Using CBD for OCD: Why (and How) It’s Effective
In recent years, scientific research has been able to confirm that the anxiety disorder Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) is more common than originally thought. According to recent reports by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1.2% of all US adults have been diagnosed with OCD – with over 80% of the affected suffering moderate to serious impairment. As cannabis and hemp are legalized in a growing number of states, many people are turning to CBD oil as a new treatment to ease OCD symptoms.
Our Top Choices: CBD for OCD
There are literally thousands of CBD brands out there. Knowing which brands provide the best quality and value for money is becoming increasingly difficult.
Since starting Healthy Minded, we’ve published over 20 in-depth articles related to anxiety disorders (including OCD) and spent hundreds of hours researching over 20 different brands of CBD.
We’ve had some bad experiences with some CBD brands (we’ll save those for another article). Our recommendations will make sure you can treat your OCD symptoms with the correct dosage for you, without needing to worry if the potency quoted on a label is accurate or not.
The products recommended on this page are, in our opinion, the highest quality CBD oils from the most reputable brands currently available.
- BEST OVERALL:Koi CBD – Broad Spectrum CBD Tincture
- BEST TASTING:Joy Organics Full Spectrum Organic CBD Tincture
- BEST VALUE:CBDfx – CBD + CBN Oil Calming Tincture
- BEST GUMMIES:Diamond CBD – Yum Yum Full-Spectrum CBD Relax Cubes
Before we get into the details of why we’ve chosen each of these products, let’s go over what we currently know about using CBD oil for OCD and how it might relieve symptoms.
What We Know About CBD for OCD Research
Independent studies, as well as anecdotal history, have provided clear evidence of cannabidiol’s ability to supplement the endocannabinoid system, and provide many medicinal and therapeutic qualities. Several of these qualities benefit OCD directly, such as
- Anxiolytic CBD oil has already been used to treat depression in animal testing, even treating insomnia and stress in children with PTSD. The use of CBD is also shown to help relieve symptoms of other anxiety disorders, including panic attacks, general anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
- Anti-Epileptic strains of medical cannabis high in CBD have successfully been used in treating conditions that cause convulsions, seizures and muscle spasms. Because of its neuroleptic effects, CBD is able to reduce the severity of obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors in children, adults and even pets.
- Antipsychotic CBD is also shown to effectively reduce the symptoms of more chronic conditions such as schizophrenia, manic depression and bipolar disorder. Studies show that CBD medication is not a suitable replacement, but a viable addition to existing antipsychotic treatment.
In combination, CBD’s anxiolytic, anti-epileptic and antipsychotic qualities make it a good choice for treating a broad spectrum of anxiety symptoms and disorders. More importantly, supplementing with CBD may reduce risks associated with the neurological and genetic/hereditary aspects (discussed above) of OCD.
CBD for OCD Thoughts: Does It Really Help?
The viability of cannabidiol in treating symptoms of OCD is more than speculation in the medical community. A 2015 neurotherapeutics study by Esther Blessing and Maria Steenkamp provides plenty of evidence that CBD for OCD is effective. Other supporting studies include Boshuisen et al (2002), Bystritsky et al (2001), Osuch et al (2001) and Schneider et al (1999).
Because they affect the limbic region of the brain, the symptoms from disorders like OCD, epilepsy, dementia and ADHD can all be improved with cannabidiol supplementation. CBD also increases production signaling while inhibiting the breakdown of anandamide. Anandamide is a natural antidepressant named after the Sanskrit for Divine Joy and is commonly known as the “happiness hormone” because of its ability to regulate mood as well as sensations of fear, stress and happiness.
The Entourage Effect
When used alongside other compounds within the cannabis or hemp plant, CBD may actually be more effective than when used alone.
Several studies have shown that various terpenes have anti-anxiety effects of their own. The interaction between CBD and these terpenes may provide a synergistic effect. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.
For this reason, many people prefer to choose broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum CBD oils and claim that these provide more relief than CBD isolate alone.
Which CBD Oil Should You Buy for OCD?
As CBD is a relatively new industry, picking a CBD oil for the symptoms of OCD can feel a bit like it’s the wild west out there.
We’ve put together this list of three CBD oils from companies that we trust and that we’re confident you’ll be satisfied with.
Broad Spectrum CBD Tincture – Koi Naturals
Our Number 1 Choice
A CBD-expert colleague sent multiple products to labs and found Koi to be the most reliable in its labeling.
