For the past many years experts have tried to manage OCD with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Recently however, there is an increase in the number of researchers that are studying the impact of cannabis in soothing some symptoms related to OCD.
According to the statistics of ADAA, OCD impacts about 2.2 million adults in the US population. Equally common among men and women, this condition has an average onset age of 19 years. However, about 25% of cases are also diagnosed in children up to 14 year old.
Before we can cross-examine the effectiveness of cannabis for treating symptoms of OCD, it is important to understand the dynamics of the condition first.
Here is what’s it like to have OCD:
What is OCD?
OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a form of anxiety that causes extreme fixations and temptations in people. It results in compulsions that are powerful enough to interfere with the daily lives of its victims.
The impulses created by OCD are often beyond rational reasoning or understanding on the surface for those around the patients. But for the patients the impulses can be irresistibly compelling, making them helpless at the hands of their intrusive thoughts.
This forces them to repeat their actions unwillingly. Most of the time, these actions are triggered by confusions, insecurities or fears. Excessive double checking of things, spending a lot of time washing and cleaning or continually rearranging things are all some examples of OCD behaviors.
The severity of the symptoms depends largely upon the stage that patients currently stand at. Milder symptoms often go unnoticed by family or friends. In contrast, severe symptoms can negatively impact social relationships and result in a lot of mental stress for the patients.
How Cannabis helps to deal with OCD
Cannabis and its derivatives are gaining renewed spotlight in the medical world for their therapeutic properties. With hemp becoming legal throughout the United States, more and more studies are now dedicated to gauge its effectiveness for a number of ailments. Although still restricted, the same is true for its sanctioned counterpart marijuana in states where it is considered legal.
When it comes to judging its effectiveness for OCD, it is important to note that most researchers agree on the fact that OCD is caused by inflammations in certain parts of the brain.
According to Dr. Jeffery Meyer head of the Neurochemical Imaging Program, “Our research showed a strong relationship between brain inflammation and OCD, particularly in the parts of the brain known to function differently in OCD. This finding represents one of the biggest breakthroughs in understanding the biology of OCD, and may lead to the development of new treatments,”
Role of Cannabis in soothing brain inflammation
CBD, a derivative of cannabis has been shown to work for reducing inflammation, oxygen buildup and brain cell decline in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. This ability of the drug has helped it combat diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s.
Role of Cannabis in breaking impulsive thoughts
Studies conducted by the University of Washington have found that cannabis may have a positive impact on OCD patients. They researchers studied around 87 patients and tracked the impact on their OCD symptoms after about 1,810 cannabis use sessions.
At the end of the study it was found that about 60% patients reported a reduction in their compulsions. In additions, about 49% experienced a reduction in their intrusions. Moreover, almost 52% were able to control their anxiety after inhaling cannabis.
Role of Cannabis in breaking anxiety cycles
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the body plays a very vital role in regulating all other physiological processes and maintaining a state of homeostasis in the body. Cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) produced by the body are very similar in chemical structure to the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant (phytocannabinoids).
This allows the components of cannabis to react efficiently with the ECS and regulate any disturbances their in.
People with OCD experience continual anxiety that puts their bodies under huge stress. This long-term exposure to stress leads to other physiological problems like depression, weight gain and panic attacks.
When cannabis derivatives like CBD and THC enter the body, the ECS starts increasing the levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a feel good hormone that relaxes the mind and triggers feelings of pleasure in users. In addition to this, it controls the expression of cortisol – a hormone that primarily increases stress.
It is important to note here that while higher concentrations of CBD do not increase anxiety, higher THC levels may be counter-productive. This is because THC is a psychoactive component of cannabis that causes addiction and dependence. Heavy doses of THC can