Study Suggests Cannabis May Reduce OCD Symptoms by 50%

The WSU study analyzed data from more than 1,800 cannabis treatment sessions spread out over a 31-month period.

A team of researchers from Washington State University (WSU) has found that patients suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be able to reduce the severity of their symptoms by as much as 50%.

However, the researchers only examined cannabis as a short-term healthcare option for OCD, stating that more research is needed before a definitive conclusion can be reached on its viability for long-term treatment.

The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder. 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. Washington State University Assistant Professor of Psychology, Carrie Cuttler

The WSU study analysed data from more than 1,800 cannabis treatment sessions spread out between 87 patients over a 31-month period.

The longer time period was chosen to investigate whether the patients would gradually develop a tolerance for cannabis, although the researchers were unable to record conclusive evidence supporting this hypothesis.

While the researchers did observe a decrease in the impact on symptoms over time—which implies that the users were gradually developing a tolerance—cannabis still produced a substantial reduction in the frequency of anxiety and compulsive thoughts.

This indicates that cannabis may hold significant therapeutic potential for those suffering from OCD, which is an important development as most healthcare models for the disorder typically focus on exposure and response prevention therapy.    

"Specifically, it seems likely that the sample predominantly comprises individuals who find cannabis effective in managing their symptoms," the study states.

"Individuals who find it ineffective and/or who do not tolerate its side effects would likely stop using cannabis and the app to track such use. This is further supported by evidence of individual differences in the efficacy of cannabis in reducing symptoms."

The data echoes previous animal studies into the management of compulsive behavior using CBD, although the researchers noted that further human trials would be necessary to validate targeted therapeutic use.

The study's authors also acknowledged the limitations of self-reported data, citing the infamous "expectancy effect" as one potential form of patient bias.  

"We're trying to build knowledge about the relationship of cannabis use and OCD because it's an area that is really understudied," co-author Dakota Mauzay said.


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Hugo Gray
Hugo Gray

Hugo Gray is a Melbourne-based journalist with a body of work that covers a diverse range of topics, including immigration law, sex technology, and now the rapidly expanding cannabis industry.

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