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Does cbd oil interfere with medicines prescribed for ocd

How do CBD and marijuana affect OCD?

Disclaimer: This post is an examination of research on marijuana and CBD usage among people with OCD and other mental health conditions. NOCD does not endorse any study or its results, or recommend the use of marijuana, CBD, or any psychoactive drug.

In 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 22.2 million people had used marijuana in the past month—7% of the population. This made it the most commonly used drug in the United States, and usage was trending upward. As states continue to battle over medical and recreational legalization, marijuana is becoming an increasingly typical part of life in the United States. So far, recreational use has been legalized in ten states and in Washington D.C. Medical use, restricted to those with certain conditions, is now partially or completely legal in 36 states.

These statistics vary drastically around the world, for many reasons. But in the US, at least, widespread and growing use points to a reality in which cannabis products ought to be part of any discussion about mental health. It also points to a need for these discussions to be based in evidence, not alarmism or anecdote.

The short-term effects of cannabis can interact with mental health conditions in complex ways—exacerbating anxiety or encouraging mania, for example. And the long-term effects of these substances are the subject of never-ending, often aggressive debate. A few years ago, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an expert committee to take a thorough look at huge amounts of research. Their fascinating 2017 report draws over 100 conclusions, among them:

  • “There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of schizophrenia or other psychoses”
  • “There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and… a small increased risk for the development of depressive disorders; increased incidence of suicidal ideation, attempts, completion; increased incidence of social anxiety disorder”
  • “There is limited evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for… improving symptoms of Tourette syndrome; improving anxiety symptoms in individuals with social anxiety disorder; improving symptoms of PTSD”

Another substance to worry about?

The term cannabinoids encompasses marijuana and other substances that work on the same receptors in our brain. In the past few years, a different kind of cannabis product has grown explosively in popularity. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most abundant chemical compound in marijuana. But when extracted from hemp—a cousin of the marijuana plant—CBD is isolated from THC, the compound in marijuana that causes a high and other psychoactive effects. However, many CBD products actually do contain some proportion of THC.

Subject to claims of effectiveness for all kinds of conditions, CBD is being marketed far more quickly than it can be researched. Due to its trendiness and a shaky but largely unenforced legal status, US sales grew from $108.1 million in 2014 to an estimated $813.2 million in 2019. By 2022 CBD sales are projected to approach $2 billion. Walgreens sells CBD products in nine states, CVS in eight. A staggering 14% of American adults say they use CBD, primarily for pain, anxiety, and insomnia.

People say all kinds of things about marijuana and CBD. They range from potentially true to probably nonsensical, and the longtime illegality of cannabinoid products has only made it harder to get any research done. Everyone is confused—especially those with mental health conditions, who might have the same desire to try these substances but a reduced ability to tolerate their effects.

On the other hand, countless people with or without psychiatric disorders say that marijuana and/or CBD help them feel better. Much research, though in its early form, supports the effectiveness of both medical marijuana and CBD for specific conditions. But, as stated in the National Academies report, there’s only limited evidence for a small number of conditions.

Very little or no research has been conducted on most mental health conditions in relation to the effects of cannabis products. Confusion is the status quo with both substances, although the fact that CBD typically has milder effects and isn’t exactly illegal in most places has allowed manufacturers to shape public opinion significantly.

People with mental health conditions, prone to distress, are often in search of relief. Whether illegally or legally, in moderation or excess, they’re more likely to use substances than the general population. Studies have found that 27-39% of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder met lifetime criteria for substance use disorder (involving any substance), and general usage rates are certainly higher. So, how do the most prevalent illicit drug and its nonintoxicating counterpart affect people with OCD?

Cannabis products and OCD

Although 2-3% of the population has OCD, it doesn’t get enough attention from researchers around the world. This is reflected in the fact that no new medication for OCD has been developed since 1997. Research gravitates toward conditions that are more prominent in our media, already receive better funding, and are at least a bit better understood—think depression and PTSD. There is always remarkable research emerging on OCD, but typically not on the same scale.

Unfortunately, this lack of research carries over to substance use as it relates to OCD. As Dr. Jamie Feusner, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and NOCD Chief Medical Officer, put it: “There is very little known about marijuana or CBD use in people with OCD, and no clinical studies of these substances in people with OCD have been published.”

A 2017 study at Washington State University showed that OCD are “was positively associated with cannabis misuse, but not frequency of cannabis use or quantity.” But, as with other studies along the same lines, the researchers didn’t look at the effects of marijuana on their subjects.

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Meanwhile, a 2017 clinical trial at the New York State Psychiatric Institute called “Effects of Marijuana on Symptoms of OCD,” has yet to post results. If results do emerge, they’ll come from only 14 participants—a great start, but hardly conclusive. That marijuana remains illegal and stigmatized in so many places limits sample sizes and therefore study progress, and researchers must do what they can with a limited patient population.

