Understanding Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome also referred to as cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is a new condition that is very poorly understood. According to theory, those who have been using cannabis long-term are often plagued with vomiting, nausea and severe gastrointestinal discomfort. They are also compulsive bathers.

According to studies in 2004, Australian researchers noted a common complaint with patients who were using cannabis. They were complaining of cyclical vomiting. They were all patients that had chronic cannabis use. Of the ten subjects, seven of them abstained from the cannabis as a part of the research. The other three subjects refused to abstain.

Those who abstained found a notable difference in their hyperemesis. Their symptoms subsided and they began to feel better. The other three patients were still plagued with symptoms. Only in recent years was this discovered and more research is clearly required in order to understand the condition.

As a result, many are concerned about misdiagnosis regarding cyclical vomiting syndrome or CVS. While the information is difficult to find, stories have cropped up here and there and there are also tales that are spread by word of mouth.

Unfortunately, only those doctors who prescribe cannabis on a regular basis seemed to be privy to the fact that there could be such a condition. Others had no inkling of the syndrome. Since at least 33 million Americans are using cannabis for medicinal purposes, this information could be crucial to their recovery and their medical conditions.

Of those patients who are diagnosed with the syndrome, the trend seems to be that it’s mostly young adults that have been using cannabis for long-term periods of time. In most of the cases, there is a delay of a few years from the time they began using cannabis on a regular basis.

When the condition is reported, patients had usually been using marijuana on a regular basis for several years and they tended to have three to five bouts of the condition per day. There appear to be three distinct phases of the condition.

1. Prodromal Phase

Several months to several years before the patients exhibit any of the cyclical vomiting symptoms, they typically experience the following symptoms.

Morning sickness
Nausea and concerns about vomiting
Abdominal pain and abdominal discomfort
Patients begin to use more cannabis for nausea

2. Hyperemesis Phase

This is the acute phase of the condition. It’s characterized by an intensity of the symptoms.

Persistent nausea and persistent vomiting lasting several hours at a time

Retching for as many as five times per hour
Pain in the abdominal region
Loss of weight

Frequent bathing or showering. This is due to the fact that the heat from the shower tends to help relieve nausea and the vomiting. It’s not clearly understood as to why this works but it may work to adjust their equilibrium and the thermoregulatory system with the hypothalamus.

The brain may make adjustments to the core temperature of the body due to the dosages of the THC. Alternatively, the bathing may have something to do with the CB1 receptors in the Hypothalamus. It’s unknown as to whether or not other factors are present in response to the body temperature.

3. Recovery Phase

After discontinuing the use of cannabis, patients typically recover within a few days to a few weeks. Their bodies readjust back to normal and bathing returns to normal bathing patterns. However, if they begin to use it again, they may relapse and again have symptoms of hyperemesis.