How CBD Works - How does CBD work for Bipolar
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It’s not a small deal.
Just under 6 million people in the US alone will experience a bipolar episode.
That’s almost 3% of the total population.
Just one person matters if it’s you or a loved one.
Before we get into the endocannabinoid system and CBD, let’s look at all the new and different research on what is going on.
Yes, we know that neurotransmitters are lurking there.
But bodies and brains are complicated.
We’ll get into it.
What about the role for bipolar with:
As we said, this isn’t your father’s bipolar article.
We’ll get an overview of where the research is and then we’ll dive into CBD and its stage, the endocannabinoid system.
You can jump right to the best CBD for bipolar here:
Otherwise, feel free to jump to any of these sections:
Let’s jump into it!
The top 10 sites with a google search for bipolar give a pretty good and traditional overview of the symptoms, mechanics, and triggers for bipolar.
Consequently, they tend to be a bit staid in their treatment of it.
There’s lots of new research especially on the triggers, genetics, and unique correlations with bi-polar.
We’re in a unique period where illnesses that didn’t change much for 50 years are seeing updates weekly.
Big and unexpected ones!
The first thing you start to notice after reading 100’s of these studies is this…
Hormones. Neurotransmitter. Immune response (the new kid on the block). Genetics. Environment.
They all interplay!
Let’s look at how this works with bi-polar.
We’ll follow the researcher’s understanding of the disease from early on to recent.
Researchers found rather early on the dysregulation of neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, glutamate, and others).
Rather than get bogged down in the chemistry, these pathways (among others) govern:
All are hallmarks of bi-polar symptoms (swings too high and too low).
So neurotransmitters are the levers at work in the swings!
Many of the suspected genes are pointing to the sensitivity and function of these different neurotransmitters.
Of course, these chemicals don’t operate in a vacuum and that’s where the new research gets interesting.
Rather than using a hammer on a given neurotransmitter (SSRIs, lithium), let’s look at the downstream causes and triggers before we look at the endocannabinoid system and CBD specifically (exciting research there).
We’ll start with the common dance partners for neurotransmitters (if not the music itself)…hormones.
Look at the possible areas that can swing above.
Okay, we get the point.
This is a smaller subset for men but some men’s body aggressively turns testosterone into estrogen!
More detail here:
To rule either out, go get a Dutch test or the equivalent.
Dutch is the gold standard to see how your body actually metabolizes hormones.
This is mandatory for women age 40 and older!
View Dre’s Story on Perimenopause here to see how that can go badly.
Men also need this test to make sure testosterone is adequate and is metabolizing the right way.
Just a head’s up…your general doctor and even many OBGyn’s will have no idea what you’re talking about.
That could be a sign!
Get the Dutch test (or equivalent) and rule out hormones first.
This is especially true for rapidly cycling bipolar episodes.
That’s a clue!
A further feather in the hormone imbalance as culprit cap is the curious tie with traditional periods of hormone imbalance.
Such as pregnancy:
The above article is an awesome resource to try and tease out whether hormones are significant in a given case!
There is also the link between PMS, monthly cycle, and worsening bipolar symptoms:
Think of three levels of orchestration:
We’ll look at that later but the keyword for bipolar is….balance!!
Now, on to the new rising star in bipolar potential!
Mark our words.
All roads in the future of medical leads to Rome.
Rome is the Immune system.
It’s popping up in the most unpredicted places:
First, go get the book The Inflamed Brain by Edward Buller.
Must read for bi-polar (and really anyone with a brain…literally).
The first clue was when inflammatory markers were shown to be elevated in people with Bipolar.
Just read the list of triggers here:
What do they all have in common?
Acute or chronic STRESS.
What’s our body’s reaction to stress?
Inflammation and immune response.
If your skin is stressed (by infection, injury, allergies, etc) the effects are obvious.
Redness. Inflamed. Swelling. Etc.
But what if your nervous system or the brain itself is stressed?
What’s the symptom?
Take one of the most common triggers for bipolar…disruption in sleep.
A recent study showed that lack of sleep looks just like acute anxiety in the brain under scans.
The inflammatory response raises significantly in the brain as a result.
Studies show that inflammatory agents in the brain cross the blood-brain barriers:
This triggers an imbalance that goes to the heart of both manic and depressive episodes:
This is very intriguing since both swings are affected!
The balancing system itself rather than just one neurotransmitter.