Researchers have conducted a few animal studies with cannabinoids, yielding mixed results. Two studies, from 2010 and 2013, linked CBD with a reduction in compulsive-like marble-burying behavior among mice. However, as Dr. Feusner notes, the observed mouse behaviors like marble-burying or pathological grooming aren’t necessarily complete models for OCD in humans.

A 2016 study sheds additional light on the possible neurobiology of these effects. When CB1 receptors—which are blocked indirectly by CBD—were deleted in specific neurons, mice were not able to shift from “goal-directed” to “habitual” behavior (possibly an analogue to compulsions in humans). Those researchers concluded that mice were switching between goal-directed and habitual behaviors based on activity in their CB1 receptors.

Clearly, research efforts have not been extensive enough to determine whether marijuana and CBD might be helpful or harmful for people with OCD. There’s still a lot of energy around this topic, though, and a few researchers plan to conduct larger-scale surveys of people with OCD—perhaps in preparation for research studies. (For more on these, stay tuned to the NOCD blog.)

For the time being, it’s advisable to stay away from psychoactive substances, particularly if one has a mental health condition. The reality is that we still know very little about what happens to the human brain on marijuana and CBD. And with psychiatric conditions already complicating things, there’s good reason to wait for further research to emerge.

If you’re age 18 or older and have been diagnosed with OCD, you can help make this research happen. Take this brief survey from McMaster University.

Disclaimer: This post is an examination of research on marijuana and CBD usage among people with OCD and other mental health conditions. NOCD does not endorse any study or its results, or recommend the use of marijuana, CBD, or any psychoactive drug.

If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, schedule a free call today with the NOCD clinical team to learn more about how a licensed therapist can help. ERP is most effective when the therapist conducting the treatment has experience with OCD and training in ERP. At NOCD, all therapists specialize in OCD and receive ERP-specific training.

Using CBD for OCD: Why (and How) It’s Effective

In recent years, scientific research has been able to confirm that the anxiety disorder Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) is more common than originally thought. According to recent reports by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1.2% of all US adults have been diagnosed with OCD – with over 80% of the affected suffering moderate to serious impairment. As cannabis and hemp are legalized in a growing number of states, many people are turning to CBD oil as a new treatment to ease OCD symptoms.

Our Top Choices: CBD for OCD

There are literally thousands of CBD brands out there. Knowing which brands provide the best quality and value for money is becoming increasingly difficult.

Since starting Healthy Minded, we’ve published over 20 in-depth articles related to anxiety disorders (including OCD) and spent hundreds of hours researching over 20 different brands of CBD.

We’ve had some bad experiences with some CBD brands (we’ll save those for another article). Our recommendations will make sure you can treat your OCD symptoms with the correct dosage for you, without needing to worry if the potency quoted on a label is accurate or not.

The products recommended on this page are, in our opinion, the highest quality CBD oils from the most reputable brands currently available.

  1. BEST OVERALL:Koi CBD – Broad Spectrum CBD Tincture
  2. BEST TASTING:Joy Organics Full Spectrum Organic CBD Tincture
  3. BEST VALUE:CBDfx – CBD + CBN Oil Calming Tincture
  4. BEST GUMMIES:Diamond CBD – Yum Yum Full-Spectrum CBD Relax Cubes

Before we get into the details of why we’ve chosen each of these products, let’s go over what we currently know about using CBD oil for OCD and how it might relieve symptoms.

What We Know About CBD for OCD Research

Independent studies, as well as anecdotal history, have provided clear evidence of cannabidiol’s ability to supplement the endocannabinoid system, and provide many medicinal and therapeutic qualities. Several of these qualities benefit OCD directly, such as

  • Anxiolytic CBD oil has already been used to treat depression in animal testing, even treating insomnia and stress in children with PTSD. The use of CBD is also shown to help relieve symptoms of other anxiety disorders, including panic attacks, general anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
  • Anti-Epileptic strains of medical cannabis high in CBD have successfully been used in treating conditions that cause convulsions, seizures and muscle spasms. Because of its neuroleptic effects, CBD is able to reduce the severity of obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors in children, adults and even pets.
  • Antipsychotic CBD is also shown to effectively reduce the symptoms of more chronic conditions such as schizophrenia, manic depression and bipolar disorder. Studies show that CBD medication is not a suitable replacement, but a viable addition to existing antipsychotic treatment.

In combination, CBD’s anxiolytic, anti-epileptic and antipsychotic qualities make it a good choice for treating a broad spectrum of anxiety symptoms and disorders. More importantly, supplementing with CBD may reduce risks associated with the neurological and genetic/hereditary aspects (discussed above) of OCD.

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CBD for OCD Thoughts: Does It Really Help?

