When talking about anxiety problems, there are different conditions that one may experience. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an example of an anxiety disorder. It affects over 2 million U.S. adults and is considered a chronic anxiety disorder.
Like other anxiety problems, those with OCD have recurring intrusive thoughts that cause stress and panic. The individual acts out in specific behaviors that they feel will prevent or decrease anxiety to alleviate those symptoms. Unfortunately, those with OCD may also obsess over these behaviors and often repeat them.
Let’s take the fear of robbery as an example. Individuals may be so scared of someone breaking into their home that they will obsessively lock their doors and windows. They may also repeatedly check to ensure their doors and windows are all locked before leaving the house or going to sleep.
While there is no cure to OCD, therapy, certain medications, and other holistic options may alleviate some OCD symptoms. Those interested in a holistic option may be curious about CBD. CBD is one of the most beneficial cannabinoids in the hemp and marijuana plants.
First and foremost, let’s see how CBD can potentially help anxiety.
Research is sparse and contradictory. In some subjects, CBD decreased anxiety. But in others, CBD had no effect on anxiety. The marijuana plant also comprises several cannabinoids, such as THC, which also impact anxiety.
We also don’t know exactly how CBD affects anxiety. One of the main theories centers around our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how it affects our stressors. Our ECS affects many bodily processes, from temperature regulation to pain response. It’s also said to affect stress levels and even sleep.
According to recent research, the ECS controls our amygdala, a part of the brain that controls our perceived dangers and ignites our fight-or-flight instinct. The leading theory is that the ECS makes the amygdala less active, so we don’t react to our anxiety.
What does our ECS have to do with CBD? All components in cannabis impact our endocannabinoids in different ways. While we’re not sure how CBD affects our ECS, the leading theory is that CBD prevents endocannabinoids from breaking down, ensuring our ECS stays strong.
Again, more research needs to support these claims. The FDA doesn’t approve CBD for anxiety.
CBD vs. Anxiety Medication
Disclaimer: this advice doesn’t replace a recommendation from a psychiatrist or your doctor. Please discuss your options with a professional.
Suppose you’re debating taking anxiety medication or haven’t had luck with anti-anxiety prescription drugs in the past. In that case, you may be thinking about trying CBD. But can it replace your anti-anxiety medication?
Well, this is hard to answer because everyone is different. Some people can keep their anxiety at bay with holistic remedies and healthy lifestyle decisions such as a nutritious diet, exercise, and meditation. Those who have luck curbing their symptoms with holistic means will likely benefit from CBD.
However, some feel they need anti-anxiety medication. There are various types of anti-anxiety medication, and all affect the brain in different ways. For example, some medications help to increase “happy chemicals” in our brain.
Suppose your psychiatrist thinks you have a neurotransmitter imbalance in your brain. In that case, they may recommend you take anti-anxiety medication every day.
Keep in mind, both anti-anxiety medication and substances such as CBD are seen as temporary fixes. Regardless of whether or not you take CBD or prescription anxiety pills, you should still undergo behavior therapy to identify your OCD causes.
In addition, anti-anxiety prescriptions also come with an addiction risk and other severe side effects. CBD also comes with side effects, which we will discuss later. The FDA also doesn’t approve CBD for the treatment of anxiety. On the contrary, the FDA approves several medications for anxiety.
CBD vs. Other Natural Remedies
Many people with OCD take natural remedies to decrease their anxiety. Research shows that eating a healthy diet comprising of protein and whole grains can reduce the anxiety reactions associated with OCD. Thanks to the amino acid tryptophan, which is then converted to serotonin.
Certain herbs and essential oils can also help calm people down. For example, lavender is a common herb that people use to decrease anxiety. Most individuals smell lavender, usually as an essential oil, to promote feelings of relaxation.