New research is pointing to the systems that the brain and central nervous system use to remove toxins from cells:
This just means that the immune response in the brain affected neurotransmitters (like serotonin) directly.
You can learn all about CBD and Inflammation here.
As we mentioned…all roads lead to the immune system and that’s located smack in the gut!
That’s our next logical stop from inflammation.
The most exciting and surprising studies these days deal not with our bodies but the trillions of bacteria that live in and on them.
The gut bacteria are the most intriguing.
Serotonin is a key component of bipolar disease.
Furthermore, there’s a complex communication system between the brain and gut (often referred to as the second brain).
For example, the presence H Pylori (often suspected for ulcers) increases mood disorders including depression:
Dysthymia is a fancy word for a depressive episode.
The quantity and type of bacteria in the gut can have a direct effect on bipolar disease (initialed as BP):
The real intrigue started when researchers looked at the results of antibiotics on bipolar symptoms.
That was 7 times the level of people who did not display bipolar symptoms!
There’s the other side of the coin.
Probiotics (supplement healthy strains of gut bacteria) were found to affect symptoms of bipolar:
The microbiome really is one of the new frontiers in medicine.
You can check out your own inner-world at viome now.
It’s very exciting now on this front.
They are even studies now on gut bacteria transplants.
Stayed tuned on that front.
Most people have never heard of methylation.
Sounds a little above our pay grade.
It shouldn’t be!
It’s estimated that roughly 40% of the US population has a mutation in MTHFR or MTRR where they properly use Vitamin B12 and Folate (not folic acid).
Your local Whole Foods or Pharmaca will have many brands of “methylated” B vitamins now.
There’s a direct tie between MTHFR and bipolar:
MTRR is for folate:
This is a simple fix.
Just supplement with methylated B12 and Folate!
It’s very common now as people start to realize how important it is!
Remember the whole gut biome connection with bipolar above?
Let’s find out how we’re wrecking that whole system.
We’ll jump right into it.
Nitrates used to process meats and other foods have been linked to manic episodes:
Okay, but can they show that nitrates cause the mania episode?
Experiments in rats by the same researchers showed mania-like hyperactivity after just a few weeks on diets with added nitrates.
Additives, preservatives, and pesticides affect change via the gut biome primarily.
It shows you just how powerful that ecosystem is to your wellbeing!
Check out CBD and the gut more intriguing stories.
To see just how new this line of research is, look at this brand new study:
We are finally getting good research on all these chemicals and how they affect our health.
We’ve covered histamines extensively since they are popping up in research on many issues.
Simply put, histamines are tasked with removing unwanted entities from the body.
The problem is that we’re swimming in unwanted chemicals in our modern world.
This system is overworked, over-stressed, and over-responding.
It controls the wake/sleep cycle which is a major issue for bipolar.
New research is pointing to the histamine pathway in bipolar disease:
The article looks at fatty acid ratios in the brain as a potential pathway to this histamine connection.
There’s a good analysis of the different “types” of bipolar here including histamine related types:
Finally, let’s look at common medications for bipolar disorder like Seroquel.
Guess what their effect is on the histamine system…
You can learn all about CBD and Histamines here.
If you don’t know the term mitochondria, you may want to get up to speed.
Not only might they be the key to longevity but they’re being targeted as a ROOT cause for bipolar and other neuropathic diseases.
We’ll see below that the hippocampus is key to the bipolar progression so a powered down cell in that region could have a key role in the disease.
Okay…we’ve covered a lot. Let’s finally get into why we’re here.
Before we jump off to CBD’s system, here’s a great summary of different aspects of bipolar (must read):
We’ll leave you with an overarching framework in which to view all this:
One more stop (we promise).
The endocannabinoid system spans all animals and dates to about 600 million years old.
We all have one!
Research is showing it’s tasked with balancing other key systems:
Okay, we just outlined all the key players in the bipolar disorder.
Here’s a quick visual.
Let’s now look at research…is there any relationship between bipolar and the endocannabinoid system at all?
First, there’s an association between bipolar disease and specific gene variation:
That gene happens to be a CB receptor gene. CB stands for cannabinoid.
There are other genes that come into focus:
We want to get to CBD so we’ll leave these links below for key systems tied to bipolar that are intimately linked to the endocannabinoid system.
Here’s the key point.
Very similar to migraines, bipolar appears to be a crescendo of imbalance that then radiates across other pathways.
Consequently, there is an exhaustion of the accelerated neurotransmitters, hormones, and the pendulum swings the other way.
