Treating borderline personality disorder with CBD: Is it an effective treatment?

CBD may be used to tackle overactive neural transfer caused by BPD symptoms like anxiety, anger, impulsivity and paranoia

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Treating borderline personality disorder with CBD: Is it an effective treatment?

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Could cannabis be a suitable treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD)? Tough to treat, BPD is a condition that affects approximately 1.6 percent of adults in the United States. While over-the-counter (OTC) medications may provide some relief from the symptoms of BPD, they can also cause addiction, dependency and in some cases, fatal overdoses.

The medical condition exhibits a wide range of symptoms, including impulsivity, poor self-esteem, and difficulty in regulating emotions. Someone with BPD may also find it a challenge to maintain normal relationships.

Psychotherapy is another option, but positive effects have only been noticeable within intense sessions. This makes medical cannabis a rather appealing alternative. Thanks to discrete dosing options and an endless array of products cropping up in the legal cannabis market, the treatment options offer a promising alternative to OTC prescription meds, such as opiates.

What are the symptoms of BPD?

People who are diagnosed with BPD exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Self-harming behavior, such as suicide attempts and threats
  • Repeated periods of depression, anxiety or irritability, lasting for a few hours to several days
  • Uncontrollable anger and mood swings
  • Feelings of stress and paranoia following angry outbursts
  • Unstable personal relationships
  • Efforts to steer clear of abandonment/rejection by friends or family.

BPD treatment options are limited BPD is characterized as a personality disorder, the treatment options for this condition are limited. Although behavioral therapies like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) have proven to be some of the most effective treatment options for BPD, no medication currently exists to target all of the associated symptoms.

In most cases, a doctor or healthcare practitioner will prescribe an anti-anxiety, antidepressant or antipsychotic medication to a patient with BPD.

Opioid overdoses have increased 200 percent in the U.S since 2000, with those deaths said to be associated with opioid pain relievers and heroin abuse. A cannabis overdose, however, has never been reported. 

How can CBD help people with BPD?

There’s a particular cannabis compound called cannabidiol (CBD) that is emerging as a possible treatment option for those who struggle with BPD. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can be derived from both the cannabis and hemp plants. Once ingested, CBD reacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which causes it to produce a range of therapeutic symptoms including pain relief, relaxation, and overall well-being.

The ECS also works to regulate the body’s internal functions, which are responsible for controlling how we feel, think and react to situations in everyday life. Endocannabinoids travel throughout the human body via the ECS to accomplish and maintain internal homeostasis; achieving balance and regulation for all bodily functions.

Symptomatic or episodic behaviors caused by psychiatric disorders are linked to overactive neurons, which transmit too many neurotransmitters from presynapse to postsynapse, thus causing the receptors to overload.

Cannabinoids, like CBD, alleviate the transfer of neurotransmitters. As a result, CBD may be used to tackle overactive neural transfer caused by BPD symptoms like anxiety, anger, impulsivity, and paranoia.

CBD activates a plethora of endocannabinoid receptors including the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. Higher serotonin levels have been associated with feelings of happiness, which explains why the naturally-produced chemical has been named the “happy chemical.”

Individuals who suffer from the symptoms of BPD, such as anxiety and depression, tend to have lower levels of serotonin than ‘happier’ individuals. After activating the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, CBD binds to 5-HT serotonin neurotransmitters and amplifies serotonin production.

While CBD may help fight BPD, more studies and research are needed.