Tetrahydrocannabinol fails to reduce hair pulling or skin picking: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of dronabinol

Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2022 Jan 1;37(1):14-20. doi: 10.1097/YIC.0000000000000382.


Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania and skin picking disorder are associated with decreased self-esteem and poor quality of life. The objective of this study was to evaluate dronabinol, a cannabinoid agonist, for the reduction of BFRB symptoms. Fifty adults with either trichotillomania (n = 34) or skin picking disorder (n = 16) were recruited for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Participants received 10-week treatment with dronabinol (5-15 mg/day) or placebo. The primary efficacy outcome measure was the change on the clinician-rated National Institute of Mental Health scale for hair pulling or skin picking. Both dronabinol and placebo treatment were associated with significant reductions in BFRB symptoms. Dronabinol did not significantly separate from placebo on any efficacy measure. At week 10, 67% of the treatment group were classified as responders (Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement Score of very much or much improved) compared to 50% in the placebo group (P value = 0.459). This study assessed the efficacy of dronabinol, a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol, in the treatment of BFRBs, and found no differences in symptom reductions between dronabinol and placebo.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03530800.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dronabinol* / therapeutic use
  • Hair
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Trichotillomania* / diagnosis
  • United States


  • Dronabinol

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03530800