Currently, CBD’s ability to ease symptoms of OCD is largely theoretical and anecdotal. That’s because there’s a very limited amount of research examining the effectiveness of CBD for people with OCD.
A handful of case reports describe people with OCD who experienced improved symptoms after being treated with CBD or other cannabinoids. But more large-scale clinical trials are needed to assess CBD’s effectiveness and safety.
In a 2020 study, researchers examined the effects of medical cannabis on a group of 87 people with OCD. The researchers found that patients reported a:
- 60 percent reduction in compulsions
- 49 percent reduction in intrusive thoughts
- 52 percent reduction in anxiety
Cannabis with higher doses of CBD led to a larger reduction in compulsive behavior.
However, in another small 2020 study with only 14 participants, researchers compared the effects of cannabis containing varying concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD to a placebo. They found that smoking cannabis containing primarily CBD or primarily THC had little acute impact on OCD symptoms.
How is CBD thought to help with OCD symptoms?
CBD is one of the more than 80 biologically active compounds found in the cannabis plant. THC is the primary psychoactive compound that makes you “high.” CBD is non-psychoactive but has a number of effects on the body including relieving pain and potentially reducing anxiety and depression.
Your endocannabinoid system is a pathway of receptors in your body that play a role in regulating sleep, mood, appetite, and other processes. When CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system, it can cause changes to these processes. However, researchers are still not sure exactly how CBD interacts with this system.
Best form of CBD for OCD
CBD comes in many forms including oils, tinctures, patches, and gummies. There’s no evidence that any form is more effective than the others. It’s likely that the amount of CBD per serving is more important than the form.
Even though CBD may be beneficial alone, some research suggests that taking CBD along with THC and other chemicals found in cannabis called terpenes may enhance its benefits. This phenomenon is often referred to as “the entourage effect.”