Can CBD help with the symptoms of ocd?


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD refers to a physical condition that causes repetitive behavior and intrusive thoughts. It is seen to affect 2 to 3% of the world’s population. The standard treatment for OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. According to Simpson et al.2020, the only medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration has been approved to treat OCD called Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs).

Approximately one-third of the people do not experience a significant reduction in symptoms after receiving the treatments. SRIs usually require about six weeks to have clinically significant effects. Kayser et al. (2020) anecdotally claimed that CBD products help relieve their OCD symptoms. Researchers are currently examining the CBD potential in treating OCD. However, the research is still young. Some studies have found promising results.

This article will look into the latest research on the CBDs’ ability to help treat OCD and discuss the potential side effects.

Can CBD Help to Reduce the Symptoms of OCD?

Currently, CBD’s ability to reduce the symptoms of OCD is mostly theoretical and anecdotal. It is because of the limited research examining the effectiveness of CBD for people living with OCD. Crippa et al. (2011) described people with OCD who experienced improved symptoms after receiving treatment with CBD or other cannabinoids. But still, more other clinical trials are needed to assess CBDs’ effectiveness and safety.

Research conducted in 2020 examined the effects of medical cannabis on a group of 87 people living with OCD. Those who received cannabis with higher doses of CBD had a larger reduction in compulsive behavior. Another study involving 14 participants compared the effects of cannabis containing different concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD to a placebo. They found that smoking cannabis with primarily CBD or THC had a little acute impact on the OCD symptoms.

How Does CBD Help with OCD Symptoms?

CBD is among the more than 80 biologically active compounds found in the cannabis plant. THC is the primary psychoactive compound that has a highness effect. CBD ia non-psychoactive and has several effects on the body, relieving pain and potentially reducing anxiety and depression.

The cause of CBD is multifactorial, but there is some evidence that the body’s endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating fear, anxiety, and repetitive behaviors. The endocannabinoid system is a pathway of receptors in the body that regulates sleep, appetite, mood, and other processes in the body. Once the CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it causes some changes to these processes. Researchers are not sure how the CBD interacts with the system.

The Best Form of CBD for OCD

CBD comes in different forms oils, patches, tinctures, and gummies. There is no evidence to prove that any form is more effective than the other. The amount of CBD per serving is more vital than the form. Despite that CBD can be beneficial, Whittle et al. (2001) suggested that taking CBD and THC, and some other chemicals found in cannabis-like terpenes can enhance its benefits. The phenomenon is usually referred to as the outrange effect.

Can CBD be given to Children to Treat OCD or Anxiety?

The FDA has approved CBD as the only condition for treating three forms of epilepsy. CBD has not been widely researched in treating other forms in children. CBDs’ long-term effects and safety are still unknown. Until some more research comes out, it is good to avoid giving CBD to children. Another problem that may arise from giving CBD to children is their potential to be mislabeled. A certain study carried out research and found that 20% of the products sold online were tested and contained detectable levels of psychoactive THC.

How Much Should I Take to Ease the Symptoms of OCD?

It is good to start with a small dose of CBD and work overtime once you understand how your body responds to it. Some people begin with a dose of about 40 mg each day.

Any Side Effects of Taking CBD for OCD?

CBD is generally well-tolerated, but it may cause a few side effects like fatigue, diarrhea, change in appetite, dry mouth, and drowsiness.

Does CBD Interact with Other Medications When Taken For OCD?

Consult your doctor before taking CBD because it can interact with several medications. Once the medication says that you should avoid grapefruits, ensure you talk to your doctor before taking CBD. Both CBD and grapefruit have the potential to inhibit an enzyme known as CYP3A4 that is responsible for breaking down different types of medication. Once the enzyme is inhibited, it slows down the rate of medication hence strengthening its effects and side effects. Drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, and some other mood disorders can interact with CBD or grapefruit.

Can CBD Help in Treating Anxiety

Skelley et al. (2020) report published in a journal (neurotherapeutics) showed that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders. The authors reported that the CBD had previously shown potential in treating anxiety and relieving effects in animal research, and the results were amazing. In many studies, low doses of CBD improved some anxiety symptoms as high doses had almost no effects. CBD acts in the brain in a way that can explain why this happens. CBD can act the same way as the surrounding molecules that connect to the receptor that turn up their signaling in low doses. But in many dose activities, this receptor site may produce the opposite effects.

CBD can also benefit people with other forms of anxiety-like as social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic disorder, and insomnia. Multiple recent studies have shown that CBD may help people with post-traumatic stress like having nightmares and replaying negative memories. The studies have looked at CBD as a standalone treatment and a supplement to traditional treatments such as medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Bottom line

Research investigating the ability of CBD to treat OCD is still in its early stages. But some studies have found evidence that CBD can help in managing symptoms. Many individuals anecdotally report that they find it helpful. Generally, CBD is safe and rarely causes dangerous side effects. But can interact with many different medications. Before using CBD, talk to a doctor to start a holistic treatment plan.


Crippa, J. A. S., Derenusson, G. N., Ferrari, T. B., Wichert-Ana, L., Duran, F. L., Martin-Santos, R., … & Hallak, J. E. C. (2011). Neural Basis Of Anxiolytic Effects Of Cannabidiol (CBD) In Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder: A Preliminary Report. Journal Of Psychopharmacology, 25(1), 121-130.

Kayser, R. R., Haney, M., Raskin, M., Arout, C., & Simpson, H. B. (2020). Acute Effects Of Cannabinoids On Symptoms Of Obsessive‐Compulsive Disorder: A Human Laboratory Study. Depression And Anxiety, 37(8), 801-811.

Simpson, H. B., Foa, E. B., Liebowitz, M. R., Huppert, J. D., Cahill, S., Maher, M. J., … & Campeas, R. (2013). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Vs. Risperidone For Augmenting Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors In Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(11), 1190-1199.

Skelley, J. W., Deas, C. M., Curren, Z., & Ennis, J. (2020). Use Of Cannabidiol In Anxiety And Anxiety-Related Disorders. Journal Of The American Pharmacists Association, 60(1), 253-261.

Whittle, B. A., Guy, G. W., & Robson, P. (2001). Prospects For New Cannabis-Based Prescription Medicines. Journal Of Cannabis Therapeutics, 1(3-4), 183-205.

Anastasia Filipenko