Is CBD Capable of Improving Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, & Mental Illnesses?
By Keith Alban
For most people, understanding what it's like living with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is an extremely challenging task. Many of the symptoms that can manifest with mental illness are completely unrelatable for those that have balanced mental health. It's difficult to know the battle that wages within someone’s mind, body, and soul with mental illness. Extreme mood swings, paranoia, delusions, hearing auditory voices, dark thoughts, feeling like two different people, and hallucinations are some of the symptoms that many people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder battle on a daily basis. Many people with these conditions have a constant feeling of being ostracized, judged, or feeling like an outcast, which exponentially increases the discomfort of living with these disorders.
For those with mental illness, being clandestine about what is felt on a moment to moment basis is usually the norm. The majority of people with these conditions have been routinely called nasty words and viewed in an unfavorable light if they open up about their struggles. Many try to talk to friends and family members in an attempt to feel more accepted, only to be further rejected. When people mention some of their symptoms like hearing voices, people tend to freak out. According to many schizophrenics, these aren't voices that are usually part of someone's internal monologue, they’re auditory and externally based. For some people, coming out and talking to their friends and family can help, while for others, it just perpetuates the nightmare and amplifies the feeling of insecurity.
The Many Faces & Layers of Mental Illness
There's no doubt that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are complex conditions with many layers and causes that branch into the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms. For something labeled as mental illness, conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia certainly affect much more than only the mental aspects.
Many things exist that science has yet to definitely verify, such as the spiritual aspects of human beings, and a spiritual realm. Many progressive scientists have verified that multiple levels to reality are 100% real. The spiritual realm is more real then we can often see with our eyes. There are also physical causes that can reveal insights for potential treatments. Millions of people have had spiritual experiences and seen things that lend credence to the reality of the spiritual realm.
Unfortunately, this isn't something that's taken into consideration when working with conditions like mental illness, along with many others. The standard route of antipsychotic drugs can come with a very long list of side effects. By now, the majority of people have heard of CBD and may be wondering if it has the capacity to improve their level of well being. It's nearly a mathematical certainty that after a product spreads like a wildfire, so will claims about what it can do. It's important to focus on actual research rather than hype or marketing. Outlandish claims can be synonymous with supplements at times, but many of them do have legitimate science that deserves attention.
CBD Research For Mental Illness
While CBD is relatively new to the health and wellness world, many studies are emerging from different labs, clinics, and universities that show what this unique cannabinoid is capable of. In the last two years alone, over 10 million dollars has been granted to fund research on CBD by different organizations, which speaks volumes of its potential. When it comes to mental and emotional health, CBD has shown good promise in preliminary studies. While mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are very complex with many causes, CBD seems to help regulate different mechanisms in the brain and body that may lead to a better sense of inner peace and balance.
While CBD may not be able to get rid of many of the symptoms that accompany these conditions, it may be able to help with the severity of them. Some of the research in animals may not translate to humans, but it still shows good promise without the potential for side effects. In a double-blind study comparing CBD to the antipsychotic drug, amisulpride, researchers concluded that CBD was just as effective for acute psychosis. Several symptoms related to schizophrenia showed tangible improvements with CBD as well. (1) Other studies haven't shown the same type of results for psychotic symptoms.
Another study with rats with schizophrenic symptoms saw an improvement in working memory, social interaction, and recognition with CBD. While this study isn't the greatest quality, sometimes research with rats does translate to people. These symptoms can be present in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder because of how intimately both conditions affect the mind. (2) What's interesting is that THC and marijuana have some negative effects for those prone to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, yet CBD only has the potential for positive benefits. This doesn't mean that CBD will automatically improve these conditions, but it doesn't seem to share any of the potential downsides seen with marijuana.
THC and CBD are closely related in molecular structure but have completely opposing actions in the brain and body in many ways. If you're prone to or have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, it may be a good idea to stay away from marijuana according to some research. Most marijuana is very low in CBD and incredibly high in THC. Heavy metals and trace amounts of molds have also been found in a high percentage of marijuana, even in top-shelf quality. Growers often neglect testing their product for certain contaminants and dispensaries don't enforce this either. Most modern soil is saturated with toxins and heavy metals. The cannabis plant soaks up compounds in the soil like a vacuum. It's important to make sure any CBD product you use is tested for contaminants.