Keep in mind, a big part of lavender’s effectiveness lies within the terpenes. Terpenes are compounds that affect many characteristics of a plant, such as how it smells. For example, linalool is a terpene commonly found in lavender. Smelling linalool promotes relaxation. This terpene is also found in several hemp and marijuana strains.
Since CBD comes from the cannabis plant, you may wonder if it’s legal.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, all substances that come from the hemp plant are entirely legal. As long as the CBD was extracted from hemp and not marijuana. When using full spectrum CBD, you can use those strains with up to 0.3% THC.
Keep in mind, some states legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana. In these states, you can consume psychoactive marijuana legally.
However, there are restrictions. In states where only medical marijuana is legal, you’ll need to have a specific qualifying condition to receive medical marijuana. Fortunately, anxiety disorders such as OCD are under most qualifying conditions. You’ll still have to meet with a marijuana doctor to receive full approval.
Suppose your state legalized marijuana on a recreational level. In that case, you don’t need pre-approval from a doctor to purchase cannabis. But most states have certain restrictions, such as age, when purchasing recreational marijuana. Always know your state’s laws before buying legal marijuana.
Types of CBD Products
If you decide to try CBD, three main product types are isolate, broad, and full spectrum. Understanding the differences between these products will ease the shopping process.
As you can tell by the title, CBD isolates comprise the single cannabinoid and nothing else. You won’t find THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids in the product.
These are a great option for those new to CBD. Others find the “entourage effect” more beneficial, which is why you may also want to consider broad and full spectrum CBD.
Broad spectrum CBD includes other compounds found in the hemp plant, such as terpenes and other cannabinoids, but doesn’t include THC. These are also ideal for those new to CBD but still want to benefit from the “entourage effect,” which refers to the potential health benefits of the entire hemp plant. In addition, broad spectrum is a good option if you want to try CBD but can’t risk consuming THC due to workplace drug testing or other issues.
As you can guess, full spectrum CBD contains all of the plant’s compounds, including THC. Using this type of CBD may offer more benefits for your OCD than the other products. That’s because THC decreases anxiety when consumed at low doses. Since full spectrum CBD contains less than 0.3% THC, this is an ideal dose for most people.
How to Take CBD
Once you decide which CBD product you should take, you’ll have to choose the best administrative method. Since topical CBD products only help with skin health and localized pain, we only cover digestive and inhalation methods.
CBD Oil or CBDTincture
CBD oil takes the CBD plus any additional hemp compounds and dissolves them in food-grade oil. You can easily take CBD oil in the sublingual method (under your tongue), or you can mix CBD oil in dressings, sauces, and even certain drinks such as smoothies.
The most common CBD edibles include gummies and capsules. Gummies are flavorful candies made with CBD and other cannabinoids. They’re usually made with artificial and natural flavors, so they taste good and are enjoyable.
If you would rather not consume the extra sugar, you can opt for CBD capsules instead. They consist of CBD oil but are inside of a capsule. You can find both CBD gummies and capsules in isolate, broad, and full spectrum varieties. Some are even made with additional ingredients.
CBD vapes are products where you inhale cannabinoids. Most CBD vapes are pre-filled disposable pens, but you can find a separate pen and opt for CBD refills.
Vaping is a quick way to feel the CBD effects (it usually takes between 20 minutes and a couple of hours to feel the effects of CBD tinctures and edibles). All you do is inhale the vape, and you’ll feel the effects after 15 minutes.
While you can also inhale hemp plants, vaping is more discreet and usually doesn’t come with a scent. You can also find CBD vape oil in different flavors, which is ideal for a delicious CBD experience without the extra calories.
Side Effects of CBD
CBD is considered a low-risk product, and the side effects are mild. However, it’s still worth knowing the most common side effects you may experience when taking CBD. These include:
The most important thing to know is if any medications you’re taking will interact with CBD. For example, mixing these prescriptions with CBD may cause fatigue if you’re on certain anxiety medications. Always talk to your doctor before taking CBD.
