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Strange situations, whether they happened or didn’t happen, run through my mind, and in addition, the lock on the front door must be checked at least a hundred times before leaving. Does it sound familiar? Everyone has mild symptoms, but sometimes it may be an obsessive-compulsive disorder, i.e. OCD. OCD is not serious, but is in any case a state of mind classified as a psychological disorder. In this article, we take a deeper look at OCD, see what the endocannabinoid system has to do with it, and consider whether CBD could help with obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a psychiatric disorder based on compulsive thoughts and action patterns. It is estimated that around 1-3% of Finns suffer from obsessive-compulsive symptoms, but the diagnosis is rarer than that. The disorder is not dangerous, but its symptoms can be so strong that it controls a person’s life and thoughts. (1)
The disorder usually starts already in childhood, but it also appears together with other psychiatric diseases, such as depression and anxiety. The risk of obsessive-compulsive symptoms during pregnancy and breastfeeding has been found to increase approximately twice compared to normal. The actual peaks for the onset of symptoms are in adolescence and young adulthood. (1,2)
All people have compulsive thoughts, feelings and behaviors in some situations, but the symptoms are classified as a disorder when they affect life in a dominant way.
Factors behind the outbreak
It is not known exactly what causes obsessive-compulsive symptoms, but it is suspected that e.g. inflammation of the body, oxidative stress and a disorder related to the glutamatergic pathway, which is behind almost all psychological illnesses. (1,2,3)
Obsessions rule life
Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms are related to either compulsive thoughts or compulsive actions and are often unrealistic and excessive.
Compulsive thoughts include, for example, fears of contamination and contracting diseases, paranoia and suspicion. The thoughts are mostly distressing and negative. (1,2) Compulsions are often neurotic ways of controlling these thoughts.
A person suffering from compulsive symptoms may wash their hands so much for fear of disease that the skin breaks or clean so neurotically that all places are shiny, and even that is not enough. The symptom picture is also related to the need for symmetry, in which case everything must be in a certain order and everything must be perfectly in its place all the time (1,2).
The person suffering from the symptoms often realizes that the way he acts or thinks is no longer normal, but is still unable to change his habits without help.
The OCD test
There are several different tests that you can use to examine your compulsions before going to the doctor. OCD test of the mental health center can be found here .
In addition, the website of Mielenterveystalo also has a self-care program for those suffering from mild and moderate symptoms and Welcome to the self-care program for obsessive-compulsive symptoms | Mielenterveystalo.fi .
Obsessive compulsive disorder treatment and medications
In general, therapy and drug therapy or their combination are used as treatment, but neuromodulation treatments are also used. (2) Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is primarily used as a treatment, is not so effective that it is necessary to develop other ways to relieve symptoms or eliminate them completely.
The endocannabinoid system and OCD
The endocannabinoid system is an observer of all body functions, whose task is to balance vital functions. The endocannabinoid system is found in all humans and all animals, except crustaceans, and has numerous different functions throughout the body.
The endocannabinoid system consists of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and enzymes that break them down.
In the background of obsessive-compulsive disorder, it has been observed, for example, increased endocannabinoid levels in the brain, which is where the symptoms start. (4) Of course, this does not mean that the endocannabinoid system is the cause of the onset of diseases, but that somewhere in the body there is a place where endocannabinoids and their corresponding receptors are needed more. You can read more about the lack of endocannabinoids and its effect on the onset of diseases in the article endocannabinoid deficiency state .
CBD is a compound found in the hemp plant, which, according to studies, has numerous effects on the functions of the human and animal bodies. In addition to being neuroprotective, antioxidant and oxidative stress-relieving, according to studies, it has been found to be a good support alongside the treatment of many psychiatric diseases. (4)
Only a few studies have been conducted on the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of OCD, but already based on them, it is possible to say that cannabinoids probably have positive effects in alleviating obsessive-compulsive disorder. (3,4)
GSK-3β is an enzyme whose imbalanced activity affects the background of several neurological diseases. It regulates e.g. cell membrane, inflammatory pathways and neuron polarities and affects the occurrence of oxidative stress. According to researches CBD reduces the activity of the GSK-3β enzyme, as well as controlling the release of serotonin and relieving anxiety and psychotic symptoms. (3)
CBD oil according to studies and user experiences, it is well tolerated, effective and safe to use to alleviate the symptoms of many different diseases. It has numerous properties that may have a positive effect, e.g. insomnia and anxiety and it has been found to alleviate e.g. symptoms of post-traumatic stress and stress .
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mild mental illness that nevertheless has a sensitive life-dominating effect. Symptoms include being neurotic about things like washing your hands. It is possible to get rid of obsessive-compulsive disorder with, for example, therapy.
- The working group established by Duodecim of the Finnish Medical Association and the Finnish Psychiatric Association. Duodecim treatment. https://www.kaypahoito.fi/hoi50129. Referred on 20/02/2023
- Mieli.fi. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. https://mieli.fi/mielenterveys-koetuksella/pakko-oireinen-hairio/. Referred on 20/02/2023
- Kayser RR, Haney M, Raskin M, Arout C, and Simpson HB. 2020. Acute Effects of Cannabinoids on Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Human Laboratory Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7423713/. Referred on 20/02/2023
- Vallee A., Lecarpentier Y. and Vallee JN.. 2021. Molecular psychiatry. Possible actions of cannabidiol in obsessive-compulsive disorder by targeting the WNT/β-catenin pathway. https://flowermed.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Possible-actions-of-cannabidiol-in-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-by.pdf. Referred on 20/02/2023.