Acute Effects of Cannabis on Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsiv
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Highlights -
• Inhaled cannabis reduced the severity of compulsions by 60% and intrusions by 49%
• Higher levels of CBD and higher doses predicted larger reductions in compulsions
• Tolerance to the effects of cannabis on intrusions may develop over time
• Baseline symptom severity remained static over time suggesting no long-term benefit. People with OCD, report that the severity of their symptoms was reduced by about half within four hours of smoking cannabis

The researchers analyzed data who self-identified as having OCD, a condition characterized by intrusive, persistent thoughts and repetitive behaviors such as compulsively checking if a door is locked. After smoking cannabis, users with OCD reported it reduced their compulsions by 60%, intrusions, or unwanted thoughts, by 49% & anxiety by 52%.

The study also found that higher doses and cannabis with higher concentrations of CBD, or cannabidiol, were associated with larger reductions in compulsions. The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term
effetcs on OCD.

The WSU study drew from data of more than 1,800 cannabis sessions that 87 individuals logged into the Strainprint app over 31 months. The long time period allowed the researchers to assess whether users developed tolerance to cannabis, but those effects were mixed. As people continued to use cannabis, the associated reductions in intrusions became slightly smaller suggesting they were building tolerance, but the relationship between cannabis and reductions in compulsions and anxiety remained fairly constant.

Traditional treatments for OCD include exposure and response prevention therapy where people's irrational thoughts around their behaviors are directly challenged, and prescribing antidepressants called serotonin re-uptake inhibitors to reduce symptoms. While these treatments have positive effects for many patients, they do not cure the disorder nor do they work well for every person with OCD.

In a small clinical trial with 12 participants that revealed that there were reductions in OCD symptoms after cannabis use, but these were not much larger than the reductions associated with the placebo. Researchers noted an "expectancy effect" may play a role in the results, meaning when people expect to feel better from something they generally do. The data was also from a self-selected sample of cannabis users, and there was variability in the results which means that not everyone experienced the same reductions in symptoms after using cannabis.

However, this analysis of user-provided information via the Strainprint app was especially valuable because it provides a large data set and the participants were using market cannabis in their home environment, as opposed to federally grown cannabis in a lab which may affect their responses. This study points out that further research, particularly clinical trials on the cannabis constituent CBD, may reveal a therapeutic potential for people with OCD.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032720328202?via=ihub
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