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Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

For people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), cannabidiol (CBD) may help with a few different symptoms.

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CBD is a compound from the cannabis plant that manufacturers add to many products, including lotions, teas, and gummies. A person can also take CBD in oil or capsule form. People may use CBD to manage a range of health conditions, including OCD.

CBD comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. On its own, CBD does not create the “high” feeling associated with cannabis.

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive part of the plant, and some manufacturers remove all THC from their CBD products.

For a CBD product to be sold legally in the United States, it must contain no more than 0.3% THC, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Learn more about the difference between CBD and THC here.

Studies are ongoing and there are still relatively few. However, there is some evidence that CBD may benefit people with mental health conditions, including OCD. There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest this.

A review from 2019 concluded that though the research is still in its infancy, current data indicate that cannabinoids reduce symptoms such as anxiety, fear, and certain repetitive behaviors in people with OCD.

The authors call for more research into the potential for CBD to be an alternative OCD treatment.

An earlier review, from 2015, found that CBD may be a remedy for symptoms of anxiety in people who take higher doses, ranging from 300–600 milligrams (mg).

The authors called for long-term research to investigate whether this apparent benefit may be lasting or temporary.

However, in this review, much of the data concerned people with social anxiety disorder. Determining the effects on anxiety symptoms in people with OCD will require more research.

The evidence to support CBD as an effective remedy for OCD is currently weak. Questions remain about the efficacy and safety of this approach, and further research is necessary.

The entourage effect

When paired with CBD, some other compounds in cannabis may help relieve some OCD symptoms. This is called the “entourage effect.”

It suggests that the combined effect of the compounds in cannabis is greater than the effect of CBD on its own. There may be some interactions between these compounds that increase their benefits.

A 2020 review reports that a number of compounds in cannabis called terpenes can reduce anxiety. The researchers found that the interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes might provide an entourage effect. They call for further research.

Anecdotally, anyone who feels that certain terpenes or other compounds in cannabis enhance the effects of CBD in their body might choose a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD product.

Read our buyer’s guide to learn more about CBD terms and how to choose the best product.

Here, we look at some of the pros and cons of using CBD to ease symptoms of OCD.

Pros

  • CBD may help reduce anxiety.
  • CBD products are federally legal if they contain no more than 0.3% THC.
  • Most companies display certificates of authenticity from third-party labs to guarantee the purity of ingredients and accuracy of quantities.
  • A person does not need a prescription for CBD.

Cons

  • The FDA has only approved one medication that contains CBD, and this treats seizures.
  • It warns that CBD can cause serious side effects.
  • CBD products may still be illegal in some states.

Everyone responds differently to different CBD products. A person might try a few products before finding one that helps them.

Below are some options that may be useful.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information is purely research-based and was correct at the time of publishing.

Charlotte’s Web CBD Gummies

Best for relaxation

These gummies aim to support relaxation and ease anxiety and stress, which may benefit people with OCD.

A serving provides 10 mg of full-spectrum hemp extract, including other terpenes and cannabinoids of the plant.

The blend also contains other compounds, such as 50 mg of L-theanine and 75 mg of lemon balm to promote calmness.

LiftMode Hemp Extract Oil, Sleep

Best calming

This is a CBD tincture. Each bottle contains 1,500 mg of CBD, and each serving contains about 25 mg of full-spectrum CBD distillate.

A serving also contains 1 mg of melatonin, which may help promote sleep, so a person might take it close to bedtime.

Calm by Wellness Hemp CBD Sleep Oil Tincture

Best for sleep

This is an option for people who are looking to ease into restful sleep but who do not enjoy the effects of melatonin.

Each serving contains 22 mg of broad-spectrum hemp, delivering 17 mg of CBD. The blend also contains a number of terpenes, including lavender and chamomile compounds, which may promote a calm, relaxed state.

Use code MNT20 for 20% off.

Aspen Green Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil

Best high strength

A stronger option, each 3,000-mg bottle of this hemp oil delivers about 60 mg of full-spectrum CBD per serving, plus all the terpenes in the cannabis plant.

Hawaiian Choice Fruit Jellies

Best tropical blend jelly

These jellies are an alternative to gummy options. One jelly provides 25 mg of broad-spectrum hemp with no THC.

Each also contains local produce from Hawaii, including passionfruit, pineapple, and turmeric.

JustCBD CBD Gummies

Best for first-time CBD users

Each gummie contains about 10 mg of CBD.

This is a lower-dose option, which may make it a good starting point for people who are new to CBD. The dose may not make it ideal for targeting specific symptoms, however.

CBD is generally a low-risk option and does not cause severe side effects. However, some people may not respond well to it.

Some potential risks include:

  • diarrhea
  • decreased appetite
  • an altered state of alertness
  • sedation
  • drowsiness
  • drug interactions
  • potential liver injury

Anyone considering using CBD for any reason should speak with a healthcare professional first to discuss these risks and check for any potential interactions.

There are other natural remedies for OCD symptoms. For example, the 2020 review found that the following sources of terpenes have well-researched antianxiety effects:

  • lavender
  • bitter orange
  • sweet orange
  • bergamot
  • yarrow

This is not an exclusive list — many plants contain terpenes. These are just some of the more researched sources.

As the International OCD Foundation notes, some over-the-counter supplements may help with symptoms of OCD or associated conditions, either alone or with standard treatment.

These include:

  • N-acetylcysteine (N-AC)
  • sarcosine
  • tryptophan and 5-HTP
  • myo-inositol (MI)
  • St. John’s wort
  • kava

That said, research into many of these supplements is still ongoing, and there is generally little concrete evidence of benefits.

A systematic review of complementary remedies for OCD found that using the nutrient glycine and traditional herbal remedies milk thistle and borage had positive effects.

It noted that N-AC helped reduce symptoms of trichotillomania, a disorder that involves hair-pulling, as did movement decoupling, a self-help technique. The review found mixed evidence about the effects of MI.

And it noted that St. John’s wort, eicosapentaenoic acid, and meridian tapping did not seem to relieve OCD symptoms.

Below, find answers to some common questions about CBD and OCD.

What is the best CBD product for OCD?

Everyone responds differently to the various types of CBD. Testing different types and strengths may help a person find the best product for their needs.

Does CBD oil help with anxiety and OCD?

Anecdotal evidence shows that CBD oil helps with mental health conditions, including anxiety and OCD.

What is the best medication for OCD intrusive thoughts?

A 2019 assessment concluded that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are OCD’s most effective treatment. Anyone interested in this type of prescription medication should speak with a doctor.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that people with OCD who try CBD sometimes find it helpful.

Some recent scientific research supports this. However, more research is necessary before scientists can confirm the benefits.

Anyone looking for a natural alternative or complement to their OCD treatment should work closely with a healthcare professional.