Friday, December 10, 2010


Is medical marijuana an effective treatment for depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety, and similar mood disorders?

Frank Lucido, MD, a private practice physician, stated in his article "Implementation of the Compassionate Use Act in a Family Medical Practice: Seven Years Clinical Experience," available on his website (accessed June 2, 2006):
With appropriate use of medical cannabis, many of these patients have been able to reduce or eliminate the use of opiates and other pain pills, ritalin, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants and other psychiatric medicines...

June 2, 2006 - Frank Lucido, MD 

Lester Grinspoon, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School stated in his 1997 book Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine:
Thirty to forty percent of patients with bipolar disorder are not consistently helped by conventional treatment. For some of them cannabis may be useful in ameliorating the symptoms, reducing side effects of lithium, or both.

1997 - Lester Grinspoon, MD 

George McMahon, an author and medical marijuana patient of the U.S. Federal Drug Administration's Investigational New Drug (IND) Program, stated in his 2003 book Prescription Pot:
People who have never struggled with a life threatening or disabling illness often do not comprehend how debilitating the resulting depression can be. Long days spent struggling with sickness can wear patients down, suppress their appetites and slowly destroy their wills to live. This psychological damage can result in physiological effects that may be the difference between living and dying.

The elevated mood associated with cannabis definitely affected my health in a positive manner. I was more engaged with life. I took walks and rode my bike, things I never considered doing before in my depressed state, even if I had been physically capable. I ate regular meals and I slept better at night. All of these individual factors contributed to a better overall sense of well-being.

2003 - George McMahon 

Tod Mikuriya, MD, a psychiatrist and medical coordinator, cowrote in the 1997 book Marijuana Medical Handbook:
The power of cannabis to fight depression is perhaps its most important property.

1997 - Tod Mikuriya, MD 

The Journal of Clinical Investigation stated in an Oct. 13, 2005 article "Cannabinoids Promote Embryonic and Adult Hippocampus Neurogenesis and Produce Anxiolytic- and Antidepressant-like Effects" (Article in PDF format) by Xia Zhang et al.:
We show that 1 month after chronic HU210 [high-potency cannabinoid] treatment, rats display increased newborn neurons [brain cell growth] in the hippocampal dentate gyrus [a portion of the brain] and significantly reduced measures of anxiety- and depression-like behavior.

Thus, cannabinoids appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects.

Oct. 13, 2005 - Journal of Clinical Investigation 

The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, stated in a Jan. 2004 article on a study designed by Prentiss, Power, Balmas, Tzuang and Israelski "to examine the prevalence and patterns of smoked marijuana and perceived benefit" among 252 HIV patients:
Overall prevalence of smoked marijuana in the previous month was 23%. Reported benefits included relief of anxiety and/or depression (57%), improved appetite (53%), increased pleasure (33%), and relief of pain (28%).

Jan. 2004 - Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome 

Jay Cavanaugh, PhD, National Director for the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, wrote in his 2003 article "Cannabis and Depression," published on the American Alliance For Medical Cannabis website:
Numerous patients report significant improvement and stabilization with their bipolar disorder when they utilize adjunctive therapy with medical cannabis. While some mental health professionals worry about the impact of cannabis on aggravating manic states, most bipolar patients trying cannabis find they 'cycle' less often and find significant improvement in overall mood. Bipolar disorders vary tremendously in the time spent in the depressive versus manic states. Those who experience extended depressive episodes are more likely to be helped with cannabis.

Patients who use cannabis to 'relax' may be treating the anxiousness sometimes associated with depression. Cannabis aids the insomnia sometimes present in depression and can improve appetite. Better pain control with cannabis can reduce chronic pain related depression. While cannabis cannot yet be considered a primary treatment of major depression it may improve mood when used under physicians supervision and in combination with therapy and/or SSRI’s.

2003 - Jay Cavanaugh, PhD 

Bill Zimmerman, PhD, former President of the Americans For Medical Rights, stated in his 1998 book Is Marijuana the Right Medicine For You?:
Some patients have found the mood altering effects of marijuana to be helpful for treating mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar (manic-depressive) illness. Using marijuana to treat mood disorders was described in medical writings in the 19th and early 20th centuries...
However, using marijuana to treat mood disorders can be very tricky... If you intend to use marijuana for this purpose, it is very important that you thoroughly discuss it with your doctor. Patients who respond well report that marijuana not only diminishes their undesirable moods, it also motivates them to productivity. For some of these patients, depression was a by-product of a debilitating disease or illness for which marijuana provided a welcome remedy. For others, the marijuana seems to have acted directly on the depression.
The mental component of the pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) often causes psychological problems and is now technically classified as an atypical (not typical) depression. Many women report benefit from using marijuana to improve the symptoms of PMS.

1998 - Bill Zimmerman, PhD 

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