There is research that’s being done to show how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) can play an important role in affecting our fear, anxiety, and repetitive behaviours. The question now becomes; does it have any effect on obsessive-compulsive disorder? Could cannabis-based products be the solution many people with OCD are looking for? These types of questions are frequently asked at Apollo and this article hopes to explore the relationship between weed and OCD.
An article that was published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, scientists from the Weil Cornell Medical College and Columbia University examined the possibility of cannabis resolving some, if not all, the symptoms of OCD. Their report provided an overview of the complex function of the ECS. They examined the different evidence gathered that imply ECS might play a significant role when it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What is OCD?
For those who aren’t aware, OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by intrusive obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviours. These behaviours consume a significant amount of time, causing distress, and may even impair some daily functions. People with OCD also experience anxiety which only feeds into the cycle of obsession and compulsive behaviour.
Currently, there are treatments to help people with OCD, though it only serves to address the symptoms and not the underlying cause of OCD. The process usually involves patients undergoing combination therapy and medications to help deal with the symptoms of OCD.
Treatment may take up to six months before effects can be seen. The medication for OCD, primarily antidepressants, may also have potential side effects like insomnia, dizziness, headaches, distorted vision, and even suicidal thoughts. This results in the demand for a more novel treatment approach in combating OCD.
Enter ECS. Researchers believe that in the same area of the brain that’s responsible for OCD, CB1 cannabinoid receptors are also found. CB1R is one of the major receptors of the ECS. And so they believe that the ECS may affect the onset of OCD symptoms.
Medical Cannabis Treatment for OCD
The overlap in the neural circuitry of OCD and ECS, a lot of studies, both using animal and human models, have been conducted to evaluate the effects of cannabinoids and how it modulates the endocannabinoid system to suppress repetitive behaviour in people with OCD.
In their review of other relevant animal studies, the researchers concluded that CB1R agonists may bring anti-anxiety effects depending on the dosage given, as well as the metabolic enzymes of the ECS. Regulating the metabolic enzymes of the ECS is also linked to a decreased responsiveness to fears and stress. The researchers also found out that there is a connection between habit learning and repetitive behaviour by increasing CB1R activity.
Using data from clinical studies that use human models, the researchers found evidence that CBR1 agonists and cannabidiol have been proven to help people with anxiety in healthy adults. For people with Tourette syndrome, ingesting cannabinoids saw a decrease in the urge for compulsive behaviour and motor tics.
Can Medical Marijuana Be Used For OCD?
We can cite three case studies that really dealt with the effects of marijuana on OCD symptoms.
The first case is about a 38-year-old woman who has a diagnosis of OCD and major depression. She was administered Dronabinol after failing to respond to all other means of treatment. She has also reported that smoking cannabis in the past has helped with the symptoms of her disorder. After 10 days of first consuming Dronabinol, the women’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale dropped from a moderate 20 to a mild 10.
The second case was about a 36-year-old man who was hospitalized due to a worsening case of schizophrenia and OCD. He also failed to respond to other means of treatment for his disorder. He was given Dronabinol together with other antipsychotic medications. In 2 weeks, the man’s YBOCS score also dropped from 25 to 15.
The final case is about a 24-year-old man with obsessive-compulsive behaviour following a stroke. Like the first two, he failed to respond positively to all other treatment procedures. He was given Dronabinol. His score fell from 39 to 10 in just two weeks which allowed him to start a new therapy course aimed at further improving his condition.
This is all very encouraging research. It shows the dedication among scientists in curing disorders that have caused great suffering and struggle for people’s lives.
Do you have OCD and wonder if it’s an option for you? Cannabis may help. Contact us today to learn more.