The typical treatments of trichotillomania in instances that require medication are anti-depressants. Aside from these side-effect laden medications, there are very few options for medication. The same goes for other impulse control disorders. There is some research into use of medical marijuana and impulse control disorders that suggests it could provide relief from the impulse and the cause. Medical marijuana research has also delved into depression and anxiety. While research directly pertaining to trichotillomania is scant, research into the aforementioned areas of trichotillomania provide enough evidence to support pre-clinical and/or clinical testing on trichotillomania specifically.
One open clinical trial that involved 14 women with trichotillomania, 12 of whom finished the trial. The authors of the study concluded that treatment with dronabinol — a synthetic THC — significantly reduced the impulsive behavior of the subjects. However, they also noted that the trial was open and there were few subjects. A larger blind, placebo-controlled study would provide results that are more conclusive.
The underlying cause for individuals with trichotillomania can differ between sufferers. Therefore, the medical marijuana treatment may differ. If the underlying cause is anxiety, sufferers will have to find a strain or a derivative that alleviates their anxiety rather than increasing it. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can have either effect. What treatment works best for trichotillomania-related anxiety will depend on the sufferer’s reaction to the medication.
There is a wealth of anecdotal and clinical research that suggests medical marijuana increases or even causes anxiety. More research must be conducted on which components of marijuana appear to increase anxiety and which appear to decrease it. That may be the secret to discovering why medical marijuana can also have the opposite effect. In the abovementioned clinical study, medical marijuana had a positive effect on trichotillomania. It would be helpful in future studies for anxiety to be monitored and for the study group to include some individuals with notable anxiety and trichotillomania.
According to a survey of 4,400 marijuana users, those who use marijuana experience fewer subjective symptoms of depression than those who do not. This shows that individuals with trichotillomania brought on by depression could be treated with medical marijuana. Even if the effects were purely subjective, which is unlikely, the relief and potential cessation of hair pulling would be real. In these cases, it is all about how a patient feels. Of course, placebo-controlled clinical trials would give more insight into whether medical marijuana treatment for depression can alleviate trichotillomania specifically.
This information is not provided by medical professionals and is intended only to complement, and not to replace or contradict, any health or medical advice or information provided by healthcare professionals. If you have any questions, please contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.