Research, Treatment

Everything You’ll Want To Know About Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome

February 11, 2020 09:37 am ET
Everything You’ll Want To Know About Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a rare condition that only occurs in users that consume cannabis daily and for the long-term. It is a condition that leads to repeated and severe spells of vomiting. The effects of cannabis on the body are complex and can display presents its effects in a variety of forms. Professionals are still trying to figure out how CHS is caused in those few individuals unlucky enough to have CHS. 

Generally, cannabis is world-renowned for its anti-nausea and vomiting properties. Cannabis is also an increasingly popular treatment for patients with conditions that involve a lot of vomiting such as chemotherapy

The cannabinoids in the plant attach and interact with the receptors found throughout our bodies. For the purpose of CHS, they suggest that frequent cannabis consumption may lead to a depletion in the receptors found in the brain. As a result, cannabis binds and reacts predominately with the receptors in your gut which then causes the vomiting spells. However, this has not been confirmed. 

Symptoms of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome:

Healthcare providers have divided the symptoms into 3 stages: the prodromal stage (the period in-between vomiting and cannabis consumption), the hyperemetic stage (when the syndrome is at its’ full effect due to cannabis consumption) and the recovery stage (once the individual has seized all cannabis consumption). 

The Prodromal Stage

  • Early morning nausea and abdominal pain.
  • Potential development of fear towards vomiting
  • Potential increase in cannabis consumption due to its’ usual healing properties alleviating nausea and vomiting.
  • This stage can last for months or years.

The Hyperemetic Stage

  • Persistent nausea
  • Repeated vomiting bouts which are intense and overwhelming
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Symptoms of dehydration

The Recovery Stage

  • The hyperemetic stage symptoms go away.
  • The prodromal stage symptoms prevail for a while.
  • Symptoms will pick up again if the individual starts consuming cannabis again.

How is Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome diagnosed?

  1. A physical exam is done.
  2. Further testing to rule out other potential causes. These tests include but are not limited to blood tests, urine analysis, drug screens, CT scans, and x-rays.
  3. There is no single test that confirms whether you have CHS. The only improvement due to stopping consumption will confirm the diagnosis. 

How is Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome treated? 

Treatment includes a short stay at a hospital where you will be subject to the following treatments:

  • Intravenous (IV) fluid for dehydration.
  • Medication to decrease vomiting and nausea.
  • Pain medication.
  • Proton-pump inhibitors to treat stomach inflammation.
  • Frequent hot showers.
  • Rubbing capsaicin cream on your abdomen. 
  • To gain full recovery, stopping all cannabis use is best. 

If CHS is left untreated, it could lead to much worse conditions such as kidney failure.

What you can do to prevent Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome:

  • You can prevent CHS by avoiding any cannabis consumption and use.
  • If you are used to consuming cannabis daily and have been doing so for such a long period of time, considering drastically reducing the amount of cannabis you consume. 

This syndrome may seem very scary, but it is important to remember that the chances of you having CHS are extremely rare. However, if you suspect that you may be one of the few individuals with CHS, you should go to your doctor or hospital immediately. 

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