fully explore the potential benefits of cannabinoids and optimize those medical benefits for individuals who suffer from any disease or disorder that CBD may effectively treat.
Parents who have a child who suffers from epilepsy will move to another state in order to have access to legal medicinal marijuana. Should a treatment that makes such a difference in people’s lives that they would uproot and move to another state, really be necessitated by state boundaries and personal experience? Isn’t that what medicine—the health industry—is meant to do—make the best possible treatment available to everyone, everywhere?
Let’s be done with propaganda and lobbyists and fear. Let’s be guided by science, experience, good judgment, and most of all, compassion. Let’s educate the general public on the benefits of cannabinoids, so that we can get on with using those benefits for all of humanity.
Janakirman P (2016). How CBD’s can Effectively Treat Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and Maniac Episodes. Retrieved from http://www.marijuanatimes.org/how-cbds-can-effectively-treat-bipolar-disorder-symptoms-and-manic-episodes/ Accessed on 12 June 2018.
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