CBD For OCD. Is It Effective

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Written by Casandra Jones on 11/01/2022.
Data Last Updated: 05/31/2024.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Abraham Benavides Author avatar Medically reviewed by Dr. Abraham Benavides Dr. Abraham Benavides is a worldwide cannabis consultant, alum, and full-tuition merit scholar of the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS ’19). He also studied Biology and Business Management and Administration at Boston University. In 2016, Abe started the...

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) used to be considered a form of anxiety. While OCD often involves anxious features, it is a separate diagnosis nowadays. Patients suffering from this condition are plagued by reoccurring  thoughts (obsessions), and try to cope by doing repetitive actions (compulsions).

CBD For OCD. Is it effective?

This type of disorder may be difficult to treat, requires patience and effort, and can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. OCD patients frequently experience social maladjustment, which may interfere or even prevent them from working, socializing, or building relationships.

Classical approach of treating OCD

Classical approach of treating OCD

There are numerous methods to treating OCD. The most common is prescription antidepressant treatment. It is carried out in accordance with a well-defined protocol that is widely accepted around the world: they begin with the first medication, and if it is ineffective at maximum doses for several weeks, then the second medication is prescribed, and its effectiveness is monitored for a specific time, and so on until the desired outcome is obtained.

Patients will commonly start a prescription from their primary care doctor while they seek out help from a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy, including exposure therapy, are commonly effective for OCD. There are already several well-established, safe, and existing treatment options for OCD. CBD and cannabis are not yet FDA-approved for OCD although there is early promising evidence.

Can CBD oil treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Can CBD oil treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Yes, according to preclinical and small studies. CBD has been shown to improve the condition of OCD patients, such as in this small 2021 study. CBD and cannabis may potentially alleviate repetitive behaviors, intrusions, tension and anxiety while also being beneficial to the nervous system. 

Another research question is how long do the effects last? There are currently no clear studies to show the long-term advantages of CBD, whether in oil or another form, for patients with OCD. Unfortunately, the 2021 study mentioned above suggested no long-term benefit and that tolerance may develop over time. However, cannabis may still provide some short-term benefits.

How exactly can CBD help?

How exactly can CBD help?

Let’s take a look at how CBD specifically affects people with OCD. The following are the main effects:

  1.   Cannabinoids ease OCD symptoms by activating CB1 receptors (a major component affecting behavioral habits and emotions).
  2.   CBD acts in the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain to reduce anxiety.
  3.   Cannabis and CBD, particularly high CBD, may reduce fear, intrusions, and obsessive thoughts.

As we can see, CBD components have tremendous potential for treating OCD. At this time, however, the benefits appear to be short-term.

Latest news and research

Latest news and research

An interesting study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. It states that cannabis has a short-term positive effect on symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), reducing their severity in half. However, there is a little catch – over time, tolerance to the effects of medical marijuana increases, and the impact itself fades. According to this study, CBD only temporarily reduces some symptoms of OCD.

Another study published in 2015 discusses the potential benefits of CBD for anxiety disorders including OCD. It talks about CBD alleviating anxiety and calming the nervous system in preclinical (mice) trials. It also mentions the possible basis of long-term impacts on anxiety conditions.


As a result, CBD has enormous potential as a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Science has demonstrated its transient efficacy, and it’s feasible for future research to focus on the long-term effects of CBD oils or other forms on OCD patients.

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