Pot-induced nausea just sounds counter-intuitive. You don’t even have to be a pot lover to have heard of its anti-nausea properties, particularly for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Yet in some people, pot can induce a side-effect called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). Characterized by recurring bouts of nausea, abdominal distress, and frequent vomiting, cannabinoid hyperemesis is a relatively new discovery and can occur in long-term, heavy smokers.
San Diego’s Scripps Green Hospital and Clinic are coming across adult patients with this unique condition. When assessing patients with cycles of the above symptoms, it was found that the majority had smoked cannabis since their teens and had continued to use pretty much daily on up through adulthood.
Most of them had undergone expensive and rigorous bouts of diagnostic testing and lab work prior to their diagnosis. One thing that all patients had in common, was that bathing in hot water or taking hot showers seemed to provide temporary relief, which can help doctors diagnose the problem in future patients.
Thomas Lee, a Master of Health Administration student at Florida Atlantic University College of Business, noticed that his brother would take 4-5 hour long showers each day. Having first diagnosed him with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Lee ultimately found out by searching Google that his brother had cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
We never thought anything about marijuana smoking because it’s so associated with promoting appetite and preventing nausea.
Ethan Russo, a neurologist, and expert in cannabis pharmacology says,
CHS is rare, so it’s hard to study. And we don’t have the tools to study it. Something over 100 cases are reported in the world literature. That’s not impressive, but that’s not to say it’s not serious.
Additionally, instances of CHS could be on the rise as marijuana expansion continues and potency levels rise.
Little is known about what causes CHS, but the experts agree that it’s linked to long-term, high potency use.
It’s clear that it only occurs in chronic high-dose THC use, mainly in people who don’t want to quit. It is usually in someone with chronic heavy consumption – dependency. – Russo
His theory is that some people may have a gene mutation within their endocannabinoid system. It is also unknown why hot showers and baths are so effective in providing temporary relief. CHS sufferers have to be careful about spending an inordinate amount of time in hot water, however. Hot showers coupled with cyclic vomiting can lead to dehydration and even renal failure in extreme cases.
The sad yet obvious treatment for CHS is to quit smoking weed entirely. The preliminary research shows that CHD goes away completely in as little as 1-2 weeks once smoking ceases. Many individuals who’ve never heard of CHS may end up using more cannabis to treat their symptoms and can end up causing some serious problems.
Since CHS impacts heavy smokers, many tend to relapse once their symptoms have been alleviated. But unfortunately, taking a break or smoking in greater moderation might not be enough since several patients have experienced vomiting and nausea once they picked up smoking again.