Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) impacts about 3 percent of the world’s population. Those diagnosed with the condition experience repetitive behavior and intrusive thoughts, often driven by a host of unreasonable fears.
OCD also can manifest in certain actions, such as leaving the house, entering a room, or touching objects in a specific order and always in the same way. It may also lead people to arrange objects in specific patterns.
It’s a challenging condition to live with, especially in the most severe cases. But a recent study may have found help for those with OCD: cannabis and CBD, the chemical component in cannabis already linked to many different health benefits.
Study: Cannabis has a significant impact on OCD
A new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that OCD patients who used CBD saw significant drops in many common OCD symptoms. Those numbers included:
- A 60 percent reduction in compulsions
- A 49 percent reduction in intrusive thoughts
- A 52 percent reduction in anxiety from before to after inhaling cannabis
The researchers analyzed self-reported data from 87 people with OCD. Each patient tracked the severity of their intrusions, compulsions, and anxiety immediately before and after 1,810 cannabis use sessions over 31 months.
The researchers concluded that “inhaled cannabis appears to have short-term beneficial effects on symptoms of OCD. However, tolerance to the effects on intrusions may develop over time.” They noted smaller reductions in the number of intrusions over time after study participants had been using cannabis for many months.
Other studies have focused on CBD
Other case studies have focused on the impact of CBD on OCD. An overview of these studies published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research proposed that the use of CBD is worth pursuing because of the role the endocannabinoid system plays in regulating anxiety, fear, and repetitive behaviors.
Because users report that cannabis and CBD help relieve anxiety and fear, the researchers wrote that this suggests “that the endocannabinoid system could be a potential target for novel medications for OCD.”
They concluded that while preliminary, “The available clinical data indicate that cannabinoids influence OCD-relevant processes, impacting anxiety symptoms, enhancing fear extinction, and reducing certain repetitive behaviors. To date, only case reports detail how cannabinoids affect OCD symptoms specifically, although the effects reported are promising.”
According to Healthline, there are no official recommendations on dosage or the exact combination of CBD and THC that might have the most impact on OCD. Some studies suggest a combination of CBD and terpenes could have the most significant impact. Early research has also shown that the amount of CBD patients take seems more important than the form in which they take it.
While further research is needed, finding a way to treat OCD with cannabis and CBD would create an important new treatment option for those diagnosed with the disorder and a new niche in the growing cannabis market.