Nausea & Vomiting – Can cannabis help?

Nausea and vomiting are protective defense mechanisms in the human body, and short-term episodes can be therapeutic, though miserable. But what if nausea is not short-term? What if it is an unavoidable side effect, or chronic, with no relief in sight?

If there is no clear trigger for nausea, a patient should work with their doctor to discover the underlying problem.  This is true especially if the nausea does not resolve within a day or two because that may be a sign of more serious problems.

Cannabis has proven to be very effective at improving three primary adverse conditions in the human body:

1) Inflammation,

2) Pain,

3) Nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite.

Because it’s really more complicated than this, but easy takeaways make for effective education, nausea and vomiting will be categorized with appetite stimulation. They are part of the same mechanism that is governed by the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is supplemented by cannabinoids from outside sources like marijuana.

Patients suffering from cancer and HIV/AIDS, who must undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy, frequently suffer from loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. The image of a doubled over, retching chemotherapy or AIDS patient has been seared into the consciousness of most Americans, many of whom might employ smoked or vaped cannabis as an anti-emetic (nausea treatment) for an ulcer, upset stomach, or in dealing with the negative side effects of a variety of pharmaceutical drugs and therapies.

Possible Causes of Nausea

  • Migraine
  • Head injury
  • Seizures
  • Ear disorders, including infections
  • Motion sickness
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Appendicitis
  • Hepatitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Medications–chemotherapy and others
  • Toxins–arsenic, pesticides, ricin9
  • Pregnancy
  • Heart attack
  • Pain
  • Psychiatric or emotional disorders

The non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD interacts with serotonin releasing receptors, and when given in relatively small doses has been shown to help alleviate both nausea and vomiting. CBD can also be effective in easing anxiety, which can help patients manage the angst of chronic nausea.

THC also works well for many as an anti-nausea cannabinoid. When THC binds to the CB1 receptors in specific parts of the brain, it acts to reduce vomiting. The potentially uplifting side effects of THC can also be therapeutic in this case if not too intense. Creating a more positive state of mind is helpful for anyone going through chemotherapy, or for anyone experiencing difficult-to-treat, chronic nausea.

CBDA, the acidic, raw form of CBD, is even more active at the serotonin receptors, and preclinical (animal) studies indicate that CBDA is a potent anti-emetic, stronger than either CBD or THC. CBDA is the form of CBD that exists in the growing CBD-rich plant, before the plant has been dried or heated. With heating, CBDAbecomes CBD, just like THCA decarboxylates to become THC.  Currently, the best source of CBDA would be juice from fresh, high-CBD plants, but in the future dispensaries may be able to offer CBDA products for patients with need.

For patients who have nausea caused by chemotherapy, radiation, or other identifiable reasons, cannabis can provide relief. THC, CBD, and CBDA all show promise in research labs and have already proven themselves in the homes of patients who have experience. Whole plant medicine is more effective than any isolated cannabinoid, but which cannabinoid profile should you start with if this is your goal?

That depends somewhat on your experience with the medicine. If you have never tried this before, it might be best to start with a CBD-rich medicine that still has some THC in the mix. As you get used to the medicine, you can increase the amount of THC as needed. And if you have access to the non-intoxicating CBDA, that would be a very good one to include.

if you are experiencing Nausea due to side-effects of an illness or treatment, then these home remedies may not give you 100% cure your experience, but they may provide some relief.
What is important is to understand the cause so that you can decide the most appropriate treatment. For example, cancer related nausea requires a different response than nausea brought on by motion sickness.

Ginger

Since ancient times people have turned to ginger as the ultimate cure. Furthermore, studies have shown that ginger can be a very effective treatment for some kinds of stomach problems due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties.

Peppermint

Peppermint is another traditional remedy that has been around for centuries. According to the NCCIH,
peppermint leaves and peppermint oil are extremely helpful in dealing with indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome that are associated with nausea. Furthermore, peppermint oil is recommended for its antiemetic and antispasmodic effects on the gastric lining and colon

Acupuncture and Acupressure

For thousands of years, Eastern practitioners have been manipulating pressure points to treat different physical symptoms, including nausea. Acupuncture is when doctors insert thin needles into the skin, while Acupressure is the process of applying physical pressure to certain points of the body. According to a 2015 study, acupressure to the wrist significantly reduced nausea and vomiting in cardiac surgery patient.

There are many strains of cannabis, both sativa and indica varieties, that are especially helpful for relieving nausea and alleviating vomiting and other gastrointestinal disturbances. The following are some of the more effective strains across the board of indica, sativa, and hybrid categories, but this is in no way a comprehensive list.

  • Platinum OG (indica): An indica-dominant hybrid that provides a comforting blanket of body relaxation while the high THC content helps reduce pain and nausea and acts as an appetite stimulant.
  • Northern Lights (indica): This classic strain leaves users relaxed and euphoric while relieved of stress, anxiety, and nausea. It also helps to stimulate the appetite.
  • Super Lemon Haze (hybrid): A sativa-dominant from South Africa that leaves users feeling energized, motivated, and clear-headed. It combats depression, fatigue, pain, and nausea, but it may not be the best choice for those suffering from anxiety.
  • Girl Scout Cookies (hybrid): A cross of Durban Poison and OG Kush, the cerebral effects of this strain hit hard and fast. This strain will combat stress, nausea, and pain, and has been known to stimulate the appetite. It tests high in THC and may be too intense for novice users.
  • Optimus Prime (indica): An indica-dominant strain that is common among patients to produce a slowly creeping buzz that covers the body in relaxation. It also aids in calming nausea, easing aches and pains, and inducing strong appetite. Can result in couchlock, especially for inexperienced users.