CBD Effects on OCD
Posted on August 10th, 2020
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, also referred to as OCD, is more common than most people think. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, over 1.2% of adults in the United States have been diagnosed in this condition, and out of the bunch, around 80% are severely impacted. Since obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder, it’s to no surprise that the question has come about on whether CBD effects may help to alleviate symptoms of OCD. There haven’t been many studies surrounding this field, but the potential benefits of CBD are now widely known. So, what are the effects of CBD on OCD? Let us delve deeper.
What Is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental condition that is often characterized by unwanted or distressing thoughts that happen regularly and make the individual anxious, which leads to an obsessive as well as compulsive behavior. A few examples include hand washing, touching things, again and again, social interactions, and checking things constantly. In some cases, these behaviors reach a point whereby they start affecting the person’s daily life. When this condition gets severe, it can affect a person’s ability to lead a normal, successful life. Undiagnosed and untreated OCD can result in health issues, loss of relationships and job, and in the worst case, harmful thoughts.
Looking at the records, 1 in 100 children and 1 in 40 adults suffer from this condition and the number of cases since the ‘90s has been increasing. This has resulted in extensive research in this area, especially how to manage it.
Obsessions in the condition may include discomfort by pollution, intense fixations, disturbed by dirt, damage, sexuality, fear, superstitions, religious scruples, and more. Compulsions, on the other hand, include repetitive thoughts and behaviors that prohibit or neutralize obsessions. Repeated actions can happen like over-cleaning or washing, multiple activities, repetitive body movements, continuous checks, self-correcting, continuous re-organization, and more.
What Are the Causes of OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder behaviors and symptoms sometimes match other anxiety disorders, usually making it hard to diagnose. However, what we know is that the ailment might come from human neurology. What’s more is that the rate of increased symptoms in close relatives is typically higher, meaning there might be a substantial genetic component as well.
With this information, it is clear that the diagnosis and treatment of the causes of OCD are complex and, in some cases, misdirected. According to Psychology Today researchers, attention has shifted from an early childhood psychological setting to a clinical approach that’s research-driven. This is in regard to the interaction of neurobiological, environmental, and cognitive factors that impact the onset of the condition.
Psychologists are also reviewing how the ailment may develop from sexual or physical traumas in early childhood.
What Do We Know About CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid, one of the many compounds found in both the hemp and cannabis plant. However, it contains little to no THC, which is responsible for the high feeling you get from consuming weed or marijuana. This separates cannabidiol from other controlled substances such as hashish and marijuana.
In case you’re wondering, CBD has been legalized in the United States after the 2018 Farm Bill was passed. This means you are allowed to purchase and consume CBD in most states. However, it is always important to check with the state laws before purchasing any CBD-infused product, as not all states support the use of CBD.
So, Can CBD Effects Really Help OCD?
CBD is widely known for its potential health effects. It is best known for its potential to alleviate aches, help manage symptoms of anxiety, positively impacting cholesterol, and anti-inflammatory properties. Since this condition is an anxiety disorder, it’s possible that CBD effects may hamper the symptoms of OCD.
Currently, most people with OCD are treated with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and anti-depressants. However, according to research done on cannabis and cannabinoids, CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a network of receptors that help maintain equilibrium in emotions and other processes. This helps maintain balance in serotonin levels in the body.
CBD oil also regulates neurotransmitters in the body, and this, in turn, might help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety. CBD may also help ailments like epilepsy and seizures, among other similar conditions.
However, even with several studies and promising results, therapy and medicines are still recommended as the primary OCD treatments. If you are interested in introducing CBD into your routine, ensure you consult your practitioner before doing so and pay attention to the dosage. If nothing else, the substance may help calm your nerves and hamper the recurrence of unwanted behavior or thoughts.
Tips for Using CBD for OCD
Before you begin consuming CBD to help manage symptoms of OCD, it is important to first consult your practitioner. You want to be certain that CBD is the best and safest option for you. Also, given its possible drug interactions, it’s best to seek medical advice before indulging.