Important Factors To Improving Schizophrenia & Bipolar Disorder
There are several other aspects of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that need to be addressed in order for more healing to take place. Issues and imbalances with methylation, histamine, neurotransmitters, and heavy metals play an intimate role in these conditions. Working with these areas may help to significantly improve the symptoms for people with mental illness, although it may take time. These issues aren't often addressed by doctors or therapists when treating these conditions, yet they're heavily implicated. Methylation is a very important process in the body that occurs on a second to second basis.
Many people with schizophrenia have shown to either over-methylate or under-methylate. Balancing this crucial process can yield some good returns in the form of mental, emotional, and physical improvements. Methylation is a highly influential process that affects many other physiological actions in the body. Research shows that methylation is crucial for gene expression, energy production, immune response, vascular health, cell membrane repair, DNA/RNA synthesis, toxin removal, hormone balance, neurotransmitter synthesis, homocysteine levels, aging, and much more. (3) Methylation is undoubtedly one of the most important processes in the body. A methylation DNA panel test may be helpful in order to gain a better understanding of your body's tendencies.
People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and forms other mental illness often have high histamine turnover levels. Metabolites of histamine such as N-tele-methylhistamine were elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid in schizophrenic people. (4) Histamine plays a much more prominent role in the gut, brain, and entire body than just sneezing and allergic reactions. Antihistamines have actually been shown to have a positive short term effect on some symptoms of mental illnesses, although there are healthier ways to accomplish this. Long term antihistamine use can lead to memory loss, lethargy, high blood pressure, weakened vocal cords, mood changes, and osteoporosis. (5)
The Issue of Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metal toxicity is not only a major contributor to just about every health disorder on the face of the earth, but it is also linked to many cases of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other types of mental illnesses. Elevated levels of lead, chromium, cadmium, copper, lead, arsenic, mercury, and aluminum have been found in studies. (6) Other toxins, A 4-6 month long program with supplements like zeolite powder, organic germanium GE-132, carnosine, TMG, NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine), MSM (organic sulfur crystals), cilantro, guduchi, amylase enzyme, chlorella, alpha-lipoic acid, and others together for 4 months or more may help to lower the levels of heavy metals in the body, improve methylation, and help balance histamine levels.
It is reported that homocysteine levels are often elevated in cases of mental illness. (7) Not surprisingly, vitamin B deficiencies, which often accompany high homocysteine levels, have been seen as well. B-vitamins that are in their methylated form may be helpful in cases of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. It's important to take small doses though, most b-vitamin products on the market aren't methylated and need to be converted by the body, which many people with deficiencies have trouble doing. Testing for specific deficiencies may help to better hone in on what specific nutrients are needed. Low vitamin D3 levels have been seen in some cases of schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and other conditions as well.
The fatty acids EPA and DHA were also areas that were often low in those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Over a dozen studies have shown positive correlations of EPA and DHA with mental health, although not everyone will notice benefits. Psychiatric Nursing published a review of omega-3 fats for bipolar disorder, which concluded that evidence does exist that shows an improvement of certain symptoms when supplementing with EPA and DHA. (8) It is important that the fatty acids EPA and DHA are used together and in the right ratio. A 1.5-2 to 1 ratio in favor of EPA may be ideal. Ashwagandha, holy basil, and schisandra are adaptogens that may help combat some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia as well. There's no guarantee that any of the supplements (including CBD) will work for your specific physiology and set of symptoms, but the right combination can make a big difference for some people.
The Payoff Of Addressing All Issues
Working on certain themes such as nutrient deficiencies, methylation, histamine levels, heavy metals, and balancing out certain physiological issues may pay dividends in the long run. It's very important when taking any supplement to proceed with caution and use a low dose for a few days to gauge your body's reaction. When detoxifying heavy metals, it can be a bumpy road, but the payoff down the line is huge if they can be successfully eliminated. Many heavy metal detoxification programs pull heavy metals out of the cell but don't hold onto them long enough to be eliminated, so they're recirculated. It's important to take a strong binder such as zeolite powder (not liquid) and activated coconut charcoal with any heavy metal detoxification program. Don't give up and feel encouraged that things can improve. Knowledge is a powerful tool that can lead to breakthroughs when it comes to healing.