My son was diagnosed bipolar over 4 years ago and has endured the usual issues: communication impairment, mood swings, inconsistent compliance with medications, psychosis, and side effects from pharmaceuticals.
Before his initial diagnosis (and after) he was using “street pot,” which I believe added to his psychosis and difficult behaviors. About once a year this would lead to a forced hospital intervention, usually lasting 2 weeks. It was as if he was over-the-top stoned, disagreeable and disoriented. For him, the hospital is miserable. For me, it was a way for him to return to being compliant with his medications.
But during the last year things have been different. In trying to understand the depth of his condition, I found that his prescriptions included the anti-epileptic (also called an anti-convulsant) medication, Lamictal, for mood-stabilization. I wondered, “If the chemical compounds in cannabis are known to help alleviate seizures, wouldn’t it make sense that this natural remedy could also help bi-polar mood stability?”
So we got a recommendation letter from a doctor who suggested the smokable cannabis strain, ACDC, due to its low THC content. From his first puff I could see immediate mood improvements and a contentment that had been missing for quite a while! I’m not kidding. Everything wasn’t perfect, but it was jaw-droppingly better.
As he kept using the ACDC, the issue became that my son felt that weed – is weed – is weed. So I had to set about defining some differences so he’d understand that all cannabis is not alike – and all cannabis will not be helpful for him. We needed a more specific definition.
I explained that (1) “street pot” (any strength, different highs, inconsistent standards) differs from (2) “medical marijuana” (great strains, more quality and generally more reliable for people with targeted conditions) which differs from (3) “high-CBD cannabis.”
High-CBD cannabis, from my view, should contain a CBD-to-THC ratio of 20:1 or better. The ratio is important! While strains like Harlequin have a 5:2 ratio and Cannatonic is around 1:1, for me I see these in the category of medical marijuana. Compared with most cannabis strains, they are indeed high in CBD. But for bi-polar the 20:1 ratio wasn’t enough to remedy the psychosis – even though it’s excellent for mood stability.
So I became a research-aholic and kept searching for a better remedy with a higher CBD ratio. My research led me to a high-CBD hemp oil which “took the edge off” of his condition even more effectively. We added in a hemp oil that has a 30:1 ratio of CBD-to-THC. With only 0.3% THC, the label states that it is a “dietary supplement’ and therefore could be shipped to all 50 states.
Getting the dose right is a “try it and see how it goes” situation. We started by using 1/4 teaspoon of the 30:1 hemp oil, twice a day = 1/2 teaspoon total = 123 mg of CBD per day for very helpful mood stability. In three days we began to see an improvement.
Over a period of a couple months we gradually increased the dose up to 1/2 teaspoon of 30:1 hemp oil twice a day = 1 teaspoon total = 246 mg of CBD per day, and the improvement was even better.
Hemp oil products differ, so if you try this, be sure you’re aiming for at least a 20:1 ratioof CBD-to-THC or better. Some products also have more oil and less hemp, so the potency will vary. A little milligram math may be required.
Everyone has individual physical needs – don’t rush this. Give it 3-days to 3-weeks for a full exploration of its effects.
There is no doubt cannabis has changed our family for the better. Other people with bi-polar who have less-severe conditions may be able to take advantage of a wider selection of strains. But proceed carefully. Don’t take chances with a lower CBD ratio if someone you love has a more severe condition.
Just going to any dispensary is a “buyer beware” situation. I called several places until I reached someone who knew about CBD ratios. I emphasized that “street pot” and (the broadly termed) “medical marijuana” was not what we were shopping for. The high-CBD cannabis we wanted would help keep my son out of the hospital. I did not hesitate to have this discussion with the dispensary!
The clinical studies I’ve seen coincide with what I’ve found. For mood stability and lessening mental psychosis, the best cannabis product(s) should contain very low THC. Including a pharmaceutical-grade pure CBD product can be another consideration.
THC desensitizes the brain cell receptors, according to professor of pharmacology, Dr. Daniele Piomelli, at University of California – Irvine. His ground breaking study in 2012 led by Markus Leweke of the University of Cologne in Germany, showed that cannabidiol (CBD) was just as effective as the anti-psychotic drug, amisulpride, but the cannabidiol showed no side effects!
Here’s the actual clinical study to print out for your doctor!
Use caution when exploring any high-CBD remedy. Never suddenly reduce or increase prescribed medications without a doctor’s supervision. Don’t stop taking doctor-prescribed meds just because you feel a new sense of wonderful!
NEVER go off any SSRI (anti-depressant) medication suddenly because that will have devastating effects. Don’t consume grapefruit juice EVER while taking doctor-prescribed depression, anti-psychotic or other mental wellness prescriptions.
Add in a high-CBD remedy to a normal prescription routine and see how you feel. As things improve, see your doctor. Gradual dose adjustments are what Dr. Piomelli recommends.
Be smart. Marijuana is the source of many remedies of the past and future, but THC must be used with great caution when mental illness is in the picture. Here’s a GREAT report with a fabulous color chart displaying cannabidiol and other non-psychoactive chemicals (CBG, CBN, THCV, CBDV etc.). – http://www.advancedholistichealth.org/PDF_Files/cannbiniods%20therapeutic%20chart%20article.pdf
For answering your questions about numerous health solutions I recommend the people and resources at United Patients Group. Now if the U.S. government will just get out of the way, there are millions of people who need this natural medicine. Let’s boldly go where the grace of nature has blessed us to go!
– Edwin Mayfield
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest editor are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of United Patients Group or any employee thereof. United Patients Group is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest editor.
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