Once you determine that CBD is an ideal option for your situation, there are several varying forms of consumption that you can choose from. Most individuals will base their decisions on their lifestyle preferences and needs. If you want to use CBD as a supplement, then CBD oil, capsules, drops, edibles, and tinctures are an excellent choice. They are easy to incorporate into a daily routine and you can expect the effects to last for several hours.
CBD Edibles and Capsules
CBD oil edibles and capsules are familiar to most individuals and offer a relatively consistent dosage. The only con is that the effects take longer to manifest. The substance needs to pass through the digestive system before making its way to the bloodstream. This means you need to wait for at least 30 minutes to an hour for the effect to take place. However, the effects last for a while, usually between 4 and 6 hours.
CBD oil drops or tinctures also have an array of benefits. Similar to edibles, they can be incorporated into a daily supplement regime. However, they can ideally be excellent for addressing symptoms faster than edibles or capsules. With tinctures or drops, CBD is absorbed in the region under the tongue, going straight into the bloodstream. The effects occur almost instantly and last anywhere between 1 to 4 hours. CBD tinctures come in small bottles that can easily fit in your pocket or handbag. This makes them an ideal choice for people who want to be discrete when consuming CBD in public and also want to adjust their dose either up or down, depending on their needs.
CBD flower and CBD vape oils offer the quickest relief option for sudden symptoms. Here, the CBD is absorbed through the lungs, allowing the effects to occur almost immediately. The downside is that the effects are short-lived, usually an hour, and it’s not always appropriate or convenient to smoke or vape. It’s also important to note that vaping has been linked to several lung-related illnesses, so it may not offer the safest alternative.
All these forms of CBD intake have specific benefits. Given the low risk that comes with CBD consumption, you can go for a combination of products that match your needs. You can pick one for your daily supplementation, and carry one around for any symptoms that may arise during the day. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the best, distinct solution for you.
Finding the Right CBD Dosage
When it comes to finding the right CBD oil dosage for OCD, you will want to keep the following in mind:
- Begin with a minimum dosage and gradually increase it
- Consult your general practitioner for the same
Even with the above in mind, the best CBD dosage advice is to keep it as minimum as you can. In some cases, a huge CBD dosage can lead to more issues than solutions.
Also, it’s imperative to know that there’s no standard CBD oil dosage as many manufacturers and products vary on potency and dosage instructions. On average, individuals consume between 10-30mg of CBD daily to help ease symptoms of anxiety. You can, therefore, start with 10mg and gradually go up until you get the desired results. Ideally, CBD doesn’t have adverse side effects, so do not fret if you feel slight discomfort after consumption. The few and meager side effects do not typically last more than a day. If the effects last longer than this, you may want to go slow on the consumption and consult your doctor on the matter.
To answer the question, CBD effects might be able to help cope with symptoms of OCD. The research behind this field shows potential and CBD may help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and among other conditions. Be sure to look for a high-quality CBD from a reputable source. To ascertain this, always make sure you buy from a trusted, licensed, and transparent dealer.
Since OCD is an anxiety disorder, it's to no surprise that the question has come about on whether CBD effects may help to alleviate symptoms of OCD.
Cannabis Can Reduce OCD Symptoms by Half, New Study Suggests
Cannabis could cut the severity of some symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) by more than half, say researchers from Washington State University.
In a new research paper, currently in pre-proof in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the researchers detail their observations of data collected from the Strainprint app, a third-party app that provides patients with a means of recording their medical cannabis use and tracking changes in their symptoms.
They found that app users who self-identified as having OCD – a condition characterized by persistent intrusive thoughts and repetitive behavior – reported significant reductions in their compulsions, intrusions, and anxiety within four hours of smoking cannabis.