Koi’s Hemp Extract Tinctures have been “formulated to provide a complete and restorative experience and to bring balance in your life.”
They contain less than 0.001% of THC (so you needn’t worry if THC has an unpleasant effect on you), and as it’s a broad spectrum product it contains naturally occurring terpenes and other phytocannabinoids. This is an ideal CBD oil for Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
There are four strengths available (250mg, 500mg, 1000mg, and 2000mg).
If you’re splashing out on 2000mg CBD you want to be sure you’re getting every milligram of CBD you’ve paid for – fortunately every one of Koi’s products has an independent Certificate of Analysis from CannaSafe.
Full Spectrum Organic CBD Tincture – Joy Organics
If you’re like us, then you dread the taste of unflavored CBD oil under the tongue. Fortunately, Joy Organics knows how you feel and has produced the best tasting flavors we’ve tried.
And don’t just take our word for it. Their tinctures frequently come out top on nearly all of the top 10 lists we’ve seen online.
Fresh Lime, Tranquil Mint, Orange Bliss, and Summer Lemon flavors are all available in various strengths and sizes.
If you’re suffering from OCD and anxiety-related symptoms, these calming flavors immediately get you in the right frame of mind to reclaim some peace and calm.
Joy Organics has been around since 2018 and was one of the first CBD brands that we had contact with. They also provide copies of all their Certificates of Analysis (COAs) and third-party reports, so you’re always getting a high-quality product.
CBD + CBN Oil Calming Tincture – CBDfx
Best Value for Money
Not only great value for money, but CBDfx has also produced a propriety blend of CBN and terpenes intended to calm you down and keep you that way.
Each bottle contains CBN (aka “the relaxation cannabinoid”) which binds to your CB1 receptors and may produce a sedative-like effect.
Even with these added extras, CBDfx’s CBD oil tinctures are super affordable AND they tick all the boxes when it comes to Certificates of Analysis and Lab Reports. CBDfx also has frequent promos, so you can save even more money by checking their site regularly.
If you find that you need super-strength CBD oil (CBDfx has up to 6000MG), then you’ll struggle to find a better value product (on a cost per MG of CBD basis).
Another thing that stands out is their 60-day money-back guarantee (most other brands are only offering 30-days at the time of writing)
Yum Yum Full-Spectrum CBD Relax Cubes – Diamond CBD
These full-spectrum ‘relax’ gummies, are perfectly portable and easy to consume in any stressful situation.
There’s a total of 1250 mgs of CBD in each tub, which means a well-balanced dose of 25 mg of CBD per cube.
They’re available in various fruit flavors, and we recommend you order the assorted tub on your first try. If you prefer one of the four flavors over the others, you can order a single flavored tub on your next purchase!
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
The CBD market has grown so fast that selecting high-quality, high-value products is challenging. When evaluating what’s best for you, consider the following:
Look for Hemp Sourced In the USA or Europe
Try to buy CBD sourced from hemp products grown in the USA or Europe. These tend to have higher quality, fewer contaminants, and are free of GMOs.
The Hemp grown in these areas has lower levels of THC. When you are taking CBD, you typically do not want THC: for someone feeling anxious, THC can make nervousness worse.
Isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum?
There are three different types of CBD to choose from, and you’ll need to understand the differences between them to decide which CBD is best for people with OCD.
- CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD (and the most expensive too)! It contains no terpenes or any of the other compounds found in hemp. Use if you don’t want to worry about the effects of any other compounds in hemp.
- Full Spectrum CBD does contain other compounds including flavonoids and terpenes – and of course THC. To be legal it must contain less than 0.3%THC. Use Full Spectrum if you want the full effect of CBD, and aren’t worried about the effects of THC.
- Broad Spectrum CBD is Full-Spectrum but without the THC. Use to get the full benefit of hemp without the THC.
The big difference between the three is terpenes (the aromatic compounds found throughout nature, that give cannabis its distinctive taste and smell).
Terpenes, such as limonene, myrcene, or pinene may provide their own effects and relief from anxiety disorders.
Some studies suggest that CBD is more effective when used alongside terpenes, in a phenomenon known as the ‘ entourage effect ’.
Strength & Potency
You can easily waste money on a CBD oil that isn’t potent enough to deal with your OCD symptoms if you don’t check the label carefully.
You’ll notice CBD oil is usually measured in milligrams (mg). The higher this number, the stronger (and more expensive) the CBD oil will be.
