Trichotillomania (TMM) is a disorder that involves pulling out of body hair. It isn’t just limited to scalp hair either — eyebrows, eyelashes and even arm hairs are not exempt. The disorder, which affects more than 200,000 Americans each year, is treatable, but let’s be real: traditional medications don’t always work.
In a 2011 pilot study, researchers administered 14 females with a mean age of 33, with 2.5 to 15 mg per day of the cannabis compound, dronabinol. This compound is usually used to treat nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
In the 12-week open-label experiment, scientists collected data from November 2009 to December 2010. All the subjects underwent pre and post-treatment assessments.
The study was one of the first of its kind to examine the effects of a cannabis agonist on trichotillomania and the results were pretty exciting. Researchers used the Massachusetts General Hospital Hair Pulling Scale (MGH-HPS) and measured success by the decreases or increases in the baseline score and endpoint score.
At the end of the study MGH-HPS scores decreased from a mean of 16.5 at baseline to 8.7 at the end of the study. In other words, the 12 subjects (2 had to drop due to unforeseen circumstances) saw a serious improvement in their TTM symptoms and 9 of those 12 subjects saw “much or very much” improvements.
Subjects received an average dose of 11.4 mg per day. The best part of the study is that none of the subjects reported serious effects on cognitive abilities.
In other words, people suffering from TMM may have found help in a very unlikely partner.