OCD – Obsessive-compulsive disorder

CBD for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Studies
Written by Stefan K.


Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) often turn the lives of those affected into a sequence of actions and thoughts which they find themselves forced to repeat over and over again. For OCD patients, this can result in significant difficulties in their everyday lives.

Experts categorise obsessive-compulsive disorders as a kind of anxiety disorder. The depressive illnesses that can occur in both clinical pictures constitute something of a unifying theme in these conditions. More than 50% of all people affected by an obsessive-compulsive disorder suffer from a phase of serious depression over the course of their lives.

In cases of OCD, CBD is considered a potential medication by experts such as psychologists. Among other things, studies show that this cannabinoid reduces the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorders. Some sufferers even report the complete cessation of their “tics”. CBD is a hemp product which, unlike THC, is not psychoactive, does not cause intoxication and is not addictive. 

The causes of OCD

Psychologists recognise two basic symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorders: compulsive actions and obsessive thoughts. The former are visually clearly perceptible and are therefore quickly recognised by those in the social environment of people who are affected. These usually include a pronounced compulsion to wash and/or clean, the compulsive checking of doors or kitchen stoves, among other things, the repeated and uncontrolled compulsive switching on and off of light switches, collecting of certain objects to an unhealthy level or even the permanent arranging of objects according to certain unchanging criteria.

Obsessive thoughts are often less easily perceived by others. These include, for example, concentrating on certain sequences of numbers or repeating particular sentences. These may be spoken out loud, but they are also often “only” constantly repeated internally. Obsessive thoughts also often include religious or sexual content. Kleptomania and addictions to gambling or shopping are also symptomatic.


Modern psychiatry assumes that there are several causative factors when it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorders. According to experts, drastic life events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or sexual abuse, and problems dealing with feelings in general can trigger obsessive-compulsive disorders. In addition, problematic interactions with others can also lead to changes in certain brain regions. In cases of OCD, CBD can be especially helpful, as it has a positive effect on the regulation of messenger substances in the brain. Dopamine is thought to play a particularly important role here.

How OCD medication works

Obsessive-compulsive disorders are usually diagnosed over the course of detailed discussions between the person affected and doctors, psychologists and psychotherapists. Standardised questionnaires are often used for this purpose. Cognitive behavioural therapies and medication are often used to get the condition under control. Behavioural therapy can help people to consciously overcome their compulsions and fears.

This generally takes a lot of time and patience. Medication-based treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorders often use the same medicines as those which are used to treat depression. An example of such medication would be that of serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (possible side effects: nausea, nervousness, sleep disorders).  Thus the concentration of the messenger chemical serotonin is increased in the brain by means of medication.

In the case of obsessive-compulsive disorders, CBD can achieve the same effect. Firstly, it can act against depression by improving people’s mood, and secondly, it can regulate the release of messenger substances such as serotonin via the ECS nervous system (endocannabinoid system), doing so without producing side effects, according to the latest research.

CBD and OCD – How can cannabidiol help?

The regulation of messenger substances in the human body is a major argument in favour of the use of CBD in treating obsessive-compulsive disorders. According to a study[1] from the University of Minnesota, CBD was used to cure one patient of an OCD condition which compelled him to constantly pull out his own hair, a disorder known as trichotillomania.

The messenger chemical serotonin is a neurotransmitter which controls “feelings of happiness” and thus contributes to people’s moods. If a disturbance of the hormonal balance occurs, this can lead to either severe mood swings, obsessive-compulsive disorders or long-term depression. CBD can help those with OCD by binding to the serotonin receptor. This regulates production and serotonin levels are brought back up to a normal level again.


CBD has a significant effect, reducing the level of anxiety in those with anxiety disorders. This property means that, in cases of OCD, CBD can most certainly help in reducing fears associated with concerns over the next occurrence of a tic or similar. It is often this fear that triggers an OCD in the first place.

Those affected by OCD can also suffer from symptoms other than those which are “normal”. These often include depression, as well as sleep disorders and eating disorders. When it comes to OCDs, CBD can also help to address these sequelae (secondary diseases). CBD has a calming effect and can therefore be used effectively against sleep disorders. Under certain circumstances CBD has a regulatory effect on the appetite.

Obsessive-compulsive disorders can also result in physical symptoms. These include problems such as skin conditions, diseases of the musculoskeletal system, and even hair loss. Pain can occur in the musculoskeletal system as a result of OCD, and can be relieved by taking CBD oil. Skin conditions can lead to the stressful symptom of itchiness.  CBD, taken in the form of CBD e-liquid (e-cigarettes) for example, can relax the body to such an extent that you no longer feel the need to scratch yourself and so you stop making the condition worse.

By vaping CBD to treat OCD, i.e. ingesting CBD in the form of the liquid used in e-cigarettes, those affected may experience the relief of symptoms within just three minutes. When using CBD oil to treat OCD, the CBD can be absorbed via the oral mucosa or via the stomach. The time it takes until one notices a major effect is usually longer than in the case of vaping.


  • The calming effect of CBD in cases of OCD can help to alleviate the symptoms of the disease, i.e. the most extreme compulsive phases can be overcome more easily with a large enough dose of CBD.
  • By regulating the levels of messenger chemicals such as serotonin, CBD can be used to intervene and regulate obsessive-compulsive disorders.
  • The sequelae of OCD, such as depression and sleeping or eating disorders, can be treated by taking CBD oil or CBD e-liqiuids.

[1] – 22.10.2019

Further Studies

Taking products containing cannabinoids may result in interactions with various medications. If you are already taking medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.