Obsessive-compulsive order symptoms could be eased by cannabis according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
The Washington State University study found people with OCD experienced reduced severity in their symptoms within four hours of smoking cannabis.
OCD can affect men, women and children and its symptoms are very distressing, featuring a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead people to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). For example people with OCD may have an obsessive fear of getting contaminated by germs and compulsively wash their hands until they are sore and bleeding. Or new mothers may worry about harming their baby and repeatedly check the baby is breathing.
The researchers analysed data that 87 people who identified as having OCD entered into the Strainprint app—a free cannabis and medical marijuana app that helps people track their usage of the drug.
Their results found that users with OCD who smoked cannabis reported it reduced compulsions by 60 percent, intrusions or unwanted thoughts by 49 percent and anxiety by 52 percent.
However this was a survey not a controlled scientific trial and these were short term results—over the longer term, reductions in OCD symptoms relating to compulsions and anxiety remained relatively stable, but improvements in intrusive thoughts seemed to wane.
Interestingly though, compulsions were reduced more when the dose of cannabis contained higher concentrations of cannibidiol or CBD—the non-psychoactive part of the plant.
“The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said researcher Carrie Cuttler. “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.”
A prior placebo-controlled study on the subject, published this year, found cannabis had no greater effect on OCD than placebo. However, some animal studies have found doses of CBD may inhibit compulsive behavior.