What is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome?

Where cannabis has been legalised for recreational use, there is often a lack of laws around how much can be consumed. This is true for volumes and frequency. Whether or not daily use leads to health problems and addiction has been a much contested issue, however conditions such as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome can’t be denied. 

What is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS)?

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is a condition that causes repeated and severe bouts of vomiting. It is a condition that occurs in long-term users of marijuana who consume the drug every day. One study suggests that, based on its findings, approximately 2.75 million Americans may suffer annually from a phenomenon similar to CHS.

It is caused by a reaction between the active substances in cannabis, such as THC, and molecules in the brain and the digestive tract. As the molecules in each area begin to bind to the active substances, the messages that are sent around the body begin to change. 

Doesn’t cannabis minimise nausea and related symptoms?

Marijuana is often used in medical cases where patients don’t respond to the standard variety of treatment. This is particularly true in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and struggling to control their sickness. However, in long-term recreational use, the results can be a little different. 

The repeated use of cannabis can actually encourage the receptors in the brain to stop responding. That’s why in cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome the impact is actually the opposite. The brain no longer sends messages to the digestive tract to ease nausea. Instead, it can cause repeated vomiting. 

What are the symptoms of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome?

Vomiting is obviously a clear symptom of the condition, but there are other symptoms that come into play at different times. The symptoms take place during two phases.

Prodromal phase:

-Early morning sickness
-Abdominal pain

Hyperemetic phase:

– Constant nausea
– Stomach cramps
– Loss of appetite
– Weight loss
– Dehydration

How is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome diagnosed?

As vomiting is associated with so many different illnesses, individuals need to seek a diagnosis from a healthcare provider. They will often carry out a number of tests to eliminate any other types of conditions including pregnanes, anemia, and general infection.

Tests could include blood tests, urine analysis, and CT scans. Generally, someone who specialises in the digestive tract will be able to make the diagnosis. However, the individual with symptoms of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome would be expected to give up marijuana to see whether it is the cause of the issues. 

Can cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome be cured? 

Depending on the severity of the case, a number of things might be required to help an individual reach the recovery stage. These could include IV fluid replacement, pain relief, and medicines that minimise nausea. With the help of these, symptoms should begin to disappear. 

For the repeated bouts of severe vomiting to disappear completely, however, the individual needs to completely stop using marijuana. For those that find it particularly difficult to quit, therapy could help. Even the consumption of edibles or CBD-based wellness products should be avoided to stop the issue from recurring. 

Want to find out more about the pros and cons of consuming marijuana? Follow The Leaf Desk to find out more!