Cannabis Linked to Reduced OCD Symptoms by Half

The study, by WSU researchers, drew from data collected from 87 cannabis smokers.
Chris Young
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The severity of symptoms in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, are reduced by about half within four hours of smoking cannabis, a study conducted by Washington State University claims.

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, also found that higher concentrations of CBD, or cannabidiol, were associated with larger reductions in obsessive compulsions.


Promising results for people with OCD

OCD is characterized by intrusive, persistent thoughts, and repetitive, obsessive behaviors. The researchers at Washington University analyzed data added to the Strainprint app by people who self-identified as having OCD.

Strainprint is an app intended to help users determine which type of cannabis works best for them. The company behind the app provided the WSU researchers free access to users' anonymized data.

The WSU study analyzed data, logged in the app, of more than 1,800 cannabis sessions logged by 87 individuals over 31 months.

After smoking cannabis, users with OCD reported a reduction in their compulsions by up to 60 percent. Intrusive thoughts were also reported to reduce by 49 percent, and anxiety by 52 percent.

Promising CBD findings

"The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder," Carrie Cuttler, the study's corresponding author and WSU assistant professor of psychology, explained in a press release.

"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," she explained.

Though the results of the study are largely anecdotal and the researchers weren't able to test the results against a placebo control, the researchers say that their work adds to our knowledge in an area of research that is very understudied.

The study points out that further research, particularly clinical trials on the cannabis constituent CBD, may well reveal a therapeutic benefit for people with OCD, potentially leading to therapies that are more beneficial to users than traditional treatments such as the antidepressant fluoxetine.


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