Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is a condition that was only recently discovered. The condition is rare, and seems to only afflict certain heavy marijuana users. The most common symptoms of this condition is uncontrollable vomiting and abdominal pain.
Most sources describe the condition as “recently discovered, poorly understood.” Most medical professionals don’t quite understand the cause and the sudden emergence of the condition.
For one, many people take marijuana for nausea because it is an effective antiemetic, as it effective against vomiting and nausea. However, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS – actually causes people to vomit.
CHS is also unusual in that it is one of the few known negative side effects of weed, and it’s possibly one of the only negative long-term effects of weed consistently documented.
Luckily for most people who love pot or who need to use it for medical relief, CHS seems relatively rare. Nevertheless, it may help for you to learn more about the condition, how it impacts people, and what the medical community has discovered about it so far.
What Is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Like?
CHS is not just your average session of “praying to the porcelain gods” after a night of heavy drinking. Instead, it’s characterized by uncontrollable vomiting and severe abdominal pain.
“I’ve screamed out for death,” CHS sufferer Chalfonte LeNee Queen told NPR.
Like many others gripped by cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, Queen’s life was disrupted by her condition. She says the pain and violent vomiting would force her to stay off her feet for days. It caused her to lose employment, and led to tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
After suffering for years, Queen lost weight and saw her health suffer. The only relief she could find was in a hot shower or bath. That often caused her to spend hours in the shower, seeking to avoid another unpleasant episode.
How Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome Was Discovered
Cases like Queen’s used to baffle medical researchers. In fact, the term cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome was not defined until an Australian study was published in 2004. The study documented nine patients who showed symptoms of cyclical vomiting. Cyclical vomiting is repeated vomiting that is triggered without any known cause.
The Australian researchers came to the conclusion that marijuana triggered the vomiting episodes. When several of the case subjects stopped smoking marijuana, they stopped feeling these effects.
Further study found that CHS sufferers all showed initial symptoms. Their symptoms included, early morning nausea, a fear of vomiting, and abdominal discomfort.
Many patients that have experienced CHS are unaware that marijuana may have been the cause of it. Since marijuana is known to relieve nausea in most cases, patients continue consuming cannabis or even increase their consumption.
Unfortunately, this habit only made their condition worse. Some people even experienced a vicious cycle where their cannabis use led to more nausea.
The good news for most cannabis users is that if you haven’t experienced recurring, unexplained bouts of nausea, you may be in the clear.
CHS is extremely rare and only effects some people. Typically, CHS is more common in heavy cannabis users that consume weed at least three to five times a day.
What Causes Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome?
The medical community still isn’t sure what causes cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. Many even admit that the connection between marijuana is confusing.
“Why a substance known for its antiemetic properties should cause such a syndrome is unknown,” wrote researcher Dr. Stephen Sullivan in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology.
One possible link is in cannabinoids. Compounds like THC mimic natural endocannabinoids that are produced in our body on a regular basis. Our endocannabinoid system is spread throughout our brain and body, which is why everyone may experience a slightly different effect from cannabis.
When it comes to nausea and stomach discomfort, most people experience relief when they smoke marijuana. The medical community has documented time and time again that cannabis provides effective relief for nausea for people receiving treatments such as chemotherapy.
Another confusing aspect of CHS is how hot water can suddenly relieve symptoms. “One theory on the effectiveness of hot showers states that it may correct the disequilibrium of the thermoregulatory system in the hypothalamus,” suggests a 2015 CHS patient study.
How Can Someone Relieve Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome?
The only temporary fix that is known to treat CHS symptoms is taking a hot shower or bath. The only permanent fix of the symptoms is to stop consuming cannabis all together.
However, one emergency medicine practitioner has discovered a “trick of the trade.” Using capsaicin topical cream applied to the abdomen can potentially relieve CHS symptoms.
The good news for most cannabis users is that you aren’t likely to develop the condition if you consume cannabis daily, but haven’t yet experienced any negative effects such as nausea.
Over consuming cannabis edibles can sometimes trigger CHS-like symptoms, especially when mixing marijuana and alcohol, but fortunately, they’re only temporary.
Those who do suffer from Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome may have to consider giving up one of their favorite habits, but as far as chronic conditions go, that is one of the easier ones to cure thanks to a simple lifestyle choice!