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What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Published
December 22, 2014 11:36 am
December 22, 2014 11:36 am
By Sirius J

Often mistakenly called Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a rare form of cannabinoid toxicity that develops in chronic smokers. It’s characterized by cyclic episodes of debilitating nausea and vomiting. People who suffer from the syndrome often find that hot showers relieve their symptoms, and will compulsively bathe during episodes of nausea and vomiting. Symptoms stop after cessation of cannabis use.

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is different from Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome—though the symptoms are very similar. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is not caused by cannabis consumption.

This may sound scary, but it’s very rare. I’ve known many heavy smokers all my life and have only recently heard of it through research online. People are blaming the recent and increasing popularity of dabs for Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), but CHS has been around since way before concentrates were popular. An Australian clinical study from 2004 looked into the syndrome in a group of 10 patients suffering from CHS, and all were marijuana smokers, not dabbers.

CHS develops in heavy, longtime consumers of cannabis; there is generally daily use in excess of three to five times a day for many years before the appearance of symptoms. A clinical study from Philadelphia, PA states that the average duration of cannabis use before the onset of symptoms was around 16 years, and the earliest symptoms had developed in a patient was after around three years of smoking weed.

People who suffer from CHS often find that hot showers alleviate their symptoms, and this provides another clue for the cause of the syndrome. According to the study from Philadelphia, “hot bathing may act by correcting the cannabis induced disequilibrium of the thermoregulatory system of the hypothalamus.”

While cannabis is revered for its nausea-calming (antiemetic) properties, it’s paradoxical that it causes severe nausea and vomiting in certain people. Due to its widely known antiemetic properties, people who develop CHS will often increase the amount of cannabis they consume in hopes that it will cure the nausea, but it never helps.  It goes to show how little we know about not only about the body, but also about the interaction between cannabis and cannabinoid receptors.

CHS is a very rare syndrome and is easily cured by stopping the consumption of cannabis. This should not, by any means, hurt marijuana’s reputation for being the safest recreational drug around, but people need to be aware of the syndrome’s existence. If you know anyone with these symptoms tell him or her go to a doctor and stop smoking.

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