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Is CBD an Effective Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Is CBD an Effective Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? (lead image)

OCD is a psychiatric condition characterized by unpleasant and disturbing thoughts, and a related urge to perform often repetitive behaviors. Its causes are not fully understood, and it widely differs from patient to patient. While CBD and cannabis are sometimes anecdotally considered to be effective treatments for OCD, there remains a lack of clinical research of the question, and effect may vary considerably between individuals.

What Are the Symptoms of OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder involves complementary obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions refer to intrusive and distressing thoughts in an individual, and are frequently focused on the following topics:

•         Fears of contamination

•         Persistent obsession with order and symmetry

•         Unwanted and troubling sexual thoughts

•         Intrusive thoughts of violence or injury

•         Fears for the  safety of loved ones

OCD is a complex and varied disorder, and obsessions may also fall into other categories. Typically, obsessions produce a need to perform a behavior, or compulsion, in response, in part to quell the anxiety. Typical compulsions include:

•         Excessive handwashing, showering, or other behaviors to maintain cleanliness

•         Reordering objects

•         Performing repetitive tasks like checking locks, windows, stove burners, or other objects

•         Obsessive counting in patterns

Compulsions can also vary widely between individuals. What causes OCD is not entirely clear; there may be genetic predispositions, and a household member with the condition can heighten the risk of others developing it. It also shows connections to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Is CBD an Effective Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

CBD is widely marketed for stress and anxiety, but clinical research surrounding the treatment of CBD for stress and CBD for anxiety is still lacking. There is evidence that the endocannabinoid system has some function in mitigating feelings of fear and anxiety, providing some support for anecdotal use of cannabis and CBD to treat OCD. Indeed, a recent (but non-controlled) study showed CBD and cannabis having a positive effect on people with OCD. However, another recent and small study with a placebo control group showed CBD to have little effect of patients’ experience of OCD.

More research is ultimately needed to effectively determine whether CBD can be an effective remedy for OCD. Individuals suffering from OCD are advised to consult with a medical professional before using CBD as a treatment.

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