Health and Life

What Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Is?

Cannabis drug

The legalization of cannabis has sparked various discussions about safety and health implications. While many acknowledge its potential benefits we must not overlook possible side effects.

And this article is all about the symptoms, causes, and treatments that are available for Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome(CHS) – an illness that could develop from long-term marijuana use.

1. What Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is?

So Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a severe medical condition. This medical condition, also known as “weed sickness ” arises when individuals consume vast amounts of marijuana for an extended period.

It typically arises from prolonged, heavy cannabis use. People with this syndrome have problems like vomiting, nausea, pain in the abdomen and stomach, and also dehydration.

The long-term use of cannabis is the main reason for cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)  and related substances are among the multiple active ingredients found in marijuana that bind with various molecules inside your digestive system, potentially leading to undesirable outcomes affecting digestion.

Some components within cannabis, like THC and distinct chemicals, could also induce cannabinoid hyperemesis syndromes by linking up with receptors situated throughout the digestive tract.

The problem can be challenging to manage. Individuals who use marijuana always require medical treatment if they want to get better. But keep in mind that if someone is using cannabis regularly, it isn’t necessary that they get CHS.

While it is thought that long-term cannabis users may be more susceptible to Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome there is presently no concrete proof that any specific quantity or duration of use can increase one’s likelihood of experiencing this condition. However, at higher doses, its association with cannabis hyperemesis syndrome was stronger.

2. Causes Of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

The suspected culprit behind Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome appears to be prolonged usage of high doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is one of the primary compounds naturally occurring in cannabis plants. The typical feeling of euphoria induced by marijuana usage can directly be linked back to THC.

Endo cannabinoids react to THC in the body. Overstimulating your nervous system and Endo cannabinoids with cannabis daily can lead to overstimulation.

It is possible that heavy marijuana users could also get CHS, although some don’t. CHS continues to puzzle experts as they struggle to determine its underlying cause. Some theories are connecting the cause of CHS to genetics but it isn’t proved yet.

Cannabis has a very strange influence and it also varies from person to person.

Although many believe that marijuana may be a helpful remedy for digestive problems the research points in a different direction. According to studies using cannabis could actually make issues like nausea and vomiting worse instead of better.

But one thing is for sure people who take drugs like marijuana daily or weekly for at least a year have a high chance of getting CHS comparatively to those who don’t. However, there isn’t much that is known beyond this.

The researchers found nothing more. Though there should be some research that can give an idea about what are the factors that lead to developing CHS. 

There are several vital considerations such as cannabis concentration levels consumed by users; pre-existing psychological or physiological disorders; ethnic background; social status and environmental contexts which can significantly affect overall well-being.

2.1 How Common Is It?

The evidence indicates that individuals who have been regularly using marijuana for a long duration have an elevated likelihood of encountering cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.

In recent research, it has been revealed that individuals visiting the emergency room and reporting smoking marijuana over twenty times per month stand at an alarming risk of contracting CHS by up to approximately one-third. Read more about this here

3. Symptoms Of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

The two common symptoms of CHS- vomiting and nausea. Also, the urge to take a bath or shower. You may feel the urge to take hot showers every couple of hours. Besides this, the following are the most standard/expected symptoms of Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) among patients:

  • Severe nausea
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Stomach inflammation
  • Weight loss
  • Severe dehydration
  • Morning sickness
  • Lack of appetite

Healthcare professionals commonly divided symptoms into three stages. Symptoms differ slightly from stage to stage:

3.1 Prodromal Phase:

The most common group of people who develop the prodromal phase is those who have used marijuana since they were teenagers. Early morning nausea and belly pain (abdominal pain) are the main symptoms of this phase.

There is also a possibility of you fearing throwing up but never actually vomiting. People usually keep the same eating patterns during this time, and some also use marijuana to prevent nausea. This phase may last for a long period of time.

3.2 Hyperemetic Phase:

A person in this phase usually suffers from recurrent nausea and vomiting for24 to 48 hours. During the hyperemic phase, you may begin to bathe compulsively, avoid certain foods, or restrict your food intake purposefully.

This is the phase when people usually seek medical help. People who use marijuana may still experience hyperemesis in the days and weeks following stopping use.

Next, the recovery phase starts. Symptoms during this time may contain:

  • Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and nausea
  • Dehydration symptoms
  • Morning sickness.
  • Weight loss.
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Loss of appetite

3.3 Recovery Phase:

Individuals recovering from substance abuse stop using marijuana (even in small amounts) in this phase. During the recovery phase, you will experience fewer symptoms. They eventually disappear entirely.

Eating can once again be normal. A person who uses marijuana again is likely to experience the same signs.

4. Diagnosis and Treatment of CHS

4.1 Diagnosis

In most cases, doctors diagnose CHS based on your symptoms cause you can’t diagnose CHS based on simple or single tests. Many health conditions can cause repeated vomiting. The CHS symptoms and the questions you answer will help doctors analyze the actual problem.

