Natural Help for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD )



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Most people feel a need at times to check or double check that things such as turning the oven off, or locking the door have been done; this can be both useful and important to do. But when the checking and rechecking begins to dominate your day, or you feel a need to do things over and over you may have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is a condition where a person has obsessional, uncontrollable thoughts, and performs compulsive and repetitive actions [1].


Otago Psychologist States OCD needs correct diagnosis

Dr Chris Gale a psychologist from Otago University expressed concerns this week that people may think they have OCD when in fact they simply have individual quirks. He said, "to have OCD, it has to be making your life a misery." He also pointed out we dont have to medicate everything [2].


OCD can affect people of any age including children; it is a distressing disorder and is aggravated by anxiety. People with OCD may also have panic attacks or depression. The cause of OCD is not known, but scientific research indicates there may be a physical cause in the brain.


Natural approaches help people with OCD

The natural approaches I have used over the years to help people with OCD include changes in the diet, nutritional support, herbal medicine, homoeopathy, relaxation techniques, massage, Epsom salts baths and lifestyle changes, including exercise.


More and more research is emerging that demonstrates these natural approaches help OCD.  Research has shown the symptoms of OCD do improve with changes in lifestyle, and complementary therapies, including nutritional supplements, herbs, mind-body therapies, and massage [3, 4].


Nutrients relieve OCD symptoms

Studies have found nutritional, vitamin and mineral supplements help relieve OCD symptoms that have previously lasted for years, and may involve less risk and more benefit that conventional medication [5-8]. Often vitamins, minerals and the essential fatty acids are low in the general population; people with mental health problems tend to be exceptionally deficient in these nutrients [8].


All the B Vitamins are important for mental health. Folic acid [9], vitamin B12, vitamin B6 [9] and inositol [10] are especially important in relieving OCD symptoms.


Oxidative stress describes oxidative damage in a cell; the levels of the oxidative stress have been found to be much higher in the fat cells of people with OCD than others. Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress. Vitamin E and vitamin C are both antioxidants. People affected by OCD have been shown to be significantly deficient in Vitamin E and slightly deficient in vitamin C [11].


Herbal Medicine helps OCD

There is less research on herbal medicine and OCD. Some of the herbs I have found over the years to help relieve OCD are Valarian, Skullcap, Wood Betony, Passiflora, Vervain, Oats and German Chamomile. The use of herbal remedies has a history almost as long as mankind. There are a large number of herbal remedies traditionally used for anxiety states such as OCD, which include German Chamomile, Oats, and Valarian [12]. Current research exploring the use of Valerian, Kava Kava, Passionflower and Skullcap show these herbs can be helpful for OCD [13, 14]. 


Contact the Bay Health Clinic today to find out more, or to book a consultation with one of our Naturopaths; if needed they will also prepare tailored herbal medicines and recommend supplements to help you feel your best.  Call 07 571 3226 or email us:




1.    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder]

2.    Nothing fashionable about anxiety illness []

3.    Kathi JK, Scott S: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies to Promote Healthy Moods. Pediatric clinics of North America 2007, 54(6):901-926.

4.    Kinrys G, Coleman E, Rothstein E: Natural remedies for anxiety disorders: potential use and clinical applications. Depress Anxiety 2009, 26(3):259-265.

5.    Frazier EA, Fristad MA, Arnold LE: Multinutrient supplement as treatment: literature review and case report of a 12-year-old boy with bipolar disorder. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol 2009, 19(4):453-460.

6.     Kaplan BJ, Crawford SG, Gardner B, Farrelly G: Treatment of mood lability and explosive rage with minerals and vitamins: two case studies in children. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol 2002, 12(3):205-219.

7.  Rucklidge JJ: Successful treatment of OCD with a micronutrient formula following partial response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): a case study. J Anxiety Disord 2009, 23(6):836-840.

8.   Lakhan SE, Vieira KF: Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutr J 2008, 7:2.

9.   Atmaca M, Tezcan E, Kuloglu M, Kirtas O, Ustundag B: Serum folate and homocysteine levels in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2005, 59(5):616-620.

10.   Fux M, Levine J, Aviv A, Belmaker RH: Inositol treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry 1996, 153(9):1219-1221.

11.  Ersan S, Bakir S, Erdal Ersan E, Dogan O: Examination of free radical metabolism and antioxidant defence system elements in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2006, 30(6):1039-1042.

12.   Bartram T: Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. London: Robinson Publishing; 1998

13.    Sarris J: Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: a systematic review. Phytotherapy Research 2007, 21(8):703-716.

14.   Pittler MH, Ernst E: Efficacy of Kava Extract for Treating Anxiety: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 2000, 20(1):84-89.



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