This is very common in the brain (think of the crash after a sugar high).
The endocannabinoid system is tasked with balancing or homeostasis.
Since we took up so much time with the different aspects of bipolar disorder, we’ll leave the additional reading above to you.
Let’s look at CBD specifically!
There are lots of anecdotal stories of CBD helping people with bipolar but the big studies that we like to see are in the process now.
Comprehensive studies on CBD and bipolar specifically are in the works.
They’re due to be completed in 2020 at NIH and then we’ll report on them.
While we’re waiting, let’s take a different tact.
The common approach (with lots of side effects) for bipolar involves the following:
Usually, it’s a mix of the above and there is no one silver bullet.
Let’s look at CBD’s effect on each of these pathways since they are intimately tied to the progression of bipolar.
Mood stabilizers aim to balance neurotransmitters and/or hormones.
After all, they govern mood!
Common meds like lithium tend to hammer all mood so that the peaks are less pronounced.
Cellular stress and neuron death are long researched hallmarks of bipolar.
CBD has been shown to have a powerful effect on all these pathways including neurogenesis!
Let’s take a quick detour to the hippocampus where this neurogenesis and cell protection occurs with CBD:
Umm…mood and impulses? Check!
Why is this specifically important for bipolar?
It went on to say…
In fact, CBD’s calming effects on anxiety appear to be a result of anti-inflammation and neurogenesis:
Two birds with one stone!
You can learn all about neurogenesis and CBD here.
Remember, its likely stress and toxins that are causing the destruction of the neurons to begin with.
CBD is a powerful neuroprotective agent:
Get the full story at our CBD and inflammation page here.
This may be our favorite aspect of CBD.
It is showing powerful anti-psychotic effects on the brain with very little safety issues.
Common meds like Zyprexa and Seroquel are used to balance serotonin and dopamine.
Basically, the goal is to reduce the tendency for mania in the brain.
CBD has powerful effects on these symptoms.
Our favorite study deals with a study that showed CBD “reset” the brain and normalized activity (on scans) for people who were pre-psychotic:
The three areas…hippocampus (mentioned above), the striatum (reward center), and mid temporal lobe.
That striatum piece is important for bi-polar:
CBD was shown to normalize levels in both the hippocampus and striatum which are directly tied to bi-polar!
This may single-handedly be the reason for all the anecdotal stories on CBD.
There’s also the tie in for mitochondria (power plants in our cells) with more detail for CBD and mitochondria here.
Anti-convulsants seem like a strange choice for bi-polar but they work to control hyperactivity in the brain and thus convey an anti-psychotic effect.
By the way, psychotic just means an imbalance in the neurotransmitters or activity of the brain.
CBD’s potential was originally found AS an anti-convulsant.
In fact, it was originally discovered as a last resort for people with epilepsy.
This goes to the heart of CBD’s effect on our endocannabinoid system.
To strengthen it’s balancing effect!
A study here shows it to not only be anti-convulsant but neuroprotective in children:
This has huge potential for ADHD and Autism as well.
Finally…the depressive episodes.
This is a common course of treatment for bipolar disease.
The anti-depressant effect of CBD are well established and you can read up further at CBD and depression here.
The key takeaway is that CBD appears to balance serotonin levels in the brain:
Again, learn all about it (many examples and pathways) at the link above.
There are lots of studies on CBD directly with bipolar going on now.
Primarily because the side effects for all the medications listed above can be quite severe (as anyone with bipolar can attest).
One keynote…many medications use the same pathway as CBD in the liver so it’s best to take CBD at least 2 hours away from other meds.
Preferably, after a fatty meal.
Always work with a doctor who will work WITH you of course.
We want to hear your results and story.
How much CBD should we look at for bipolar and what’s the best type?
A few important notes.
First, the general requirements we have for CBD:
For a few reasons.
The two brands that meet these requirements with the lowest cost per mg of CBD are:
We’ll explain why the cost is so important below!
This is why the cost is important.
Many of the big brands on the market with good CBD are charging way too much to get there!
If a 2000 mg bottle of CBD is $120, who can afford going through a bottle every 4 days!
Obviously, start low at about 25-30 mg of CBD to see how your body responds.
Especially make sure to take at least 2 hours away from medications and work with your doctor with any supplement like CBD.
Most importantly, let us know your results. We’ll publish so that people can share what works!
You can also find the best priced CBD oils for Bipolar here:
Let us know what works, at what dosage, and with what results.
Let’s help others learn from your experience!
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