High CBD cannabis associated with a larger reduction in symptoms
In total, the app data studied by researchers included over 1,800 cannabis use sessions recorded by 87 people across a period of 31 months. The people, who all claimed to have OCD, recorded the severity of their intrusions, compulsions, and/or anxiety both before and after using cannabis.
Compulsions manifest in many ways and can include behaviors such as frequently double-checking locks and appliances, excessive handwashing, and performing mental rituals like counting or repeating specific words for reassurance. According to the app data, users experienced a 60 percent reduction in their compulsive behaviors within four hours of using cannabis.
Intrusive thoughts were also effectively reduced following cannabis use, by an average of 49 percent. Similarly, cannabis use resulted in a 52 percent drop in feelings of anxiety.
Notably, the researchers also found that cannabis with a higher concentration of CBD, and higher doses of cannabis in general, were both associated with larger reductions in compulsions.
The long timeframe of the study allowed the researchers to look for effects of tolerance, but this data was more mixed. In general, as people continued to use cannabis the associated reduction in intrusions became slightly smaller, which may suggest that a certain amount of tolerance was being built up. However, cannabis use remained equally effective in reducing compulsive behaviors and anxiety across the study period.
“The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said Carrie Cuttler, an assistant professor of psychology at WSU and the study’s corresponding author.
“To me, the CBD findings are really promising because it is not intoxicating. This is an area of research that would really benefit from clinical trials looking at changes in compulsions, intrusions and anxiety with pure CBD.”
Cannabis for OCD
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that cannabis and/or CBD isolate might be helpful in treating the symptoms of OCD.
A 2019 review article published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research explained how the same regions of the brain and the central nervous system that are linked to the cannabinoid receptor CB1 and the endocannabinoid system have also been implicated in research on OCD. This overlap in neural circuitry could be the biological basis behind how cannabis might attenuate the symptoms of OCD.
Several animal and human cannabinoid studies investigated for the review indicated that modulation of the body’s endocannabinoid system could result in an anti-anxiety effect, and decrease responsiveness to stress. The endocannabinoid system, and more specifically the cannabinoid receptor CB1, was also found to have links to habit learning and repetitive behavior. From this, the researchers hypothesized that insufficient activity at the CB1 receptor might lead to developing a dependence on learned behaviors and habits, akin to the compulsions seen in people with OCD.
Despite finding evidence of this neurological link, the review authors were only able to find three case studies dealing directly with OCD and the effect of cannabis on its symptoms. All three dealt with individuals in their 20s and 30s and had responded poorly to conventional treatment. In two cases, the OCD was also accompanied by an additional mental health condition, either major depression or schizophrenia. In all three cases, a course of treatment using the synthetic cannabinoid dronabinol was able to drop the patients’ condition from a “moderate,” “severe” or “extreme” designation down to a “mild” case severity.
Strainprint data also reveals helpfulness for PTSD, headache, and wellbeing
The researchers for the present OCD study noted that being able to use the app data for analysis was extremely valuable as it provided a large dataset to draw from. And because the app’s users were likely using cannabis purchased through their local legal cannabis market and consuming in their own home environment, the data could better reflect the realities of medical cannabis use than the data from lab studies using federally grown research cannabis.
This is also not the first time that Cuttler and her colleagues have used anonymized data provided by Strainprint for cannabis research. In recent years, her team at WSU has linked medical cannabis use to significant temporary relief from the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a reduction in short-term feelings of depression and anxiety, and effective pain relief for headache and migraine sufferers.
Despite the benefits of this study design, the WSU researchers note that the method leaves no placebo group for researchers to compare results against. As such, there may be some form of “expectancy effect” in the results, whereby patients expect to feel better from cannabis use and so report that they do.
Still, Cuttler and her colleagues maintain that this study provides a strong basis for further research into the study of cannabis – and particularly high-CBD cannabis or CBD isolate – as a potential therapeutic avenue for helping people with OCD.
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Cannabis Can Reduce OCD Symptoms by Half, New Study Suggests Cannabis could cut the severity of some symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) by more than half, say