Bipolar disorder is a relatively common mental health condition. Can cannabidiol, also known as CBD, help treat the symptoms?

Bipolar disorder is sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder, a term that’s now considered outdated in the United States. This condition is characterized by major shifts in mood and energy levels.

Many people with bipolar disorder experience depressive episodes and manic episodes, though this depends on the type of bipolar disorder you have.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 4.4% of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives.

CBD is a health product that many people use for mental and physical health reasons. But is there any evidence on using CBD for bipolar disorder? Here’s what you need to know.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid. It’s one of the dozens of chemical compounds found in hemp and cannabis plants. CBD has become popular over the past few years, and CBD products are often used for health reasons.

What’s the difference between CBD and cannabis?

CBD is only one of many cannabinoids in cannabis. CBD is nonintoxicating — it can’t make you feel “high” on its own. The cannabinoid that makes you feel intoxicated is tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC).

What types of CBD products are there?

CBD can be found in numerous forms, including:

Is CBD legal?

The 2018 Farm Bill made it federally legal to grow hemp and sell hemp-derived products. Hemp-derived CBD products that contain 0.3% THC or less are legal on a federal level. However, individual states have their own legislation regarding legal levels of CBD and THC. Check your state’s legislation for specific information, and be mindful of other state laws when traveling with CBD.

Many people say they use CBD for conditions that affect moods and symptoms like depression and anxiety. While some evidence suggests that CBD could help with these issues, there’s a lack of research into this topic, as a 2018 review points out.

A 2015 review notes that CBD could be useful for anxiety, and a 2018 study concludes that CBD may have anti-stress effects. Because of this promising research, many people wonder if CBD may help people with bipolar disorder.

One of the few pieces of research that actually looks at the effects of CBD on bipolar disorder, in particular, is a 2008 case study. This study looked at two people with bipolar disorder I who were experiencing manic disorders and undergoing inpatient therapy. The report concluded that CBD didn’t seem to be effective for manic episodes. However, neither person seemed to experience any side effects.

It’s worth noting that this study looked at only two people and only during manic episodes.

The above study was published over a decade ago. There are no newer studies on the potential effects of CBD on bipolar disorder.

More research is needed, especially on the effects of CBD during a depressive episode. Since some (limited) research suggests CBD may have anti-depressant effects, researchers have suggested that CBD’s effects on depressive episodes should be studied.

A 2020 review looked at the research on CBD and different mental health conditions. Researchers found that evidence CBD may help with bipolar disorder was “weak,” meaning more research is needed.

In short, there’s little evidence that CBD could help with symptoms of bipolar disorder.

CBD is considered safe for human consumption. However, it can interact with certain medications, particularly those with a grapefruit warning.

Like grapefruit, CBD can affect the enzymes in your liver so that it changes the way your body processes certain medications. If you combine CBD or grapefruit with these drugs, you could experience side effects.

Many medications used to treat bipolar disorder carry this grapefruit warning. This means that you shouldn’t mix CBD with those medications.

Some types of medications with grapefruit warnings that are used to treat bipolar disorder include:

If you’re unsure whether it’s safe to use CBD, consider talking with your treatment team first.

Because of the lack of research on CBD and bipolar disorder, there’s no evidence that suggests CBD can be used to treat the symptoms.

If you would like to use CBD to manage the symptoms of your bipolar disorder, it’s important to speak with your doctor first. It’s never advisable to replace your current medicine with CBD, or mix your current medicine with CBD, without the supervision of your treatment team.

Still, though CBD may not work for you, effective treatment for bipolar disorder is available and usually includes medication and talk therapy (psychotherapy) in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

In addition to the above therapies, you can use some self-care strategies to help you cope with bipolar disorder. This can include caring for your physical health by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising, as your physical state can affect your mood. Activities like socializing, pursuing hobbies, and journaling can all be helpful for your mental health in general.

If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist or qualified healthcare professional to discuss your treatment options.