Make sure your doctor knows how much cannabis you use and how often you use them. In addition, you should list any other substance you use.

You may also undergo an examination of your abdomen and some tests for other possible causes of vomiting. A few of these tests include:

  • Blood tests for anemia (iron deficiency) or infection
  • Urine tests to check for infection
  • Drug tests
  • X-ray, M.R.I., and C.T. scan
  • Pregnancy test
  • Test for electrolytes
  • Test for liver and pancreas enzymes
  • Endoscopy

Many diagnoses of CHS are missed due to several factors. Considering CHS is a new medical condition, some doctors may not be aware of it.

It might be confusing to something else. You would likely need to see a gastroenterologist, who is a specialist in the digestive system for CHS. A person with this syndrome must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Use of marijuana regularly and for an extended period of at least one year.
  • Cyclic vomiting episode after prolonged, high-dose cannabis consumption.
  • Intense abdominal migraine.

4.2 Treatment Options

Even though there is no recognized remedy for Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome its possible to mitigate its symptoms using several methods. To prevent CHS symptoms, you must stop using all marijuana products.

After quitting cannabis, there may be a few weeks of side effects and symptoms. However, your symptoms will subside over time. However, several treatments can help people overcome CHS. Among them are:

1. Heat packs and hot showers – People with CHS often feel better after a hot shower, but it’s unclear why. A hot bath, heat pack, or water bottle can also help relieve stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. However, ensuring that the water is not excessively hot is crucial to prevent any potential burns

2. Capsaicin cream- CHS symptoms can be somewhat relieved by this cream. Experts recommend over-the-counter capsaicin of 0.025% up to 0.1% strength. Still, researchers have yet to determine which power is best. A thin layer of capsaicin cream can be rubbed on your stomach as needed.

CHS cannot be cured with these treatments, even though they help you feel better and stop vomiting. Retaking cannabis will probably bring back your symptoms.

You should seek medical care if these two remedies do not relieve symptoms and also if you are having trouble staying hydrated. An IV (intravenous) infusion is needed for most people to receive prescription medications, including:

1. Antinausea medications- CHS symptoms can be relieved by several antinausea medications. The medications include ondansetron (Zofran) and metoclopramide (Reglan). You can begin taking these medications by mouth at home if you start feeling better. Though keep in mind that not everyone responds to these medications. Other drugs may be required to ease your symptoms.

2. IV fluids – By constantly vomiting, you lose water and electrolytes. IV fluids replace these losses. Any dehydration that may have developed because of CHS will be treated with this method.

4.3 Can CHS Symptoms Get Treat at Home?

The symptoms of CHS may persist for a few weeks after you give up marijuana use. Try a few home remedies to transition to recovery, like a hot bath regularly. The downside is that excessive sweating can contribute to dehydration.

Here are some recommendations your healthcare provider may make:

  • A diphenhydramine-type antihistamine
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can relieve pain.
  • Using capsaicin to relieve pain.
  • Antipsychotic medications like haloperidol or olanzapine
  • Intravenous (IV) hydration if you become severely dehydrated from vomiting.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that relying solely on these remedies will not provide lasting benefits. However, incorporating them into your recovery phase can be beneficial.

5. Prevention

CHS can be prevented or reduced by avoiding or quitting marijuana use. Although you might not have encountered any harm due to prolonged use refraining from or quitting the use of marijuana is crucial in mitigating the risk factor for CHS.

However, if you have CHS, you must stop using it completely. Cannabis abstinence also has some other health benefits, including:

  • better quality sleep
  • improved lung function
  • improved memory and thinking skills
  • Lower your risk for depression and anxiety

Using cannabis again after experiencing CHS once puts you at a high risk of experiencing another episode. Research hasn’t explored whether a specific THC quantity increases the likelihood of CHS developing.

Consequently, without such knowledge, there isn’t any way to ascertain a “safe amount” for consuming THC free from potential adverse effects like CHS.

However, lower ones seem to cause it less often. Lower appears to lessen its frequency, though. Genetic factors may influence a person’s propensity to develop CHS, but additional study is required to make this conclusion.

6. End Note

Approximately ten percent of chronic marijuana users suffer from CHS, which is a rare and severe condition. You still need proper treatment, even if some symptoms subside with heat therapy and capsaicin at home.

Marijuana consumption cessation is likely to prompt rapid symptom resolution – usually within a period of one to two days. For those suffering from CHS, targeted anti-anxiety medications may be useful in mitigating their particular symptoms. Still, the only sustainable solution to CHS symptoms is to quit using cannabis.

Struggling to quit on your own? Seeking expert help might prove beneficial to overcome addiction challenges effectively. Consult your physician about drug rehabilitation programs or cognitive behavioral therapies that could be suitable for you. Additionally, family therapy can also serve as a feasible option.

If you need further support, contact licensed psychologists or therapists for guidance. You can get help from SAMHSA, their services are available 24/7 and in both English as well as Spanish. 

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