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Cannabis could have short-term benefits for OCD symptoms, study finds

Experts have highlighted another way that cannabis can benefit consumers’ well-being

Photo (c) krisanapong detraphiphat - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from Washington State University has found that cannabis can be an effective way for consumers struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) to manage their symptoms. 

“We’re trying to build knowledge about the relationship of cannabis use and OCD because it’s an area that is really understudied,” said researcher Dakota Mauzay. 

For the study, the researchers analyzed results from an app called Strainprint, which is a resource for consumers who use marijuana for medical purposes that allows users to track which strains of the drug are most effective in treating their symptoms. This study included nearly three years’ worth of responses from 87 participants with OCD. 

In looking at three primary symptoms associated with OCD -- anxiety, compulsions, and unwanted thoughts -- the researchers learned that cannabis was effective in greatly reducing the intensity of these feelings in the short-term. Using cannabis reduced all three symptoms by at least 50 percent. 

Reduced compulsions

The study revealed that cannabis was the most effective at reducing compulsions, as participants were 60 percent less likely to perform repetitive actions after using the substance. Compulsions were reduced even further when the dose of cannabis contained higher concentrations of CBD. 

When looking at the longevity of these mental health benefits, the researchers learned that intrusive thoughts were the hardest to keep at bay over the long-term. While this could mean that the participants built up a tolerance to the drug over the course of the study, the researchers hope to do more work in this area to better understand how cannabis can be effective in helping those with anxiety disorders. 

“The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said researcher Carrie Cuttler. “To me, the CBD findings are really promising because it is not intoxicating. This is an area of research that would really benefit from clinical trials looking at changes in compulsions, intrusions, and anxiety with pure CBD.”

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