I was completely taken aback when I stumbled upon information about Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) in a 2011 study from Temple University. It felt like a sudden and unexpected revelation. For the past five years, I’ve been using cannabis as a means to alleviate my morning sickness, nausea, and intestinal pain.
Reading about CHS made me recall a past conversation with an ex-partner. At the time, he would occasionally suggest, in a somewhat confrontational manner, that my cannabis use might be the root cause of my health issues. My response was always swift and defensive: “Cannabis is the only thing that helps me; why would it be causing these problems?”
One year later, I found myself in a conversation with my budtender, who had gone through the acute phase of CHS herself. Following her doctor’s advice, she decided to temporarily stop using cannabis, and to our surprise, she made a complete recovery within a few weeks. Her symptoms were far more severe than what I had experienced, which led me to realize that I might be in the early stages of the same condition.
Honestly, it was quite a struggle for me to acknowledge the possibility of CHS even existing. It took a deep dive into the research for me to come to terms with it.
Cannabis offers a wide range of therapeutic benefits, and it’s available in various forms, including edibles. One popular option is moonwalker gummies, which you can purchase from an online CBD store. These gummies come in a variety of flavors, making them a convenient and enjoyable way to experience the advantages of cannabis.
The investigation into Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)
The earliest documented investigation into the phenomenon of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) dates back to 2004, when Australian researchers made a noteworthy observation. They noticed a common thread among patients experiencing cyclical vomiting symptoms: chronic cannabis use. Out of ten subjects who chose to abstain from cannabis, seven saw a resolution of their cyclical vomiting symptoms. However, three participants refused to abstain, and their symptoms persisted.
Subsequent years saw the emergence of small case studies that illustrated similar patterns:
- In 2009, a 22-year-old cannabis user in the UK exhibited symptoms of CHS, which notably improved upon discontinuation of cannabis use.
- Two more cases in 2009 met the criteria for CHS, and their severe symptoms began to subside within 24 to 48 hours after ceasing cannabis consumption.
- According to a 2014 UK case study, a 42-year-old chronic cannabis user became symptom-free three months after being diagnosed with CHS.
The limited appearance of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome in medical literature can be attributed to two main factors:
(a) the condition has only recently been officially recognized and named, and
(b) as a result, CHS may have often been misdiagnosed as Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (CVS).
While CHS remains relatively rare in research papers, anecdotal accounts are starting to surface through media reports and word-of-mouth.
I attempted to gather information from various doctors regarding patients with Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, but it became apparent that only cannabis-focused medical professionals were generally familiar with the condition. Considering the estimated 33 million cannabis consumers in the United States, one can only hope that researchers and healthcare providers will delve into the many questions surrounding this condition in the near future.
What are the signs and symptoms of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)?
In accordance with the 2011 Temple study, most individuals diagnosed with Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) typically fall into the category of “young adults with a lengthy history of cannabis use.”
The study highlights that in almost all instances, there is a significant lapse of several years before the onset of symptoms following chronic marijuana abuse. Daily marijuana use is a common feature and is frequently reported as exceeding three to five times per day.
As previously mentioned, researchers have proposed that CHS can be delineated into three distinct phases.
- Prodromal Phase
Months or even years prior to the onset of severe, cyclical vomiting symptoms, patients often go through the following:
- Morning sickness
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Nausea and a heightened fear of vomiting
Appetite usually remains unchanged during this phase; however, it’s worth noting that individuals tend to increase their cannabis consumption as a means to alleviate nausea, as observed by researchers.
- Hyperemetic Phase
The acute stage of the condition presents with heightened effects and distinct behaviors, including:
- Persistent and prolonged episodes of nausea and vomiting that can endure for hours
- Frequent retching, occurring as often as five times per hour
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Compulsive bathing and showering
As for the rationale behind the compulsive bathing and showering, it’s known that elevated temperatures can provide relief from the nausea and vomiting associated with CHS. While the precise mechanisms are not yet fully understood, researchers propose that “hot bathing may help restore the disrupted thermoregulatory balance in the hypothalamus induced by cannabis.”
- Recovery Phase
Following the cessation of cannabis use, which is currently the sole “treatment” option for Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), patients generally experience a gradual recovery that can span from days to weeks or even months. During this phase:
- Nausea subsides
- Appetite returns to normal
- Lost body weight is regained
- The compulsive bathing and showering routine reverts to regular patterns.
Cannabis offers a range of therapeutic benefits and has the potential to treat various medical conditions. If you’re considering incorporating cannabis into your medical treatment plan, it’s important to obtain a medical marijuana card to legally access medical marijuana. In California, you can obtain your MMJ card by consulting with a California marijuana doctor in person or by applying for it online.