Cannabis has long been a nausea-alleviating tool for cancer patients enduring chemotherapy and its harsh side effects. There’s no question cannabis is a crucial tool for many people suffering from nausea, among other conditions. But what happens if the plant commonly recommended to alleviate nausea ends up causing it?
CANNABIS AND NAUSEA
Popular Science reported last year that many heavy pot users suffer severe nausea, a claim sure to surprise some, especially those successfully treating their nausea with the plant.
CANNABINOID HYPEREMESIS SYNDROME
The Popular Science article focused on a condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS for short. This condition is said to develop for chronic users who smoke upwards of 20 times a month or more.
Among other side effects, WebMD emphasizes the potential for heavy users to develop CHS, referring to cases of severe complications where users have died. While the reports are daunting, it’s important to recognize that two of the cases were “attributed to CHS” and the third was appreciated but not linked as the cause of death.
Perhaps the strangest thing about CHS is the universal cure found by sufferers: hot baths or showers. Popular Science explains that hot showers alleviate intense nausea and vomiting associated with CHS by mediating the effects of cannabis on the body’s cannabinoid receptors, located all over the body. Unfortunately, this means the symptoms tend to return once the shower or hot bath is over.
What the heck is going on here? Researchers still aren’t sure, but they do note that taking hot showers may temporarily provide relief but complicate things more in the long run.
We know that cannabis has a long list of medicinal benefits, but it’s important to recognize that not everyone can handle regular use. For frequent users who experience CHS, the best way to feel better is to simply stop using cannabis for a while.
NAUSEA UNRELATED TO CHS
So maybe you experience nausea when you consume cannabis, but it’s not so severe that it’s causing you to vomit and jump into a hot bath. In a survey of users who consume cannabis at least 20 times per month, about 32% fit the criteria for CHS, so you’re in the majority.
Still, in an interview with Business Insider, an associate professor of emergency medicine at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital said the condition is not rare at all, noting they “see it absolutely every week in [their] ER.” Many people experience nausea after smoking or consuming cannabis without having CHS. But much like CHS, there is not a lot of research on this phenomenon, largely because of the federally illegal status of the drug in the United States.
Most of the advice for those who get nauseous when consuming cannabis comes from anecdotal evidence. Maybe you’re dehydrated and should focus on drinking more water, or maybe you’re letting the munchies get the best of you and eating too much, thus causing nausea. Others say don’t smoke as much or wait for it to pass.
If you experience nausea from cannabis, it may be a case of trial and error. The most obvious solution is to stop smoking. If you want to pinpoint the cause though, pay attention to all factors surrounding your cannabis use. Maybe you need to cut back, or maybe you need to stick to strains with more therapeutic effects.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you experience nausea, vomiting, and the need for a hot shower from consuming weed, you may be in the unfortunate demographic of users who can’t tolerate the plant.
Others may experience nausea or negative side effects from weed without as much severity. If this sounds like you, it’s a good time to start paying attention to the way cannabis affects you.
Ask your budtender for advice finding a strain that may provide more therapeutic effects. Luckily we live in a state where you can legally experiment with different types of weed while knowing exactly what it is you’re getting.