Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

If you smoke a lot of cannabis and you have classic symptoms; recurrent nausea, vomiting and crampy abdominal pain you might have CHS. Symptoms may improve temporarily by taking a hot shower or bath or more fully by stopping the use of cannabis. Often mistakenly called Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a rare form of cannabinoid toxicity that develops in chronic smokers. It’s characterized by cyclic episodes of debilitating nausea and vomiting. People who suffer from the syndrome often find that hot showers relieve their symptoms, and will compulsively bathe during episodes of nausea and vomiting. Symptoms stop after cessation of cannabis use.

What causes CHS?

Though it will take a lot more research to evolve theory to fact, scientists have a few leads on why cannabis might cause nausea and vomiting. Cannabis may help us feel less nauseous by activating specific parts of the central nervous system, but what else might be happening in the gut itself? According to study authors from Temple University, activation of CB1 receptors (primarily by THC) may result in the following gastrointestinal actions:

  • Inhibition of gastric acid secretion
  • Lower esophageal sphincter relaxation
  • Altered intestinal motility
  • Visceral pain
  • Inflammation
  • Reduces gastric motility
  • Delays gastric emptying

These mechanisms are all ingredients in a theory that is yet to be baked, but it presents an interesting paradox – that THC, when consumed heavily and over a long period of time, may exert anti-emetic properties on the brain, but cause nausea via its effect on the gut.

If you smoke a fair amount of weed and often suffer from the symptoms, nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal issues, then you should find out if your pot is causing the problem. Keep a diary. Write down what you eat, drink, exercise, emotional events, sleep. Abstain from marijuana use for a month. Record on a daily basis how you feel, rank your symptoms on a scale of one to five. There are other alternative choices of medication too, that you can try, non-psychoactive raw cannabis, creams, tinctures and oils.  We recommend lower THC and an abundance of CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes for the healthiest and even best recreational experience.

The fact of the matter is, we don’t have enough research to show if or why cannabis is the cause of these symptoms. What we do know is that there are people out there who benefit from cutting back on their intake or ceasing altogether.

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