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CBD Mood Stabilizers—is It a Thing?



Fresh and reliable scientific data on cannabidiol (CBD), mood disorders, and its efficacy is relatively sparse. The same studies get rehashed over and over again in popular media, so, without formal guidelines available to the public, sourcing reliable information can be daunting. That said, when using CBD, mood changes are possible, according to thousands of anecdotal reports. This is despite research being still limited and somewhat inconclusive. Here we discuss the latest on what CBD can and cannot do for mood disorders and mood swings in an easily accessible Q & A.

Is CBD a Mood Stabilizer? 

The short answer is no, not as such. This is mostly because cannabidiol as a medicine is still vastly under-researched, especially in a clinical population. It also appears to have only been investigated for its potential as a mood stabilizer in a very limited number of clinical studies.

Disorders characterized by unstable moods can be very serious and often require medical intervention. CBD is not a registered medicine for mood disorders yet.

To date, it has been thoroughly tested and FDA-approved only for intractable epilepsy, not for any other indication. The fact that other anticonvulsants (such as valproate) are currently prescribed as mood stabilizers doesn’t automatically mean that CBD will do the same.

So, there is currently no indication that cannabidiol can replace medication such as lithium, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, valproate, and asenapine, nor would it be advisable to attempt this at all.

That’s not to say that it cannot affect mood; read on for more on this.

Is CBD a Mood Stabilizer?

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Does CBD Work for Bipolar Affective Disorder (BAD)? 

As said, research is severely limited and inconclusive.

CBD has characteristics in common with drugs known to benefit affective disorders (such as BAD), and the hypothesis is that CBD may prove to have therapeutic action in these. Yet this theory could so far not be clinically proven, especially for the treatment of manic episodes.

In one small study involving two women suffering from BAD, the researchers concluded that “preliminary data suggest that CBD may not be effective for the manic episode of BAD.” [1]

Another study with a murine model of mania demonstrated that CBD did not present any effect against d-amphetamine-induced hyperactivity. Hyperactivity is a symptom of manic behavior. (It did show neuroprotection against induced oxidative protein damage, though.) [2]

Yet some cannabis (which contains other cannabinoids too, not only CBD) users report that it helps them deal with BAD symptoms, and they swear by it. As is the case with cannabidiol, though, these effects could not be confirmed or replicated in a clinical setup. Cannabis was associated with an increase in the number of hypomanic days, but a decrease in the number of depressed days. So, even the data is swinging in two directions. [3]

Does CBD Work for Bipolar Affective Disorder (BAD)?

Will CBD Help with Menopausal Symptoms? 

Again, this is an understudied area of research, and the available data doesn’t make for a simple answer. It can be speculated that CBD could be useful to attenuate certain menopausal symptoms, such as depression, but that’s about it.

Thus far, it’s been shown that this cannabinoid modulates various functions in the body via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is furthermore increasingly seen that the ECS is involved in endocrine activities of the body, which implicates hormonal activity. Yet so far, this does not seem to include hormones associated with menopause.

One review explains:

An increasing amount of data highlights the role of the system in the stress response by influencing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and in the control of reproduction by modifying gonadotropin release, fertility, and sexual behavior.” [5]

In another study, CBD-treated monkeys responded with slight elevations in luteinizing hormones (LH) and follicle‐stimulating hormones, but this appears to have only been witnessed in males. LH stimulates ovulation in females and the production of androgen in males. So, CBD seems to affect fertility, but a lot more study is needed to determine its role—if any—in hormone changes per se. [6]

Yet, despite these inconclusive reports that still do indicate CBD’s involvement in reproductive and hormonal systems, physicians have been experimenting with the cannabinoid anyway.

Dr. Christopher Shade explains, in an interview with Natural Health Medicine, that in women, the organ with the greatest amount of cannabinoid receptors is the uterus.

I always pair CBD with bitters, and guess what's in the ovaries but bitter receptors. We find such a stabilization of the female cycle by taking those things together.

So, perhaps research is lagging behind what has been known for centuries already—cannabis and CBD have hormone-balancing properties. [9]

RELATED: Can Cannabis Lessen the Impact of Depression on Sexuality?

Can CBD Help with Anxiety and Depression?

The only solid data to date seems to pertain to the antidepressant effect of CBD. Mood disorders characterized by depression are often not easy to treat, even with conventional medicine, but this cannabinoid has shown some promising effects even in laboratory settings.

Using “depressive-like” Wistar-Kyoto rats, one study showed that CBD lifted anhedonic behavior in the animals. Anedonia, which is the inability to feel pleasure, is one symptom of depression that often gives rise to feelings of listlessness, passivity, and no motivation to act or explore. CBD administration in the test animals caused them to move around more and to explore foreign objects, suggesting CBD’s encouraging efficacy in this regard.

So, when taking CBD, mood swings may not be affected as such, but it definitely seems to help against symptoms associated with depression. [7]

Can CBD Help with Anxiety and Depression?

RELATED: How CBD Oil and Antidepressants Interact

However, much more well-designed, clinical study is needed in this regard, also to support the claims of many users who swear by CBD’s apparent ability to soothe anxiety. This is what one of the most recent reviews of the data points out:

There is limited evidence that cannabidiol improves anxiety symptoms, as assessed by a public speaking test, in patients with social anxiety disorder. These positive findings are limited by weaknesses in the study design (e.g., an inadequate description of randomization and allocation concealment), a single dose of CBD, and uncertain applicability to patients with other anxiety disorders. Limited evidence also suggests short-term benefits in patients with chronic pain and associated anxiety symptoms.” [8]

RELATED: CBD, Anxiety Relief, and Your Next Flight

So, evidence suggests that when taking CBD, mood can be affected. However, research doesn’t demonstrate any efficacy in CBD as a mood stabilizer and cannot be recommended or touted as such. Taking CBD for depression might be helpful, and medical cannabis (CBD with a bit of THC) appears to alleviate anxiety in some. Yet serious mood disorders should be addressed with the assistance of a clinical physician only, and any change of medicine should be discussed with a doctor first.

Source:

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881108096521
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/40033088_Effects_of_cannabidiol_on_amphetamine-induced_oxidative_stress_generation_in_an_animal_model_of_mania
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.2007.10399879?src=recsys
  4. https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/27/1/73/2355171
  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15287398009529853
  6. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/125604
  7. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/443890
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425767/
  9. https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2018-01/dr-christopher-shade-discusses-therapeutic-applications-cbd-oil-clinical-practice

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