Our Favorite CBD Products for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Now that you know the basics of CBD, we can provide some product recommendations. I personally struggle with OCD and anxiety, and I can say these products helped with my anxiety.
Keep in mind, my recommendations don’t replace the advice from your doctor and/or psychologist. Always talk to a professional before trying CBD.
I personally prefer flavorless CBD oil, which is why I recommend this product. From 600 mg to 1,200 mg CBD oil, this stuff is potent. And at prices that vary between $45 – $80, you’re not paying a big price for a quality product. Made within organic MCT oil and third-party tested, you can trust the safety and effectiveness of this product.
The Outside Way is also a small business, and supporting small businesses is a big passion of mine. This business was formed by Sean and Geneva. Their goal is to spread good vibes and inspire others to spend more time outdoors.
I buy these products at a local CBD dispensary. I was attracted to the water-soluble because I can mix them with my coffee or tea without the oily aftertaste.
Personally, I’m a full spectrum fan, and I love how the water molecules still produce faster results than other edibles. This product is available in different flavors (though I prefer flavorless), and the strengths vary from 300 mg to 1,200 mg CBD.
CBD oil can be hard to dose. What I like about edibles because the dosing is straightforward: take one or two edibles a day, and you’re done! But I personally don’t like sugary gummies, so these capsules are a great alternative.
I found these capsules at a healthy/organic grocery store chain. They’re full spectrum, and each capsule has 15mg CBD, which is a good amount (though they have stronger varieties).
You can find these products in all different sizes, and they’re relatively affordable. For example, the 90-count costs $90. If you take one capsule a day, this product will last you practically three months! Not a bad price.
If you want a tastier treat than just capsules, Charlotte’s Web also offers some of the best CBD gummies.
What I really like about Charlotte’s Web brand is that they have various gummies intended to give different effects. Calm obviously eases life’s most stressful situations while also helping you stay focused.
These are full spectrum gummies and taste like lemon-lime. Other than a preservative, it looks like the gummies are made with natural ingredients, and the lemon-lime flavor comes from citric acid and lemon juice concentrate.
While I prefer full spectrum CBD, I wanted to include a broad spectrum product for those who don’t like THC. What I like about this brand is their transparency about their hemp source. They use organic Oregon-grown hemp.
This CBD oil is available in several flavors. While I would buy the natural, I suggest looking into some other fun flavors such as citrus, mint, cookies and cream, and strawberry.
Question: Will CBD Help My Intrusive Thoughts?
Answer: One thing I will say about CBD is it doesn’t do much for my intrusive thoughts. Rather, it’s better for the physical aspects of anxiety.
I don’t get the “panicky” feelings, such as the rapid heartbeat, even when intrusive thought enters my head. This helps me forget about them easier – if that makes sense. I also had a lot of help from my therapist to control my thoughts, decreasing my stress.
If intrusive thoughts are what bother you, I’ve been told that anti-anxiety medication is better. But make sure you talk to a psychiatrist or your doctor first.
Question: My OCD Is Bad. Is There Anything Stronger Than CBD?
Answer: From my recommendations, you probably noticed that CBD can get strong. But what if your OCD is bad and CBD, even the strongest dose, isn’t enough for you. Do you have another option?
I suggest talking to your doctor or psychiatrist. Maybe find out if you’re a good candidate for anti-anxiety medication.
Question: Are There Any New OCD Treatments?
Answer: Believe it or not, CBD isn’t the newest OCD treatment. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) is FDA-approved and works by stimulating the brain. It targets a part of the brain called the CSTC circuit. This circuit is overactive in those with OCD.
OCD is a debilitating anxiety disorder comprised of intrusive thoughts and compulsive behavior. CBD has long been promoted as an anxiety reliever. Be sure to talk to your doctor or psychologist to determine results if CBD is right for you. Once you get your doctor’s approval, use our advice and recommendations to find the best CBD product for you!