Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a real problem for a lot of people.
Contrary to common perception, it’s not just an urge to organize pencils, stack papers perfectly and color-code book shelves. For many, OCD is a fear driven, anxiety fueled and mildly paranoid disorder. Depending on the severity, people can experience unwanted intrusive thoughts, difficulty tolerating uncertainty and a controlling need for order and symmetry.
Until now, the only known treatment for OCD has been “exposure and response prevention therapy” and prescription antidepressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
However, recent research from the University of Washington published in the Journal of Affective Disorders suggests that there’s another way. A natural, plant-based, heady alternative that seems to have a very dramatic effect on the symptoms of OCD.
According to UW’s findings, cannabis use reduced OCD compulsions by 60%, intrusions, or unwanted thoughts, by 49% and anxiety by 52%. Not only that, but researchers also discovered that the higher the dosage (of either CBD or THC), the greater those behavioral reductions were.
“The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder," Carrie Cuttler, WSU assistant professor of psychology and the study's corresponding author said in a press release.
The research drew from 87 different subjects who logged over 1,800 cannabis “sessions” over the course of 31 months. The length of the study offered a long-term data set to draw from and enabled the researchers to take THC tolerance build-up into account. The format of the study also allowed the subjects to use commercially available cannabis products from the comfort of their own homes, instead of having to use government-provided cannabis in a lab-setting.
Over the study, as the subjects tolerance to cannabis increased the reductions in OCD behavior decreased slightly. But overall, there was a strong correlation between using THC and having a significant reduction in compulsions, obsessive behaviors, intrusive thoughts and general anxiety. At least in the short term.
Meaning, as long as the study subjects were high, they were happy and their OCD was half the problem it normally is. It wasn’t a forever-cure, but at least for a few hours they were a little more relaxed and weren’t plagued by compulsions.
This is one of the first times the effects of THC and CBD have been tested on OCD patients. According to Cuttler, this is a vastly understudied area that could hold a lot of potential for treating affective disorders like OCD.
"To me, the CBD findings are really promising because it is not intoxicating,” says Cuttler. “This is an area of research that would really benefit from clinical trials looking at changes in compulsions, intrusions and anxiety with pure CBD."
So, add reducing OCD symptoms to the long list of medicinal benefits cannabis offers. Both THC and CBD seem to offer relief for people suffering from this disorder, and while cannabis with THC in it can only be recreationally purchased in certain states, CBD is legal everywhere. Meaning anyone suffering from OCD who wants to experiment with this themselves, can do so no matter where in the US they live. Just make sure to buy CBD products only from lab tested/certified producers.
If you or a friend suffers from OCD, you can put this to the test yourself. Get your hands on some cannabis, get high and leave your anxieties and compulsions behind.