Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Washington State University Department of Psychology Pullman, WA, 99164-4820

Short-Term Reduction in OCD Symptoms with Cannabis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Washington State University Department of Psychology Pullman, WA, 99164-4820

Dr. Cuttler

Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Washington State University
Department of Psychology
Pullman, WA, 99164-4820 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: While many studies have examined the acute effects of cannabis on other mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and psychosis there is almost no research on acute effects of cannabis on symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans.  Nevertheless, we have previously found that acute cannabis intoxication is associated with reductions in anxiety as well as with reductions in the intrusive thoughts characteristic of PTSD. Further previous research using a rodent model of compulsive behavior has provided pre-clinical evidence that cannabidiol (CBD) – which is the second most common constituent in the cannabis plant – reduces compulsive behavior.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We found that on average ratings of the severity of intrusions were reduced by 49%, ratings of compulsions were reduced by 60%, and anxiety ratings were reduced by 52% from before to after inhaling cannabis. With respect to predictors of these changes we found that higher concentrations of CBD were associated with larger reductions in compulsions specifically which is consistent with previous animal studies. Also, higher doses of cannabis were also associated with larger reductions in compulsions. Finally, we found that as people continued to use cannabis over time the cannabis-related reductions in intrusions became somewhat smaller suggesting people may start to develop tolerance to the acute effects of cannabis on intrusions. In contrast, it appeared that the cannabis-related reductions in compulsions and anxiety remained pretty constant over time.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These findings of roughly 50% reductions in symptoms of OCD are encouraging and the results overall indicate that cannabis may have beneficial short-term, but not long-term, effects on symptoms of OCD. The finding that use of cannabis with higher concentrations of CBD were associated with larger reductions in compulsion severity ratings is particularly encouraging given that CBD is not associated with the intoxicating effects of cannabis

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We really need larger size clinical trials that examine the acute effects of cannabis on symptoms of OCD in a longitudinal manner. However, cannabis is a schedule I class drug and because of this classification there are numerous restrictions  imposed on researchers that makes it difficult to study the acute effects of the drug. We were fortunate to be able to bypass these restrictions with the generous support of Strainprint who provided these naturalistic observational data for us to analyze. In fact, this is the 5th paper examining the acute effects of cannabis on various mental health conditions and types of pain that we have published using anonymous data generously provided by Strainprint. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: It is important to note that this is a self-selected sample of cannabis users self-reporting having OCD and we couldn’t verify their diagnoses. There was also significant variability in the results suggesting the not everyone will find cannabis equally beneficial in reducing their symptoms of OCD. Moreover, we were not able to obtain a placebo control group so some of the reductions in symptoms are likely a function of expectancy effects, that is people’s expectations of the effects of cannabis on these symptoms. Indeed, shortly before our paper was published a rather small clinical trial was published that revealed that the reductions in OCD symptoms were no larger after cannabis use than placebo use.     

Citation: 

Dakota Mauzay, Emily M. LaFrance, Carrie Cuttler. Acute Effects of Cannabis on Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2020; DOI: 1016/j.jad.2020.09.124

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Last Modified: Oct 21, 2020 @ 2:08 am

 

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