Many of us have joked around with comments like “I’m so OCD!” when talking about tidiness or an above-average focus on organization. Though these three simple letters have become a part of the common vernacular, OCD (short for obsessive-compulsive disorder) can be a serious and life-altering condition for those diagnosed. Because it has such a significant impact on daily life, those who live with OCD must work closely with their doctors to find an effective treatment plan, which may include a combination of medications and therapies.
Recently, interest has grown in a potential connection between OCD and CBD products. In this article, a brief overview of OCD symptoms and treatments will be followed by an exploration of the latest research on CBD and OCD, plus advice on how much CBD to take for OCD.
What is OCD?
Let’s begin with a short overview of obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD is characterized by patterns of unreasonable thoughts and fears, which trigger intense stress, anxiety, and repetitive behaviors. Individuals diagnosed with OCD are unable to ignore their intrusive thoughts, which leads them to perform repetitive behaviors as a method of alleviating anxiety caused by those thoughts. In many cases, these thoughts and actions are centered on a particular theme, such as germs or cleanliness. Over time, the thoughts and behaviors intrude with patients’ ability to lead a satisfying, productive life; they may eventually lead to health issues, loss of work and personal relationships, and suicidal thoughts.
Though the medical community has recognized its symptoms for decades, research on OCD has expanded dramatically since the mid-1990s. It’s estimated that 2-3% of the population is affected by OCD, including around 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children. In addition, research suggests that more than a quarter of adults experience some symptoms of OCD in their lifetime, even if they don’t meet the formal criteria for diagnosis. These statistics have led the WHO to cite OCD as one of the top 20 illness-related disabilities in the world for people between 15 and 44. With such staggering numbers in mind, it’s no wonder that effective treatments for OCD are the focus of extensive research.
How is OCD Usually Treated?
Because the causes of OCD are not well understood (though most research points toward a mixture of genetics, body chemistry, and environmental factors), treatment can be ongoing and complex. For most patients, psychotherapy is a key element of living successfully with OCD. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy can help to manage the intrusive thoughts associated with OCD. Exposure and response therapy, also known as ERP, can also help patients overcome specific sources of fear and anxiety through gradually increased interactions with triggering objects or scenarios.
In addition to therapeutic approaches, many people with OCD see significant improvements with medication. Most psychiatrists recommend antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft as treatments for OCD.
Why Try CBD Oil for OCD?
While a combination of therapy and medication provides relief for a significant number of patients, many OCD sufferers continue to seek alternative or supplementary treatment options. This may be particularly true if the side effects of the medications outweigh their benefits. In those instances, CBD has offered a promising new avenue of treatment for OCD patients.
Why could CBD be beneficial for obsessive-compulsive disorder? The link between CBD and OCD starts with research on anxiety. OCD is classified by psychiatrists as a part of the same major category as anxiety disorders, which have been studied extensively in connection to CBD. The latest research reflects, “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.”
CBD can be effective as a treatment for anxiety because it contains cannabinoids, natural compounds that interact with a network of receptors in our bodies known as the endocannabinoid system. These receptors regulate bodily functions including memory, pain, inflammation and mood. Studies show that CBD can provide natural calming effects, which means that it can help to reduce stress—and stress-triggered behaviors—associated with OCD. In some cases, CBD has been proven as effective as common pharmaceutical sedatives like diazepam. In one recent study, a striking 79.2% of patients reported decreased anxiety after a period of CBD treatment.
The research above suggests that CBD can possibly function as part of a successful treatment plan for OCD by relieving the anxiety and stress caused by intrusive thoughts, in turn lessening the need for repetitive behaviors. While a combination of therapy and medication may be necessary to retrain the brains of OCD patients and help them avoid the intrusive thoughts that trigger compulsive behaviors in the first place, CBD may help to alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with unwanted thoughts, clearing the path to a more successful recovery by helping patients avoid unwanted behaviors.
What’s the Right Amount of CBD for OCD?
Studies have shown that taking too much CBD can actually cause heightened anxiety, so a conservative approach is important if you’d like to try CBD for obsessive-compulsive disorder. When it comes to determining the amount of CBD to take for OCD, it’s best to start with the lowest possible dose then increase very slowly until you see the desired results.
While there’s no standardized amount of CBD, many patients find a daily dose of 10 to 20mg effective for anxiety-related conditions. Alternately, adults may calculate a serving size by using a ratio of 1 to 6mg of CBD for every 10 pounds of their body weight. Finally, you can consult the packaging of most commercially available CBD products (like oils, pills, and gummies), which generally provide a recommended serving size.
Final Thoughts on CBD and OCD
If you’ve thought about adding CBD to your treatment plan for obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may have some questions about its safety. Many people who are unfamiliar with CBD wonder if it has psychoactive effects associated with other types of cannabis. Good news—the answer is no! As long as you choose products made from CBD only, they won’t cause a high; this should make them safe for daily use.
Before beginning a CBD treatment plan for OCD, it’s important to consult with a medical professional. Your doctor can advise you on how to incorporate CBD into your daily routine, make sure it won’t interact with any existing medications, and monitor you for any side effects. (Most CBD users experience no side effects or very mild ones; the most common are drowsiness and upset stomach.) With proper application and medical guidance, CBD may be a valuable addition to your OCD treatment plan.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Due to FDA Regulations, we recommend that you do your own research on CBD products. We also suggest that you read the reviews on our website, where our customers record their real-world results of using our products.