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OCD Patients Report Limited and Short-Term Symptom Relief After Cannabis Use

A paper recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders described the acute effects of cannabis on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. Though limited by design, the study presents evidence that cannabis may provide patients with some short-term relief.

The paper’s authors, Mauzay, LaFrance, and Cuttler, used a smartphone app to track 87 individuals who self-identified as having OCD. They monitored symptom severity over the course of 31 months, which included 1,810 individual cannabis use sessions. The researchers, who are affiliated with Washington State University, also monitored the effects of different cannabis cultivars and doses.

The paper reports that patients experienced reductions in several symptoms compared to baseline: compulsions (60%), anxiety (52%), and intrusions (49%). Of critical importance is that patients reported more significant reductions in compulsions after inhaling cannabis with higher concentrations of CBD. Higher doses were also associated with reductions in compulsions. However, the paper also found that baseline symptom severity remained static over the course of the study and that “later cannabis use sessions were associated with smaller reductions in intrusions.”

In short, the study indicates that inhaled cannabis may have some short-term benefits for OCD patients struggling with symptoms, but it appears as though individuals develop a tolerance relatively quickly, reducing the treatments’ ability to minimize the severity of intrusive symptoms.

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