Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar affective disorder is often poorly controlled by prescribed drugs. Cannabis use is common in patients with this disorder and anecdotal reports suggest that some patients take it to alleviate symptoms of both mania and depression. We undertook a literature review of cannabis use by patients with bipolar disorder and of the neuropharmacological properties of cannabinoids suggesting possible therapeutic effects in this condition. No systematic studies of cannabinoids in bipolar disorder were found to exist, although some patients claim that cannabis relieves symptoms of mania and/or depression. The cannabinoids Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) may exert sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic and anticonvulsant effects. Pure synthetic cannabinoids, such as dronabinol and nabilone and specific plant extracts containing THC, CBD, or a mixture of the two in known concentrations, are available and can be delivered sublingually. Controlled trials of these cannabinoids as adjunctive medication in bipolar disorder are now indicated.

while hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer. The researchers also observed decreased incidences of benign tumors (polyps and adenomas) in other organs (mammary gland, uterus, pituitary, testis, and pancreas) in the rats.

But while THC has been extensively studied for its antitumor effects, researchers have begun looking into other cannabinoids as well, namely CBD.

In a study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics in 2011, researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA found that CBD induced programmed cell death in breast cancer cells without the activation of cannabinoid and vanilloid receptors in vitro. CBD induced both autophagy and apoptosis cell death in breast cancer cells and the researchers concluded that the interplay between apoptosis and autophagy in CBD-treated breast cancer cells warranted more research into the potential use of CBD as a cancer therapeutic.

To quickly review, autophagy is the natural, regulated, destructive mechanism of the cell that disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components. It allows the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components. When a cell is damaged though oxidative stress, this function removes the faulty components and replaces them with new, better-working parts.

Apoptosis, on the other hand, is known as programmed cell death. If cells are no longer needed or if they’ve been damaged beyond repair, they commit suicide by activating an intracellular death program. This self destructive process is a necessary way to clear the system of cells that can’t be saved.

CBD has also been demonstrated to exert a chemopreventive effect in a mouse model of colon cancer. In a study published in Journal of molecular medicine in 2012, Italian researchers investigated CBD’s possible chemopreventive effect in the model of colon cancer induced by azoxymethane (AOM) in mice (AOM is a potent carcinogen used to induce colon cancer in rodent models). They found that animals treated with azoxymethane and CBD concurrently were protected from developing premalignant and malignant lesions. In colorectal carcinoma cell lines, cannabidiol protected DNA from oxidative damage, increased endocannabinoid levels and reduced cell proliferation. In a subsequent study conducted by researchers from Italy and the U.K. and published in Phytomedicine in 2014, researchers investigated the effect of a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of CBD on colorectal cancer cell proliferation and in experimental models of colon cancer in vivo. They concluded that CBD attenuates colon carcinogenesis and inhibits colorectal cancer cell proliferation via CB1 and CB2 receptor activation.

Another investigation into the antitumor effects of CBD examined the role of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). ICAM-1 plays a role in cell signaling by stabilizing cell-cell interactions. However, enhanced ICAM-1 levels on cancer cells may be involved in tumor suppression. In a study published in the FASEB Journal in 2012, researchers from Germany 

therapeutic value of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, and even though many preclinical trials call for more investigation, barriers to research have slowed further exploration to a crawl.

If we are serious about winning the war against cancer, an all-of-the-above strategy needs to be employed. That includes researching novel therapeutic approaches like medical cannabis. By removing barriers to research, we can finally pave the way for rigorous clinical trials to determine whether or not cannabis can cure cancer.