Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychological condition that involves recurrent and persistent thoughts or images (obsessions) that are experienced as intrusive and cause distress. These obsessions are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems, but take on an unrealistic quality. In order to combat their obsessions, people with OCD engage in repetitive behaviors (compulsions), often following rigid self-imposed rules.
The cause of OCD is not known. Antidepressant drugs that affect serotonin levels, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) , often relieve symptoms significantly, but the reasons for this are not clear. Psychotherapeutic and behavioral methods may also help.
Proposed Natural Treatments
The supplement inositol is thought to increase the body’s sensitivity to serotonin and on that basis it has been studied for use in a number of psychological conditions, including OCD.
In a small double-blind trial , use of inositol at a dose of 18 grams (g) daily for 6 weeks significantly improved symptoms of OCD as compared to placebo. 1 However, some evidence suggests that inositol does not increase the effectiveness of standard drugs for OCD. 2,3
The herb St. John’s wort has antidepressant properties and is thought to affect serotonin levels. On this basis, it has been tried for OCD, 5 but as yet there is no reliable evidence that it is effective. On a similar basis, the supplement 5-HTP has been suggested as a treatment for OCD, but again there is no meaningful evidence to turn to.
A form of magnet therapy called rTMS has shown promise for the treatment of depression. However, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 18 people with OCD found no evidence of benefit through the use of rTMS. 6
In a small, randomized trial, a yoga meditation technique called kundalini was more effective for OCD than a relaxation therapy involving mindfulness meditation after 3 months. 7 However, another small study found mindfulness meditation more helpful than no intervention for OCD symptoms. 8
Herbs and Supplements to Use Only With Caution
Various herbs and supplements may interact with drugs used to treat OCD. For more information on these potential risks see the individual drug article in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
- EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Reviewed: 09/2014
- Updated: 09/18/2014
Please note, not all procedures included in this resource library are available at Allegiance Health or performed by Allegiance Health physicians.
All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.