Cannabis for OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that can affect individuals of all ages. The main symptom of OCD is when a person is caught up in a cycle of different obsessions and compulsions.
Persons with OCD have obsession that are manifested by intrusive thoughts or urges that trigger stressful feelings. Compulsions are characterized by behaviors that a person does in order to get rid of their obsession, or reduce the stressed caused by it. While many people end up having obsessive or compulsive behavior at one point in their lives, this doesn’t mean that you have OCD.
For you to be diagnosed with OCD, the obsession and compulsiveness becomes too extreme that it often gets in the way of your quality of life. People suffering from extreme OCD have a difficult time keeping jobs, staying focused at school, or maintaining healthy relationships. Obsessions and/or compulsions for people with OCD are usually time-consuming, and can occur for over an hour a day, thereby affection your professional and social life.
Around 1.2% of Americans suffer from OCD, and more women are affected than men. Symptoms of OCD typically begin during childhood or early adulthood, although the average age for the condition to clearly manifest itself is 19 years old.
Some of the most common obsessions in those with OCD include contamination, losing control, unwanted sexual thoughts, religious obsessions, fear of getting harmed or harming others, and perfectionism. On the other hand, the most common compulsions include washing and cleaning, mental compulsions, frequently checking and rechecking things.
Medications are typically prescribed to help patients manage OCD, such as antidepressants and SRI’s (serotonin reuptake inhibitors). However, these drugs often have debilitating side effects, including addiction, nervousness, sexual problems, cotton mouth, nausea, and drowsiness.
How Can Cannabis Help?
The symptoms of OCD vary from person to person. Depending on an individual’s unique obsession or compulsions, certain strains of cannabis can help. Some patients of OCD might not feel like cannabis can help them regain control although many patients have been able to successfully use the herb to give them a sense of control and inner peace.
Cannabis though, can be considered a natural healthy alternative to SRI’s and antidepressants because of its natural ability to quell the anxiety caused by OCD. Just like other anxiety-related disorders, OCD can interfere with life that can make things seem unpredictable and out of control.
Recent research from brazil showed that CBD is promising in the treatment of OCD symptoms. The study, led by Dr. Francisco Guimarãesof the University of Sao Paulo’s School of Medicine, analyzed the effects of CBD in animal subjects who were administered with mCPP, a medication that halts the effects of conventional OCD drugs. The findings revealed that CBD, even at low doses, was significant in reversing OCD symptoms caused by mCPP. The study’s authors said that the results were supportive of “a possible anti-convulsive effect of CBD”.
It’s thought that serotonin levels play a significant role in OCD and its symptoms. While researchers are still unsure of how exactly CBD affects the system to reduce OCD symptoms, some studies suggest that the activation of CB1 receptors is beneficial.
The authors of the study also state:
“These results suggest that the serotonergic and cannabinoid systems interact to control repetitive behaviors, although the precise nature of this interaction is not clear.”
In another study conducted in 2011, researchers were effectively able to reduce OCD behavior in rats by administering synthetic cannabinoids that are similar to THC in nature.
Additionally, cannabis has also shown to be promising in the treatment of OCD in other ways. SRI medicines work by enabling the body to produce serotonin, a chemical in the brain responsible for regulating moods. Although cannabis doesn’t stimulate serotonin production in the body, it does produce a substance in the brain called anandamide. When anandamide interacts with the THC in cannabis, this results in a soothing, calming effect throughout the body which may be effective in reducing the anxiety experienced by patients of OCD. The reduction of anxiety also decreases the compulsive urges associated with OCD.
Last but not least, cannabis is also effective in treating nausea, a common side effect among OCD patients. If an individual with OCD still needs to take conventional medications, they can help address the negative side effects including nausea by integrating medical cannabis into their treatment program.
Have you used cannabis to treat OCD? Share your stories with us in the comments below!