Most brands have CBD products with several levels of potency to choose from.
It’s recommended to start at lower potencies and to use a lower amount of CBD. You can work your way up to higher dosages later if you’re not achieving the desired effect.
Most people with OCD don’t care about the taste, while others can’t even bear to think about the taste of an unflavored CBD oil.
If you fall into the second camp, look for a brand with well-reviewed flavors.
Fruit flavors tend to be the most common, but we’ve even seen ‘lemongrass and ginger’ and ‘skittles’ flavors on some sites.
3rd Party Testing & Transparency
Any reputable CBD company will have third-party testing certificates for you to examine on their website.
Take some time to download and read these, and then check the lab that was used for the testing also has a good record (if they don’t have a Google Maps listing this is a BIG red flag!)
You can also examine the ingredients of the CBD oil, which should be listed out on both the label and test results in full.
If you’re new to CBD, how do you know if a brand has a good reputation? You can certainly look at reviews, but we all know how easily they can be faked. Nowadays, there are online dispensaries in Canada that don’t even have a physical location. So how do we know who to trust?
For external reviews, a great place to look is YouTube. It’s much harder to fake a video than it is to write a phony review.
You can also take a look at their Facebook page, and search on other social media networks to look for unbiased opinions.
Customer Service & Returns
If you have OCD, the last thing you need is further anxiety if something goes wrong.
Check out their returns policy, and if you’re still concerned then shoot them an email with a few questions.
Any customer-focused CBD brand will answer you within a few hours, and this should put your mind at rest.
A Brief Look at OCD’s Root Causes and Effects
In a nutshell, OCD is a cycle of repetitive behavior, obsession, and compulsion. Obsessions are unwanted or intrusive thoughts or memories and images that trigger feelings of distress. The resulting compulsions are various repetitive behaviors an OCD individual engages in to control the obsessions and/or cope with feelings of distress.
Because OCD often occurs with other disorders, it has been challenging for the scientific community to study and diagnose. As of now, there are two main theories regarding its origins:
Neurological medical journals show that OCD patients respond to Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (or SSRIs) with some consistency, leading researchers to suggest that OCD is largely a neurological disorder. However, it’s widely accepted that there are likely other contributing factors.
Genetic OCD has an increased rate of occurrence among first-degree relatives, supporting the idea that there are genetic and hereditary aspects to the disorder. According to the NIMH, individuals with a diagnosed sibling or parent are at significantly higher risk of developing OCD.
The degree of impairment caused by obsessive-compulsive disorder varies by personality type. Obsessions can be irregular or constant, with the potential to seriously harm one’s productivity and reputation in the workplace, university or neighborhood. In either case, it isn’t hard to imagine how excessive compulsive behavior can disrupt daily routines and social interactions.
Natural Medicine is The Best Medicine
More specialized research will be needed to highlight CBD’s viability in tackling OCD specifically. However, there’s an abundance of mainstream and independent material (as well as anecdotal evidence from OCD patients themselves) showing CBD to be effective in treating a wide range of symptoms brought about by anxiety. Fortunately, obsessive-compulsive disorder is no exception, as it falls well within the spectrum of genetic and neurological anxiety disorders.
*The content in this article is for general information only and should not be seen as a substitute for professional advice. For more specific insight into your medical condition, speak with your healthcare provider about the treatment options that are available to you.
**These products have been independently chosen and reviewed. We may earn a small commission if you click to one of their websites and make a purchase. Please note that Healthy Minded continues to run (without a profit) from the small number of hand-picked affiliate programs we join.
About Eric Van Buskirk
Van Buskirk has a BS in Psychology from Skidmore College, 1988. He oversaw nine of the largest content marketing data studies of 2016 and 2017. Articles with methods, results, and actionable insights were published on clients’ websites. The main focus for the studies were keywords in SEO, semantic SEO, and how links affect search engine ranking.
(13) (3) (6) (3) (1) (8) (17) (24) (3) (6) (39)
Articles on Healthy Minded are not substitutes for medical advice from professional healthcare providers. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please consult with a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
All medical and health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only. Accordingly, before taking any actions based on such information, we encourage you to consult directly with an appropriate mental health or medical professional.
Can You Use CBD Oil for OCD Treatments?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a very common form of mental anxiety. It’s a condition that scientists suspect will impact one in every 50 people, or roughly 2% of the population in the United States. OCD is also believed to be a more common disorder than bipolar depression.
