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Could Cannabis Help Replace Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Medications?

Posted on October 05 2020

Could Cannabis Help Replace Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Medications?

Researchers are unlocking new uses for cannabis every day, and with research about its medicinal uses on the rise, more and more evidence leans towards identifying it as a potential treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Of course, almost all of this evidence points toward on cannabinoid in specific that's been gaining popularity: cannabidiol.

OCD is a psychological disorder typically treated with non-narcotic and narcotic medications. There are more than 200,000 cases of OCD in the United States every year, which may lend reason to the urgency behind identifying CBD as a useful supplement for the condition. Many of these 200,000 cases involve people who rely on daily medication in order to reduce their symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these medications potentially have some pretty nasty side effects, and their long-term effects may result in other disorders.

There is quite a bit of evidence so far that cannabidiol could treat and potentially cure obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and many patients are already using CBD regularly help them manage their symptoms.

What is OCD?

OCD is a psychological disorder characterized by repetitive obsessions that cause compulsions. This means that the patient is generally fixated on one or a few specific issues, which could include germs, violence, religious activities, and more.

These obsessions generally lead to compulsive behaviors, like obsessive hand-washing or checking the lock on the door repeatedly. Obsessive-compulsive tendencies are caused by disruptions in the brain and chemical imbalances in the limbic system. It can be a result of trauma or other life experiences and is sometimes difficult to treat.

Several medications exist that are frequently used to treat OCD, like SSRI's. These medications specifically work to cancel the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which may help regulate chemicals and emotions, encouraging the brain to produce more serotonin.

Generally, SSRI's, like Prozac, are efficient at treating OCD. Prozac may be the most commonly prescribed medication for OCD patients. However, like many medications, there's a laundry list of potential side effects. This list even includes a black box warning for potentially increasing or creating suicidal behavior.

OCD affects a number of people, with more patients being women than men. Many men and women who suffer from OCD are dependent on medications like Prozac in order to control their symptoms. Luckily, research shows that CBD may be a good candidate for replacing these medications.

How Can Cannabidiol Help?

When CBD binds with CB receptors in the body, it reduces the reabsorption of anandamide, one of the brains “happy” chemicals. Anandamide is partially responsible for feelings of “bliss.” Just like with Prozac and serotonin, preventing reabsorption leads the body to believe that not enough anandamide was produced, eventually leading to an increase in production.

Eventually, after regular CBD use, anandamide levels flourish, which helps create positive, relaxed feelings. These feelings can help create balance and reduce feelings of obsessions that lead to compulsive behaviors. CBD may help reduce symptoms of anxiety overall, helping the patient experience calm feelings even in moments of stress.

The Research Behind CBD for OCD

Several studies have looked at the impact of cannabidiol on obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive tendencies. One study, in particular, compared the results of regular CBD doses and regular Prozac doses in mice. The mice were given ecstasy, a drug that has shown to increase obsessive-compulsive behaviors in humans. Then the mice were treated with high doses of cannabidiol for a period of time.

Later, the mice were not given cannabidiol, but Prozac instead. In both cases, the obsessive-compulsive behaviors ceased in nearly every subject. The results showed substantial evidence that cannabidiol has very similar results to Prozac.

Another study looked at the effects on cannabidiol on brain activity, specifically activity related to obsessive-compulsive tendencies. The test included ten healthy patients who were divided into two groups. The first week one group received a daily dose of cannabidiol while the other received a placebo.

The next week, the groups were reversed. Each week the subjects were evaluated by researchers and underwent brain scans to compare to the original images taken before the trial began.

Researchers found several things during this study. First, when patients took cannabidiol, they reported lower levels of anxiety overall. The groups showed no change in anxiety levels after taking the placebo.

The imaging revealed that cannabidiol led to decreased blood flow in several parts of the brain, all parts of the limbic region. The limbic region is responsible for creating memories and emotional responses to stimuli. This area is responsible for conditions like ADHD, epilepsy, dementia, and of course, OCD. Lessening the blood flow may prevent hyperactivity to lower obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Best CBD Products for Treating OCD

There are hundreds of CBD products available that may be beneficial for treating OCD. However, the most popular products chosen by OCD patients include:

  • Tinctures: Tinctures are a popular treatment for OCD because they take effect quickly, which gives the patient the option of dosing when they begin to feel anxious or experience compulsive tendencies. CBD tinctures are taken sublingually, meaning they are dropped under the tongue, which allows them to immediately enter the bloodstream through a small group of blood vessels located inside the mouth. Many people choose tinctures for regular CBD use because they are easy to measure for once or twice daily doses.

  • Capsules: CBD capsules also make a great option for patients who wish to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder because they offer a pre-measured dose that can be taken regularly every day. It is important to note that CBD capsules may not take effect as quickly as tinctures because they must be processed by the digestive tract first. This means that they must be metabolized before entering the bloodstream. However, capsules are a popular choice for patients who do not care for the flavor of tinctures.

  • Edibles: CBD edibles also deliver a pre-measured dose of cannabidiol to the body, which may make them useful for patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. They do help mask the hempy flavor of the cannabidiol, which may make them suitable for people who don't care for the taste of tinctures. They are also a pre-measured dose, which makes them convenient and easy to take throughout the day.
    However, they must also be processed by digestion, so you should expect CBD edibles to take effect after around 30 minutes to an hour. Some people report that the effects of edibles seem to last longer than other types of CBD products, probably because the digestive tract processes the edible more slowly. Because the effects may last longer and may be suitable for treating OCD throughout the day.
  • Vaporizers: CBD vapes are also a popular choice because they take effect quickly like tinctures, but are easy to transport and help mask the hempy flavor. Vaporizers offer a unique advantage because you can take a small dose and wait only a short amount of time to feel the effects.
      After about 15 minutes, if more cannabidiol is needed to help reduce obsessive-compulsive tendencies, you can simply take another dose and quickly feel the effects. Vaping CBD allows you to enjoy a range of different flavors, which makes it preferable for some users.

Of course, if you prefer more traditional methods, high-CBD marijuana strains can also be smoked or vaporized and used as a potential treatment for OCD. 


Should I Try CBD For My OCD?

There's a lot of evidence that suggests that cannabidiol could be an effective treatment for OCD. If you think that cannabidiol might be the right treatment for your OCD, or looking for a more natural treatment to replace your current medications, you should talk to your doctor about using cannabis oil to treat your symptoms.

It is important that you don't stop taking any prescription medication without first notifying your doctor. Some medication that is used for treating OCD requires you to stop slowly in order to avoid some adverse reactions. You and your doctor can work together to design a cannabidiol routine that works for you. The natural solution to obsessive-compulsive tendencies may be closer than you think.