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Cannabinoids in bipolar affective disorder: A review and discussion of their therapeutic potential

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Heather Ashton, Dr Brian Moore, Dr Peter GallagherORCiD, Professor Allan Young


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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 Δ9-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. © 2005 British Association for Psychopharmacology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ashton CH, Moore PB, Gallagher P, Young AH

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Psychopharmacology

Year: 2005

Volume: 19

Issue: 3

Pages: 293-300

Print publication date: 01/05/2005

ISSN (print): 0269-8811

ISSN (electronic): 1461-7285


DOI: 10.1177/0269881105051541

PubMed id: 15888515