Treatments for OCD vary from prescribed medication to more natural remedies. Patients with OCD and OCD-like symptoms are increasingly in favour of naturopathic treatments for their condition. The health and wellness industry has blossomed in recent years as new generations adapt healthier, organic means of living.
As a result, there’s growing demand among OCD patients in using cannabidiol (CBD) oil to discontinue the effects of their conditions. CBD oil has been used to help treat patients with cases of anxiety and depression, providing a template for how it can also combat OCD symptoms. CBD is also available in a wide selection of products that provide easy-to-digest options for people to self-medicate.
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Let’s take a minute to define OCD as a condition. OCD is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a “disorder in which time people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).”
Focused thoughts and recurring behaviours are normal in most people. We’ve all experienced moments of intense, scrutinous thinking that captures all of our focus, and most people are known to have daily routines or habits between their work and home lives.
However, people with OCD become so obsessed by relentless thoughts and routines that they actually get in the way of daily productivity. Even when patients with OCD recognize that they have compulsive habits, it’s extremely difficult to break those routines and let the obsession go.
What medication is best for OCD?
When doctors suspect a patient is susceptible to OCD, they recommend a diagnostic test to verify the symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, the test is a three-step process involving:
- Psychological evaluation → diagnosis of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to determine if obsessions or compulsions hinder quality of life
- Diagnostic criteria → verification of symptoms as highlighted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
- Physical exam → an attempt to rule out other causes of the symptoms in order to confirm OCD or another mental disorder
Once an OCD diagnosis is confirmed, patients are referred to psychotherapists for regular talk or behavioural therapeutic treatment. In some cases, when OCD symptoms are severe, doctors will prescribe certain medications to help minimize the effects of OCD. The most common form of medication is an FDA-approved antidepressant in the form of:
- Clomipramine or anafranil for adults and large children
- Fluoxetine or prozac for adults and small children
- Paroxetine or pexeva for adults only
Any medication for OCD should be recommended and prescribed by your primary physician. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed by physicians for patients with diagnosed mental disorders or symptoms of underlying conditions. If experiencing any side effects to the treatment, speak with your doctor about the concerns and discuss alternative methods of combating OCD.
Can CBD oil treat OCD?
One alternative that is worth discussing is CBD oil for OCD. Known for supplementing the endocannabinoid system, CBD oil for OCD helps minimize physical and mental ailments caused by depleted levels of endocannabinoids in human bodies.
Clinical studies have documented how CBD oil improves the quality of life for people living with mental disorders and conditions, particularly in people suffering from severe cases of anxiety. Excessive anxiety is one of the root causes of OCD, leading physicians to suspect that CBD could be of similar therapeutic benefit for people combating obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Over the course of a number of preclinical studies involving CBD and compulsive behaviour models, scientists determined that CBD oil for OCD had a positive effect in minimizing systematic triggers that would result in OCD and OCD-like symptoms. At the conclusion of the study, doctors described systematic CBD doses as an acute treatment for a variety of mental anxiety disorders and, among those conditions, OCD.
CBD dosage for OCD
The ideal amount of CBD oil to take on a daily basis depends on a variety of factors. The severity of OCD, such as how symptoms of the condition interfere with your day to day life, guide physicians on the optimal amount of treatment for the condition.
Always consult with your primary physician to calculate the healthy dosage of CBD oil to treat your symptoms. Doctors will likely recommend the lowest or minimal amount of CBD oil when you first begin treating OCD, and then gradually recommend increasing the dosage as time goes on.
Many people can healthily ingest between 10 to 30 milligrams of CBD oil daily to treat underlying conditions. In some instances, doses can be as high as 100 milligrams or more, depending on the severity of the condition and the size of the patient. People with larger body masses are capable of ingesting greater quantities of CBD oil to treat their conditions.
Again, always keep in touch with your primary physician as you use CBD to treat OCD. If you notice any worsening of symptoms, consult with your doctor on why that may be the case. If there are any other side effects, talk with your doctor about what to do and whether a lower dosage of CBD oil would be a healthy step to continue treating your condition.
Organic remedies like CBD oil are healthy ways to combat conditions like OCD. But any CBD treatment should be prescribed by a doctor and any developments that occur during treatment should be discussed in detail with your physician.
OCD can significantly impact the quality of your life, but CBD can go a long way towards minimizing the effects of the condition. Ensure you live as high quality of a life as you can by speaking to your doctor about CBD oil and testing how it can remedy your symptoms.