CBD halves symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder

New study reports cannabis cuts symptoms of OCD in half in the short term

According to a study from Washington State University, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) report that the severity of their symptoms was halved for four hours after using cannabis. Little is known about the acute effects of cannabis on OCD symptoms in humans. Therefore, this study sought to examine whether symptoms of OCD are significantly reduced after inhaling cannabis. In particular to examine the predictors of these symptom changes: gender, dose, cannabis components and time factors. Accordingly, explore the long-term potentials of repeated cannabis use to self-medicate for symptoms of OCD, including dose changes over time.

symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder
Strainprint® application

The researchers analyzed data captured by the Strainprint® app on people identified as suffering from OCD. A condition characterized by intrusive and persistent thoughts and repetitive behaviors such as compulsive checking that a door is closed. Specifically, data was analyzed on 87 people who tracked the severity of their intrusions, compulsions and / or anxiety immediately before and after. A total of 1810 sessions of cannabis use over a 31-month period.

After smoking cannabis, users with OCD reported that it reduced their compulsions by 60%, intrusions or unwanted thoughts by 49%, and anxiety by 52%.

Cannabidiol concentrations are linked to reductions

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, found that higher doses, and cannabis with higher concentrations of cannabidiol, were associated with greater reductions in compulsions.

“The overall results indicate that cannabis may have short-term, but not really long-term, beneficial effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said Carrie Cuttler, corresponding study author and assistant professor of psychology at WSU. “For me, the results of CBD are really promising because it is not intoxicating. This is an area of ​​research that would really benefit from clinical trials examining changes in compulsions, intrusions and anxiety with CBD ”.

This long time allowed researchers to assess whether users developed tolerance to cannabis. As people continued to use, the reductions in interference became slightly smaller. However, the relationship between cannabis and reduced compulsions and anxiety remained fairly consistent.

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Traditional treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder include exposure prevention and response therapy. This therapy involves directly questioning people's irrational thoughts about their behavior. This is followed by the prescription of antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors to reduce symptoms. Although these treatments have positive effects for many patients, they do not cure the disorder. In addition, they do not work well for all people with OCD.

Little study on the subject

We are trying to gain knowledge about the relationship between cannabis use and OCD. This is an area that is really under-studied. said Dakota Mauzay, the article's first author.

Apart from their own research, the researchers did not find only one other human study on the subject. A small clinical trial with 12 participants found that there were reductions in OCD symptoms after cannabis use. However, the number of patients was not greater than the reductions associated with placebo.

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The WSU researchers noted that one of the limitations of their study was the inability to use a placebo control. More precisely that a “hope effect” could play a role in the results. That is, when people expect to feel better about what they usually do. The data also came from a self-selected sample of cannabis users, and there was variability in the results. In the end, this means that not everyone has experienced the same reduction in symptoms after using.

However, Cuttler said this analysis of information provided by users through the Strainprint app is particularly valuable. It provided a large body of data on participants who used marketed cannabis in their home environment. Compared to cannabis grown by the federal government in a lab, this may affect their responses.

 Strainprint's app is intended to help users determine which types of cannabis work best for them. The company provided researchers at the WSU with free access to anonymized user data for research purposes.

According to Cuttler, this study highlights that further research may reveal therapeutic potential for people with OCD.


This is the fourth study that Cuttler and his colleagues have conducted. With the aim of examining the effects of cannabis on various mental health conditions using data provided by the application created by the Canadian company Strainprint. Other studies examine the impact of cannabis on symptoms of PTSD, on headache reduction and on emotional well-being.

Inhaled cannabis appears to have short-term beneficial effects on the symptoms of OCD. However, tolerance to the effects on intrusions may develop over time.

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