Cannabis Has Unique Benefits For People With Bipolar Disorder, Finds New Research

By Terry Hacienda, The Fresh Toast on

Published in Cannabis Daily

Researchers found that cannabis was effective in improving cognitive function while helping reduce risky decision making, which is common among individuals with bipolar disorder.

Around 46 million people around the world struggle with the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder can disrupt daily life, affecting relationships and ability to work.

There are three kinds of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, with symptoms including manic episodes that can last at least a week and may even require admission to the hospital; bipolar II is characterized by patterns of manic and depressive episodes, particularly elevated moods that make patients more agitated and energetic; and cyclothymic disorder, with symptoms including a rapid cycling of high and low mood swings, going from excessively energetic and happy to depressive in a switch.

Psychotherapy and medications are recommended for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Pharmaceutical medications are conventionally seen as necessary to help regulate moods. However, many patients don’t find relief from symptoms from pharmaceutical medications especially its effects take a while, and they usually come with side effects.

Cannabis is a safer, more natural alternative that can help patients with bipolar disorder.

A brand new study, that sought to understand how cannabis affected cognitive and goal-directed behaviors among people with bipolar disorder, reveals that marijuana may have “uniquely beneficial effects” for this condition. Researchers, who presented the findings at the Neuroscience 2022 conference, specifically found that cannabis was effective in improving cognitive function while helping reduce risky decision making, which is common among individuals with bipolar disorder.


The researchers also suggest that cannabis reduces the dopaminergic activity in the brain to help suppress its symptoms.

“Chronic cannabis use may have uniquely beneficial effects in people with BD. Previous studies suggest that some people with BD have increased dopaminergic activity due to a reduced dopamine transporter expression,” they concluded. “Chronic cannabis use has been shown to reduce dopamine release, thus chronic cannabis use may result in a return to dopamine homeostasis in people with BD and consequently normalizing their deficits in goal directed behaviors. We are engaged in additional studies that explore this potential,” wrote the authors. Other Studies There have been similar findings in other older studies.

According a 2018 clinical trial data, researchers found that cannabis consumption is linked to improvement in clinical symptoms of bipolar disorder. It also doesn’t negatively impact cognitive performance, they shared. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, and Tufts University analyzed the impact of cannabis on cognitive function and moods among patients who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This marked the first clinical trial to ever be conducted with the goal of analyzing how marijuana affects neuropsychological performance and mood.

They found that cannabis use resulted in reduced scores for depression, anger, and tension. It was also associated with increased vigor. However, patients who consumed marijuana also showed no significant changes in cognitive performance compared to subjects who abstained.


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