Is Cannabidiol an Option for People with OCD?

Most people, at one time or another, have decided that they needed to hit the lock button on their car key a second time, or have double-checked to make sure they locked the front door before leaving their home.

Sometimes, though, certain behaviors can become compulsions that people feel they have to perform, sometimes even in order to prevent a catastrophe from happening to them or their loved ones. When a person can't control their disturbing thoughts or stop these behaviors, they may have a mental health condition known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

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According to the International OCD Foundation, OCD can impact up to 1% of the population. The National Institute of Mental Health says that this disorder is characterized by unwanted thoughts, ideas, or mental images that constantly occur to a person, and produce anxiety. These thoughts, known as obsessions, are also paired with compulsions, or ritual actions a person may take to reduce the anxiety from their obsession. Repeatedly checking to see if doors are locked, arranging personal possessions in a specific way, hand washing, or counting to a certain number can all be considered compulsions. These thoughts and behaviors often seem uncontrollable to the person, despite being time-consuming and unpleasant.

While medications are available for OCD, they may take months to show effects, or may not be helpful at all. Some people with OCD may object to taking medications for the condition, but may also feel that cognitive-behavioral therapy only delivers partial benefits. Therefore, research is focused on novel ways of addressing OCD today, with many researchers taking a more holistic, wellness-based approach than in the past.

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Cannabidiol (CBD) has been the focus of research for other mental health issues that show some similarities to OCD, like anxiety and depression. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that researchers have begun to look into whether CBD might have promise for OCD as well. Schier et al. noted that CBD had shown some positive effects in reducing the frequency of symptoms associated with OCD, especially compulsions. In some cases, the research Schier et al. had examined in their review had included studies with human participants, but it is important to distinguish that those studies did not examine CBD as a treatment for OCD, but rather just as a way of reducing certain symptom counts.

A later study by Nardo et al. examined, more specifically, whether CBD would affect compulsive behaviors in animal models of OCD. They looked at whether CBD impacted how mouse models engaged in marble burying, a repetitive behavior similar to an anxiety-related compulsion in humans. The use of CBD oil in that study was found to reduce the mice's marble-burying behavior just as much as the control drug fluoxetine, which is normally used in humans to treat OCD. Likewise, Deiana et al. discovered that oral CBD formulations were effective in reducing marble-burying activities that paralleled compulsive behaviors.

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These studies offer a foundation for considering CBD as a future means of addressing OCD symptoms. However, both people with and without OCD may find that they benefit from supplementing with CBD. In particular, oils and edibles containing CBD may help get you to the state of wellness you want to be in.

Do you have a question or comment about CBD? Let us know, and we will respond right away. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletters and visit our website regularly for the latest updates on research, legislation, and other news impacting you and cannabidiol.

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