Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessions (thoughts) and compulsions (behavior). Some people only suffer from obsessive thoughts. An obsessive thought may be that you are afraid someone will break into your house. The compulsion that accompanies this thought may be that you repeatedly check if the door is locked.
There are several known case reports that suggest that THC may be effective against OCD. Also an animal study has been performed, which will be the focus for this article. The effect of CBD on OCD has not been studied, as far as we know, but we will discuss this nonetheless.
We know that there are two endocannabinoids (AEA en 2-AG) that influence our behavior in situations that provoke anxiety or stress. AEA and 2-AG are broken down by two enzymes (FAAH en MAGL). If we suppress these enzymes this will affect our behavior under stress. O’Neal and colleagues studied how the manipulation of FAAH en MAGL influences the behavior of rats . The rats were placed in a new cage with marbles on a bedding. This test is often used to recreate a situation in which obsessive-compulsive behavior can be observed in animals. The rats in this study got injected with different substances to study what the effects were on marble burying behavior. One of these substances was THC, on which we will focus for now. It turned out that THC had an inhibitory effect on the burying of marbles in lower doses as well as in higher doses. In higher doses it also affected locomotion function though. What we know about the effect of THC on people is that it reduces anxiety in lower doses, but that it can provoke anxiety in higher doses.
Advise for using cannabinoids against obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
There are some indications that THC may lessen the symptoms of OCD. At the same time we know that THC in higher dosages may provoke anxiety. We know about CBD that it is able to work against the anxiety that is caused by THC. A combination of THC and CBD could theoretically be effective against OCD, although no studies have been performed that confirm this hypothesis. When you are receiving treatment for OCD and are considering the use of CBD and/or THC, always consult your doctor first. Click here to read more about safe use of cannabinoids.
- adfstichting.nl (angst-, dwang- en fobiestichting).
- Schindler, F., Anghelescu, F., Regen, M., Jockers-Scherubl, M. (2008). Improvement in refractory obsessive compulsive disorder with dronabinol. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 165(4): 536-537.
- Kinsey, S.G., O’Neal, S.T., Long, J.Z., Cravatt, B.F., Lichtman, A.H. (2011). Inhibition of endocannabinoid catabolic enzymes elicits anxiolytic-like effects in the marble burying assay. Biochem. Behav., 98(1): 21–27.