A non-psychoactive chemical in marijuana may be able to control symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to new research out of Brazil.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the major compounds found in marijuana, but lacks the high caused by THC. Previous studies suggest that it can be used to combat anxiety and other obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
While research has mostly involved simple animal models, a team led by Dr. Francisco Guimarães of the University of Sao Paulo’s School of Medicine decided to test cannabidiol in rats that were given mCPP – a drug that blocks the effects of traditional OCD treatments.
Interestingly, even at low doses, CBD was able to reverse the obsessive-compulsive behavior caused by mCPP. Published in the journal Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology, the authors conclude that the study adds support to “a possible anti-compulsive effect of CBD.”
Serotonin levels were traditionally thought to play a dominant role in OCD. On the other hand, while researchers are still unsure of how CBD works to reduce obsessive-compulsive symptoms, a number of studies suggest that activation of CB1 receptors may be responsible.
Thus, the authors of the latest study say that both systems may interact to provide relief from the disorder.
“These results suggest that the serotonergic and cannabinoid systems interact to control repetitive behaviors, although the precise nature of this interaction is not clear.”
And it’s not just the CBD in marijuana that seems to help. In a study published in 2011, researchers were able to reduce obsessive-compulsive behavior in rats by treating them with a synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC.
Although human studies still need to be done, scientists believe that cannabinoids could be used to manage OCD in the future.
The study was published ahead of print and sources of funding were not reported