The viability of cannabidiol in treating symptoms of OCD is more than speculation in the medical community. A 2015 neurotherapeutics study by Esther Blessing and Maria Steenkamp provides plenty of evidence that CBD for OCD is effective. Other supporting studies include Boshuisen et al (2002), Bystritsky et al (2001), Osuch et al (2001) and Schneider et al (1999).

Because they affect the limbic region of the brain, the symptoms from disorders like OCD, epilepsy, dementia and ADHD can all be improved with cannabidiol supplementation. CBD also increases production signaling while inhibiting the breakdown of anandamide. Anandamide is a natural antidepressant named after the Sanskrit for Divine Joy and is commonly known as the “happiness hormone” because of its ability to regulate mood as well as sensations of fear, stress and happiness.

The Entourage Effect

When used alongside other compounds within the cannabis or hemp plant, CBD may actually be more effective than when used alone.

Several studies have shown that various terpenes have anti-anxiety effects of their own. The interaction between CBD and these terpenes may provide a synergistic effect. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.

For this reason, many people prefer to choose broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum CBD oils and claim that these provide more relief than CBD isolate alone.

Which CBD Oil Should You Buy for OCD?

As CBD is a relatively new industry, picking a CBD oil for the symptoms of OCD can feel a bit like it’s the wild west out there.

We’ve put together this list of three CBD oils from companies that we trust and that we’re confident you’ll be satisfied with.

Broad Spectrum CBD Tincture – Koi Naturals

Our Number 1 Choice

A CBD-expert colleague sent multiple products to labs and found Koi to be the most reliable in its labeling.

Koi’s Hemp Extract Tinctures have been “formulated to provide a complete and restorative experience and to bring balance in your life.”

They contain less than 0.001% of THC (so you needn’t worry if THC has an unpleasant effect on you), and as it’s a broad spectrum product it contains naturally occurring terpenes and other phytocannabinoids. This is an ideal CBD oil for Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

There are four strengths available (250mg, 500mg, 1000mg, and 2000mg).

If you’re splashing out on 2000mg CBD you want to be sure you’re getting every milligram of CBD you’ve paid for – fortunately every one of Koi’s products has an independent Certificate of Analysis from CannaSafe.

Full Spectrum Organic CBD Tincture – Joy Organics

Best Tasting

If you’re like us, then you dread the taste of unflavored CBD oil under the tongue. Fortunately, Joy Organics knows how you feel and has produced the best tasting flavors we’ve tried.

And don’t just take our word for it. Their tinctures frequently come out top on nearly all of the top 10 lists we’ve seen online.

Fresh Lime, Tranquil Mint, Orange Bliss, and Summer Lemon flavors are all available in various strengths and sizes.

If you’re suffering from OCD and anxiety-related symptoms, these calming flavors immediately get you in the right frame of mind to reclaim some peace and calm.

Joy Organics has been around since 2018 and was one of the first CBD brands that we had contact with. They also provide copies of all their Certificates of Analysis (COAs) and third-party reports, so you’re always getting a high-quality product.

CBD + CBN Oil Calming Tincture – CBDfx

Best Value for Money

Not only great value for money, but CBDfx has also produced a propriety blend of CBN and terpenes intended to calm you down and keep you that way.

Each bottle contains CBN (aka “the relaxation cannabinoid”) which binds to your CB1 receptors and may produce a sedative-like effect.

Even with these added extras, CBDfx’s CBD oil tinctures are super affordable AND they tick all the boxes when it comes to Certificates of Analysis and Lab Reports. CBDfx also has frequent promos, so you can save even more money by checking their site regularly.

If you find that you need super-strength CBD oil (CBDfx has up to 6000MG), then you’ll struggle to find a better value product (on a cost per MG of CBD basis).

Another thing that stands out is their 60-day money-back guarantee (most other brands are only offering 30-days at the time of writing)

Yum Yum Full-Spectrum CBD Relax Cubes – Diamond CBD

Best Gummies

These full-spectrum ‘relax’ gummies, are perfectly portable and easy to consume in any stressful situation.

There’s a total of 1250 mgs of CBD in each tub, which means a well-balanced dose of 25 mg of CBD per cube.

They’re available in various fruit flavors, and we recommend you order the assorted tub on your first try. If you prefer one of the four flavors over the others, you can order a single flavored tub on your next purchase!

How to Choose the Right CBD Oil for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The CBD market has grown so fast that selecting high-quality, high-value products is challenging. When evaluating what’s best for you, consider the following:

Look for Hemp Sourced In the USA or Europe

Try to buy CBD sourced from hemp products grown in the USA or Europe. These tend to have higher quality, fewer contaminants, and are free of GMOs.

The Hemp grown in these areas has lower levels of THC. When you are taking CBD, you typically do not want THC: for someone feeling anxious, THC can make nervousness worse.

Isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum?

There are three different types of CBD to choose from, and you’ll need to understand the differences between them to decide which CBD is best for people with OCD.

  • CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD (and the most expensive too)! It contains no terpenes or any of the other compounds found in hemp. Use if you don’t want to worry about the effects of any other compounds in hemp.
  • Full Spectrum CBD does contain other compounds including flavonoids and terpenes – and of course THC. To be legal it must contain less than 0.3%THC. Use Full Spectrum if you want the full effect of CBD, and aren’t worried about the effects of THC.
  • Broad Spectrum CBD is Full-Spectrum but without the THC. Use to get the full benefit of hemp without the THC.
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The big difference between the three is terpenes (the aromatic compounds found throughout nature, that give cannabis its distinctive taste and smell).

Terpenes, such as limonene, myrcene, or pinene may provide their own effects and relief from anxiety disorders.

Some studies suggest that CBD is more effective when used alongside terpenes, in a phenomenon known as the ‘ entourage effect ’.

Strength & Potency

You can easily waste money on a CBD oil that isn’t potent enough to deal with your OCD symptoms if you don’t check the label carefully.

You’ll notice CBD oil is usually measured in milligrams (mg). The higher this number, the stronger (and more expensive) the CBD oil will be.

Most brands have CBD products with several levels of potency to choose from.

It’s recommended to start at lower potencies and to use a lower amount of CBD. You can work your way up to higher dosages later if you’re not achieving the desired effect.

Most people with OCD don’t care about the taste, while others can’t even bear to think about the taste of an unflavored CBD oil.

If you fall into the second camp, look for a brand with well-reviewed flavors.

Fruit flavors tend to be the most common, but we’ve even seen ‘lemongrass and ginger’ and ‘skittles’ flavors on some sites.

3rd Party Testing & Transparency

Any reputable CBD company will have third-party testing certificates for you to examine on their website.

Take some time to download and read these, and then check the lab that was used for the testing also has a good record (if they don’t have a Google Maps listing this is a BIG red flag!)

You can also examine the ingredients of the CBD oil, which should be listed out on both the label and test results in full.

Brand Reputation

If you’re new to CBD, how do you know if a brand has a good reputation? You can certainly look at reviews, but we all know how easily they can be faked. So how do we know who to trust?

For external reviews, a great place to look is YouTube. It’s much harder to fake a video than it is to write a phony review.

You can also take a look at their Facebook page, and search on other social media networks to look for unbiased opinions.

Customer Service & Returns

If you have OCD, the last thing you need is further anxiety if something goes wrong.

Check out their returns policy, and if you’re still concerned then shoot them an email with a few questions.

Any customer-focused CBD brand will answer you within a few hours, and this should put your mind at rest.

A Brief Look at OCD’s Root Causes and Effects

In a nutshell, OCD is a cycle of repetitive behavior, obsession, and compulsion. Obsessions are unwanted or intrusive thoughts or memories and images that trigger feelings of distress. The resulting compulsions are various repetitive behaviors an OCD individual engages in to control the obsessions and/or cope with feelings of distress.

Because OCD often occurs with other disorders, it has been challenging for the scientific community to study and diagnose. As of now, there are two main theories regarding its origins:

Neurological medical journals show that OCD patients respond to Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (or SSRIs) with some consistency, leading researchers to suggest that OCD is largely a neurological disorder. However, it’s widely accepted that there are likely other contributing factors.

Genetic OCD has an increased rate of occurrence among first-degree relatives, supporting the idea that there are genetic and hereditary aspects to the disorder. According to the NIMH, individuals with a diagnosed sibling or parent are at significantly higher risk of developing OCD.

The degree of impairment caused by obsessive-compulsive disorder varies by personality type. Obsessions can be irregular or constant, with the potential to seriously harm one’s productivity and reputation in the workplace, university or neighborhood. In either case, it isn’t hard to imagine how excessive compulsive behavior can disrupt daily routines and social interactions.

Natural Medicine is The Best Medicine

More specialized research will be needed to highlight CBD’s viability in tackling OCD specifically. However, there’s an abundance of mainstream and independent material (as well as anecdotal evidence from OCD patients themselves) showing CBD to be effective in treating a wide range of symptoms brought about by anxiety. Fortunately, obsessive-compulsive disorder is no exception, as it falls well within the spectrum of genetic and neurological anxiety disorders.

*The content in this article is for general information only and should not be seen as a substitute for professional advice. For more specific insight into your medical condition, speak with your healthcare provider about the treatment options that are available to you.

**These products have been independently chosen and reviewed. We may earn a small commission if you click to one of their websites and make a purchase. Please note that Healthy Minded continues to run (without a profit) from the small number of hand-picked affiliate programs we join.