CBD May Reduce Intrusive Thoughts, Anxiety for Patients With OCD
Carrie Cuttler, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University, on recent findings that show CBD may reduce intrusive thoughts and anxiety for patients with OCD.
Contemporary Clinic® interviewed Carrie Cuttler, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University, on a recent study she co-authored that was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders on the use of cannabis in treating symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Alana Hippensteele: What are the implications of your research on the use of THC, CBD, and other compounds in cannabis, such as CBG or CBN, as potential treatments for OCD? Are there any potential benefits to one compound over another?
Carrie Cutler: Yeah. So, we examined whether THC, CBD, or the interaction between THC and CBD might predict the size of the symptom reductions.
We found that as CBD increased, so did the size of the reduction in compulsions. That’s actually consistent with a couple of previous animal studies that showed that CBD reduced compulsive behavior in rodents.
In contrast, THC and interactions between THC and CBD really did not predict the size of symptom reductions people reported.
So, these findings suggest that cannabis with higher concentrations of CBD may be more beneficial for managing compulsions. Well, inhaling really any cannabis product might produce perceived reductions in intrusions and anxiety.
Acute effects of cannabinoids on symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder: A human laboratory study
Background: Preclinical data implicate the endocannabinoid system in the pathology underlying obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), while survey data have linked OCD symptoms to increased cannabis use. Cannabis products are increasingly marketed as treatments for anxiety and other OCD-related symptoms. Yet, few studies have tested the acute effects of cannabis on psychiatric symptoms in humans.
Methods: We recruited 14 adults with OCD and prior experience using cannabis to enter a randomized, placebo-controlled, human laboratory study to compare the effects on OCD symptoms of cannabis containing varying concentrations of Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) on OCD symptoms to placebo. We used a within-subjects design to increase statistical power. Across three laboratory sessions, participants smoked three cannabis varietals in random order: placebo (0% THC/0% CBD); THC (7.0% THC/0.18% CBD); and CBD (0.4% THC/10.4% CBD). We analyzed acute changes in OCD symptoms, state anxiety, cardiovascular measures, and drug-related effects (e.g., euphoria) as a function of varietal.
Results: Twelve participants completed the study. THC increased heart rate, blood pressure, and intoxication compared with CBD and placebo. Self-reported OCD symptoms and anxiety decreased over time in all three conditions. Although OCD symptoms did not vary as a function of cannabis varietal, state anxiety was significantly lower immediately after placebo administration relative to both THC and CBD.
Conclusions: This is the first placebo-controlled investigation of cannabis in adults with OCD. The data suggest that smoked cannabis, whether containing primarily THC or CBD, has little acute impact on OCD symptoms and yields smaller reductions in anxiety compared to placebo.
Keywords: THC; anxiety; cannabidiol; cannabinoids; cannabis; marijuana; obsessive-compulsive disorder.