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Medical Marijuana for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Does medical marijuana for OCD work to relieve all your symptoms? In this guide, learn the pros and cons of treating the anxiety and behaviors of OCD with medical marijuana now.

medical marijuana for OCD

If you’ve been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, you may feel like you’re stuck on a ferris wheel of your repetitive thoughts or behaviors with no way off the ride.

But since more states continue to legalize cannabis, you may be able to use medical marijuana for OCD treatment in conjunction with or to replace your prescription medications.

We’ll examine all the pros and cons of OCD and medical marijuana in this guide, starting with the research.


What the Studies Show About Medical Marijuana for OCD

While research on medical marijuana specifically for patients with OCD is fairly limited, enough studies currently exist to suggest it may be beneficial for mitigating many aspects of your symptoms.


Medical Evidence In Support Of Using Medical Marijuana To Treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Medical marijuana is being used to provide the same relief as certain prescription drugs without the negative side effects in patients with cancer, Parkinson’s, and even those with gut inflammation.

These studies prove medical marijuana may be able to relieve OCD symptoms such as:

Anxiety. A team of researchers studying CBD, one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis, learned it “exhibits a broad range of actions” such as lowering anxiety, fear, and compulsive actions [1].

The scientists in that trial say:

“We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

That’s because lower anxiety via medical marijuana may reduce the recurring thoughts and behaviors plaguing those with OCD and bring about more relaxation and calmness to their lives.
medical marijuana for OCD

Compulsive behavior. Experiments with CBD to control obsessive actions in animal studies suggests promising results for humans too [2].

When mice are given a drug which “reliably” makes OCD symptoms worse, they start obsessively burying marbles. This experiment is a widely used screening tool to test drugs prescribed for OCD on animals in a compulsive state.

Three separate studies have shown a strong link between using CBD and other cannabinoids to activate CB1 receptors and lower the obsessive-compulsive marble burying behaviors in these mice [3][4][5].

Depression. In one survey of over 4,400 men, daily users and those who used marijuana at least once per week reported less depressed moods, more positive outlooks, and felt physically healthier than non-marijuana users [6].

In another study, researchers used data from 12,000 entries of adults on Strainprint, a Canadian app which tracks the use of medical marijuana for adults with almost 280 medical conditions.

They learned users perceived a 50% reduction in their depressive symptoms and a 58% reduction in their anxiety and stress.

Furthermore, users achieved these perceptions with just one or two puffs of marijuana (though 10+ puffs delivered the greatest perceived reductions in these symptoms) [7].

Related: Medical Marijuana for Depression

Nausea and appetite loss. You may suffer from both of these issues if you’re prescribed medications to control your OCD. Studies suggest medical marijuana can be used to alleviate both these uncomfortable sensations [8].

Insomnia and nightmares caused by OCD medications may also be relieved with medical marijuana [9].

Yet even those these positive studies exist, there’s one potential downside to medical marijuana for OCD.

Related:


Medical Evidence Against Using Medical Marijuana To Treat OCD

Though trials shows many patients with OCD benefit from medical marijuana, other patients find their anxiety increasing after using it [10].

While specific terpenes, which are found in plant resin including marijuana, have been shown to lower the psychoactive nature of certain strains and lessen this side effect, this reaction may depend on the severity of your OCD symptoms.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Overview 

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted thoughts or actions which disrupt your normal life.

Generally a patient with OCD falls into a specific bucket of recurring obsessions or compulsions, including:

  • Intrusive ruminations or suffering from ideas you can’t seem to shake.

  • Rituals for counting or checking things several times to prevent bad things from happening.

  • Fear of dirt and contamination, which forces you to wash your hands or clean repetitively to avoid germs, illness, and death.

  • Hoarding old, broken, or useless possessions.

  • An obsession with order, organization, symmetry, patterns, etc.

When people with OCD try to ignore these thoughts or attempt to bypass their strict routines and rituals, they’re likely to experience severe distress and anxiety.

medical marijuana for OCD

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says [11]:

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.

  • Over 2 million adults, or about 1% of the U.S. population, struggle with OCD.

  • Men and women develop OCD equally and symptoms of OCD first tend to appear in young adults between the ages of 14 and 19.

Suffering from OCD makes it difficult for people to focus on their loved ones or advance their careers so all areas of their lives suffer too.

This then increases the psychological effects of OCD and puts patients at a higher risk for developing loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, exhaustion and pressure to be perfect, and constantly feeling as if nothing’s going right.

What’s worse is studies show the number of people receiving treatment for OCD is on the rise [12].

Typical OCD Treatment Options

Since medical experts don’t exactly know what causes OCD, there are several approaches to treating it, including: 

  • Medication such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), tricyclic antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.

  • Cognitive therapy from individual therapy sessions, group therapy, and family therapy which focuses on ways to deal with and control OCD obsessions and rituals.

  • Exposure and response prevention therapy. With this, a trained doctor will actively put you in situations where your OCD would normally take over. Your doctor will then help you unpack your thoughts and resist your compulsions to “retrain” how your brain responds to these triggers and banish your OCD symptoms for good.

While therapy has been shown to work well for those with OCD, it can take awhile to see the desired results, which is why medications are often used in the meantime.

medical marijuana for OCD

The bad news is that many antidepressants and medications to lessen anxiety may be effective, but they also come with negative side effects like:

  • Nausea and diarrhea

  • Headaches

  • Agitation and depression

  • Insomnia

  • Blurred vision

  • Weight gain

  • Drowsiness, confusion, memory loss, and impaired thinking

These side effects may be so disruptive and uncomfortable patients stop taking their medications and never get the treatment they need.

On the other hand, medical marijuana for OCD may be able to provide the same relief without any of the unwanted side effects.


Trying Medical Marijuana for OCD Treatment 

Patients with obsessive compulsive disorder have shown positive results with the usage of medical marijuana. 

If you are interested in trying medical marijuana for your OCD, or are inquiring for a loved one, you should first seek out your local laws to determine the legality of the drug in your state, the types of medicine you can use, where to get it, and how much you need.

If you are located in Florida, check out THC Physicians for your medical evaluation, the first step in getting a Florida Medical Marijuana Card.

References:

  1. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/

  2. Cannabidiol reverses the mCPP?induced increase in marble?burying behavior: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/fcp.12051

  3. Cannabidiol inhibitory effect on marble-burying behaviour: involvement of CB1 receptors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20695034

  4. Facilitation of CB1 receptor-mediated neurotransmission decreases marble burying behavior in mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21111767

  5. Plasma and brain pharmacokinetic profile of cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarine (CBDV), ??-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabigerol (CBG) in rats and mice following oral and intraperitoneal administration and CBD action on obsessive-compulsive behaviour. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21796370

  6. Decreased depression in marijuana users: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306460305001577

  7. A naturalistic examination of the perceived effects of cannabis on negative affect: https://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327(18)30310-0/fulltext

  8. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165951/

  9. Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349316

  10. Cannabinoid-related agents in the treatment of anxiety disorders: current knowledge and future perspectives: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3691841/

  11. https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

  12. Register-based study of the incidence, comorbidities and demographics of obsessive-compulsive disorder in specialist healthcare: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5301466/


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).

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