Medical Research News

Cannabis Proven Effective For OCD?

Written by Mell Green

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that has no official cure. Can those with OCD find relief from their symptoms with cannabis? First, we must understand OCD.

WebMD describes this condition as “an anxiety disorder in which a person has repeated behaviors or rituals.” These behaviors involve compulsions like an obsession with germs, excessive bathing, or continually checking whether a door is closed or locked. The condition is essentially a never-ending plague on one’s thoughts that can severely disrupt their day to day — and according to mainstream medicine, one that can’t be cured.

OCD may be caused by a chemical imbalance involving the neurotransmitter serotonin. [1] Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically used to mitigate OCD and its related symptoms and work to help normalize the levels of serotonin in the brain. However, while drugs such as Lexapro® and Paxil® may prove effective in some patients, many of them come with dangerous side effects — one being a disorder called akathisia, which can cause restlessness and distress. In fact, it was revealed that patients using GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil were nearly seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

Other treatments have been introduced, including the use of medication to reduce levels of glutamate — which research claims is a contributing factor of OCD when excessively produced in the brain [2] — and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Nevertheless, the results are inconclusive.

Thankfully, natural alternatives are on the rise to keep conditions like OCD under control — one of the most prominent being cannabidiol (CBD). This natural chemical compound found in Cannabis sativa may address OCD by way of interacting with CB (cannabinoid) receptors found in our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological system that helps regulate balance or homeostasis in the human body. These receptors help normalize important bodily functions such as appetite, mood, memory, and pain when stimulated. CBD may help anesthetize OCD and its related debilitating symptoms. [3]

Certainly, this is an exciting discovery, and while more research needs to be done, CBD has been revolutionizing the way we view this extraordinary plant as medicine. If you’re still unsure about trying CBD, we recommend that you consult with your primary health care provider to find what’s best for you, or with a medical professional who understands the ECS and how specific products might work in controlling OCD.


  1. Baumgarten HG, Grozdanovic Z. Role of serotonin in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 1998;(35):13-20.
  2. Times Cited = 92 (Semantic Scholar), Journal Impact Factor = 7.233
  3. Pittenger, Christopher, et al. “Glutamate Abnormalities in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Neurobiology, Pathophysiology, and Treatment.” Pharmacology & Therapeutics, vol. 132, no. 3, 2011, pp. 314–332, doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2011.09.006. Times Cited = 174 (ResearchGate), Journal Impact Factor = 11.127
  4. Blessing, Esther M., et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics, vol. 12, no. 4, Apr. 2015, pp. 825–836., doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1. Times Cited = 38 (PubMed), Journal Impact Factor = 5.719

About the author

Mell Green

Mell is a published writer and advocate of the legal cannabis movement who’s dedicated to all things wellness. You can catch her work in a number of publications including Plant People,, and the Weed Blog. She’s a proud volunteer of the National Hemp Association and enjoys consuming cannabis medicinally and recreationally.

Leave a Comment