Are you Throwing up After Smoking Weed? It May be Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

Recently, there has been a growing number of patients, especially in states where medical marijuana is legal who are being admitted to Emergency Rooms because they are violently throwing up after smoking weed.
The cause is a little known and mysterious marijuana-related illness that has only recently been gaining the attention of the medical community named Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, (also known as cannabis hyperemesis syndrome) which can cause cyclical vomiting from weed. While Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a relatively rare condition, there is evidence that it may be a side effect of smoking marijuana that people who have been smoking weed heavily for several years may suffer from.

What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?
Also commonly referred to as CHS, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is believed to be caused when the Cannabinoid from you get from smoking marijuana can disrupt your brain’s neurotransmitters as well as your gastrointestinal tract. Which is believed to possibly be the cause of the abdominal pain and severe and frequent vomiting and nausea that happens when you are suffering from an acute case of CHS. However, the exact cause of CHS is still unclear and while most of the studies that have been done on CHS so far have confirmed that it exists. There still needs to be much more research done as to why it occurs in the first place.

So am I at Risk of Throwing up After Smoking Weed?
CHS was first discovered during an Australian study that was conducted in 2004. According to the study, which was conducted only on people who were smoking weed heavily on a daily basis. “chronic cannabis abuse predated the onset of the cyclical vomiting illness”. The authors of the study went on to say “We conclude that chronic cannabis abuse was the cause of the cyclical vomiting illness in all cases, including the previously described case of psychogenic vomiting.”
While there still needs to be a lot more empirical research done on the exact causes and side effects of CHS. It does seem clear that people who are daily smokers of weed, especially higher THC strains or also smoke more potent concentrates such as “dabs” are the most likely to potentially suffer from CHS.

Risks of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

Severe Dehydration from Cyclical Vomiting
Of one the most common risks from CHS is becoming severely dehydrated. This is because of the chronic vomiting that makes it nearly impossible to keep any kind of liquid down such as water or an electrolyte-rich sports drink. This is also why if you are suffering from acute CHS, you should always seek medical attention because you may need to be rehydrated with an IV drip if you are not able to keep any liquids down.

Kidney and Renal failure
According to this research paper, because of the severe dehydration that often happens to people who are suffered from CHS. One of the side effects can be possible Acute Renal or Kidney Failure. This usually happens after you have been suffering from CHS which is another important reason why you should seek medical attention and possibly be hospitalized while you’re recovering.
cannabinoid hyperemesis acute renal failure (CHARF)

Severe Abdominal Pain
According to Dr. John Richards, an emergency medicine physician, and professor at UC Davis. One of the most commonly reported, and most painful side effects of CHS is severe and almost unbearable abdominal pain According to Dr. Richards when asked to describe some patients who are admitted for CHS he replied “They keep moaning, shouting and yelling after they vomit. It’s very dramatic. It sounds like someone is dying,” Yikes! That does not sound fun.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Symptoms and Stages

While everyone’s Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome symptoms are different, according to most of the literature, CHS is can be broken into three phases.

Prodromal Phase
This stage of CHS usually starts a few months or years after you have been regularly smoking marijuana on a daily basis. The early symptoms of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome usually consist of.

Suffering from Morning Sickness

  • Being afraid of becoming nauseous and vomiting
  • Mild to increasingly severe abdominal pain and discomfort

Hyperemetic Phase
This is the most painful of the stages that sufferers of CHS will experience. It is also highly recommended that because the physical effects of the constant throwing up after smoking weed that CHS causes if you are experiencing these symptoms then seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible. If left untreated, it may cause even more severe damage to your health. The most commonly reported symptoms are below.

  • Severe vomiting and puking, sometimes five or more times per hour
  • Feelings of constant nausea and being afraid of vomiting
  • Severe stomach pains
  • Inability to keep down liquids which leads to dehydration
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Frequent hot showers or baths

While the last symptom may seem odd, there is actually evidence suggesting that hot baths and showers will actually help alleviate the symptoms of CHS, even if only temporarily.
According to a medical review paper which stated “It is important to note that the compulsion to take frequent hot showers or baths displayed in patients with cannabinoid hyperemesis is not psychiatric in origin. It is a learned behavior, which has been found to be absent in patients with the first few episodes of illness, but once established rapidly becomes a compulsion (7). Symptomatic relief, with the alleviation of nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, is temperature dependent, with the greatest effect with hotter water. Indeed, there are reports in the literature of patients scalding themselves in an attempt to get the water as hot as possible (7). It has been proposed that the thermoregulatory role of endocannabinoids may be responsible for this peculiar feature (9). Two proposed mechanisms are that the brain may react to changes in core body temperature due to the dose-dependent hypothermic effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive component of cannabinoid) (10). Alternatively, the bathing behavior may be a result of direct CB1 receptor activation in the hypothalamus by delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or another active compound and may not necessarily be a response to changes in core body temperature (9).”

Recovery Phase
While some remedies such as hot showers and using capsaicin creams on your stomach will help to temporarily reduce the suffering from constantly throwing up after smoking weed. The only remedy that has been proven to work so far is completely giving up smoking marijuana. While CHS will affect people differently and you may be able to just reduce the amount of weed you smoke, is it really worth it? Maybe just consider not violently puking after smoking weed one of the many small benefits you will start to experience when you give up marijuana for good.

Final Thoughts

As more and more states across the country continue to make marijuana more easily accessible it is important to always educate yourself and learn the facts about what you’re putting into your body. For many people suffering from chronic illness and pain, medical marijuana has truly been a blessing. Yet for the vast majority of the rest of us, it is something that is or was done solely for pleasure. While in general most things in moderation aren’t bad for you, if you abuse marijuana over an extended period of time, its side effects can be very real and very painful.

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