Acute Cannabis Use Associated With Reduction in OCD Symptoms

Contemporary Clinic ® interviewed Carrie Cuttler, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University, on a recent study she co-authored on the use of cannabis in treating symptoms of OCD.

Contemporary Clinic® interviewed Carrie Cuttler, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University, on a recent study she co-authored that was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders on the use of cannabis in treating symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Alana Hippensteele:What were the findings of this most recent study that you published?

Carrie Cuttler: Yes, actually, I'm just going to briefly mention the methodology, and that's because we use kind of an unconventional methodology for this study as well. So, for this study, we were really looking at the acute effects of cannabis on intrusive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, and anxiety in people with OCD, and we were really able to accomplish this for the generous support of Strainprint, which is a Canadian company with a real-world technology platform and journaling application that allows medical cannabis patients to indicate their conditions and symptoms and rate the severity of those symptoms immediately before and then again shortly after cannabis use.

Further, patients can provide information about the strains of cannabis they're about to use, including THC and CBD concentrations method of administration and dose. The Strainprint app was really developed to help medical cannabis patients find the strains and doses of cannabis that reduce their symptoms the most, but they were generous enough to freely and openly provide us with some of the global back data from this application.

Specifically, they provided us with symptom ratings of intrusions, compulsions, and anxiety made by individuals self-identifying with OCD before and after over 1800 cannabis-use sessions. They also provided us with data on doses, methods of administration, and, again, THC and CBD content in the strains.

So, we use some advanced modeling methods to examine changes in the severity of these symptoms from before to after use, and we found on average that intrusions were reduced by about 49%, compulsions were reduced by 60%, and anxiety was reduced by 52%, indicating that acute cannabis use is associated with about a 50% reduction in the perceived severity of symptoms of OCD.

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