Can CBD Help With OCD?

By  //  August 25, 2021

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For those of us who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), we know just how debilitating an illness it can be. Intrusive thoughts, compulsive behaviours and off-the-charts anxiety are but a few of the frustrating symptoms. But is there help out there in the CBD universe? This article delves into the mental illness that is OCD and considers whether CBD could be a potentially alleviating medication for it. 

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

OCD is classed as an anxiety disorder. According to research, 1 in 100 of us suffer from this disorder. It causes sufferers to experience obsessive thoughts, which are followed by compulsive behaviours.

These thoughts are intrusive and unwanted, which can cause mass anxiety or unease. The compulsions that follow are activities that are carried out repeatedly in an attempt to alleviate the intrusive thoughts and the uncomfortable feelings that go along with them. 

For some people, OCD-related symptoms can last an hour or so each day, but for others with more severe OCD, it can be so severe that it takes over their whole lives. As a result, this often damages their chances of normal life and can damage not only their health but their work, education and even social relationships. In a nutshell, it’s a living nightmare. 

There are treatments available out there for OCD sufferers, and it has certainly improved over recent years as more is being learnt and understood about it. Recommended treatments are usually either Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or a type of antidepressant that is alleged to target OCD.

However, for many people, these treatments still do little to quench the illness. In fact, 1 in 3 people does not feel a significant reduction in symptoms after undergoing these treatments. For many, the current options for medication are simply not enough to help.

Could CBD Be The Solution?

Cannabidiol (or most commonly called CBD) is one of the more than 80 biologically active compounds that is found in the cannabis plant. Do not confuse this with THC (​​Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the primary psychoactive compound that gets you ‘high’.

Unlike THC, CBD is completely non-psychoactive, but it does have a number of effects on our bodies. This includes aiding in relieving pain and potentially being able to reduce both anxiety and depression symptoms. How is it able to do this?

Well, there is evidence to suggest that our endocannabinoid systems play a role when it comes to the regulation of fear, repetitive behaviours and anxiety too. Basically, the endocannabinoid system is a pathway of receptors in our bodies that help to regulate sleep, mood, appetite and pain. Interestingly, when CBD interacts with this system, it is able to cause changes to these processes.

It is still unclear how CBD is able to do this, but it certainly seems to be aiding in the reduction of many OCD specific side-effects, such as anxiety and fear. 

Of course, much more research is needed before we can categorically say one way or another whether CBD can alleviate OCD symptoms with certainty.

It is only in recent years that the benefits of CBD have really begun to be explored. However, the evidence collected so far has been encouraging. 

CBD Research Into OCD So Far

A study was undertaken recently by Carrie Cuttler, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University.

In this study, she was examining whether the use of cannabis could treat symptoms of OCD. Cuttler explained that as the amount of CBD increased, so did the size of compulsion reductions.

In a separate study back in 2015, strong evidence was found that suggested that 300-600 milligrams of CBD taken orally reduces anxiety symptoms. It is thought that as a result, a similar dose may well prove effective in treating OCD. 

In one of the most encouraging studies of the relationship between CBD and OCD symptoms back in 2020, researchers examined 87 people who suffered from OCD after being given CBD.

The patients reported very encouraging results such as:

  • 52% reduction in anxiety;
  • 49% reduction in intrusive thoughts;
  • 60% reduction in compulsions.

What Is The Best Format Of CBD To Take For OCD?

Evidence collected so far seems to suggest that no one form is more effective than any other. Whether it’s CBD gummies, CBD oil, CBD vape liquids or even CBD patches, it appears as though the actual dosage of CBD is far more important than the method in which you choose to receive the CBD. 

Of course, it is imperative that you visit your doctor first before self-medicating with CBD. It is important to ensure that any medication you are currently taking is not adversely affected by using OCD. 

Final Thoughts

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an extremely stressful and debilitating disease for those of us who suffer from it. Whilst there are treatments available today, such as antidepressant medication and certain forms of therapy, many sufferers feel as though these do little to alleviate the all-consuming symptoms of OCD.

Alternative research into the use of CBD as a form of OCD treatment is ongoing, and much more data needs to be collected for us to know for certain, but it appears as though CBD could potentially be a very helpful and effective way to treat some of the symptoms of OCD. 

Please ensure that you consult your doctor before you make any decisions on adding CBD to your existing treatments. Hopefully, in the future, CBD could well be the go-to treatment for people with this mental disorder, and the research so far has proven very encouraging. However, more needs to be studied before we can say for sure if CBD is a viable solution.