Cannabinoid hyperemesis is a condition becoming increasingly
more common due to the more acceptable widespread use of marijuana.
I learned about it this weekend at the Illinois Homeopathic Medical
Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states plus
Washington, D.C., and recreational marijuana is legal in 8 states.
Marijuana can be a valuable medicinal substance for many people
suffering from various conditions. With that being said, as with
any medication or botanical, adverse effects are possible, such as
Cannabinoid hyperemesis is a cyclic vomiting syndrome and
extreme abdominal pain associated with chronic cannabis use. A
peculiar finding in patients with this syndrome is that the only
thing that provides them with relief during vomiting is taking
scalding hot showers. Discontinuing marijuana is the only way to
eliminate this condition. The initial withdrawal period is
particularly challenging for patients because the hyperemesis
becomes worse before getting better.
As a future health care provider, regardless of whether or not
I'll ever be in the position to prescribe marijuana, it's important
to know about cannabinoid hyperemesis because chances are I'll have
some patients who use marijuana regularly, and some may present to
me with this condition or develop it over time.
Naturopathic medicine could help with this condition by
supporting the patient through the detox phase of getting off
marijuana, and by finding alternative options such as other
botanicals, homeopathy, or hydrotherapy to help reduce the symptoms
for which they started using marijuana.
Over the weekend, I attended a seminar called "Mastering
Functional Blood Chemistry." We looked at several blood tests like
CBC, CMP, thyroid panel, lipid panel, and more. The curriculum at
NUHS has a class called Clinical Laboratory Diagnosis that teaches
students how to read and understand lab reports. It provided an
excellent foundation for me to build upon at the seminar. The blood
can tell you a lot of information, especially when coupled with a
complete physical exam and knowing the patient's chief
Did you ever wonder how labs determine the
reference ranges ("normal values")? Labs take average values from
some patients, probably a few hundred, and determine where the
majority fell. Based on algorithms and statistics the lab comes out
with reference ranges. Therefore, every lab has slightly different
One problem with this is that the people used to determine the
reference ranges probably aren't all optimally healthy, meaning the
reference range values aren't necessarily indicative of health. At
the seminar, we were given a list of functional lab values where
optimal health is reflected. Functional lab values usually have a
narrower range that falls within the reference ranges. This allows
us to track more closely if a patient is trending toward developing
problems before a reference range would flag it as being abnormal.
Proactively making lifestyle changes can improve lab values before
a medical condition sets in (and even after a medical condition is
Two evenings in the past two weeks I've learned how to do male
and female genital exams. When I told my sister about it, her
response was, "Naturopaths can do pap smears?"
Yes! Naturopathic physicians are primary care providers, so we
learn how to do genital exams, including checking the prostate for
men, and doing pelvic exams and pap smears for women. Naturopathic
physicians can legally, in some licensed states, offer these
services to their patients.
Up until this point, we have been practicing and learning all
the standard physical exams on classmates. One of my concerns for
several trimesters was if practicing these genital exams would be
the same way. Rest assured, students are NOT on the receiving end
of this procedure. What a relief! The university hires highly
trained individuals who work with all the medical schools in the
Chicago area. They aren't healthcare professionals, but they
receive yearly education on how to instruct us in proper
positioning, technique, and language to put patients (and
ourselves) at ease.
Using non-invasive terminology was heavily stressed. For
example, instead of saying palpate, feel, or touch, it's important
to use terms that can't be misconstrued, such as inspect, check,
and examine (ICE is the acronym.) Also, when reporting the exam
findings, instead of saying "everything looks great", we were
instructed to say everything looks healthy and normal.
I feel more confident and comfortable with these procedures now
that I've practiced them. Since all the medical schools in the area
receive training from the same group of individuals, I know we are
on par with conventional medical students.
Depression, mania, cyclothymia, anxiety, oh my! I'm preparing
for my Psychopathology midterm, and there is so much to learn.
Why do chiropractic and naturopathic medical students need to
learn about all these conditions? More likely than not, we will be
treating patients with mental health conditions whether we plan to
or not. The whole body is connected, including the psyche! Even
though many naturopathic doctors don't prescribe pharmaceuticals
(whether it be due to lack of licensure and prescribing rights, or
personal choice) having general knowledge to be able to identify
these conditions and provide natural solutions and appropriate
referrals for counseling and is important. Also, many chronically
ill individuals are taking or have been taking medications to treat
these conditions, and they will come to us to address other aspects
of their health.
How does naturopathic medicine approach the management of these
conditions? For every single patient, regardless of their chief
complaint, we address the determinants of health. It is essential
to correct imbalances in the determinants of health to attain
health. Some of the determinants of health include nutrition,
hydration, sunlight, epigenetics, sense of community, and
For example, depression is a condition that conventional
medicine commonly treats with selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs will increase the amount of serotonin
available for the brain. In naturopathic medicine, we ask another
question. Why does this patient not have enough serotonin? It turns
out that the gut produces the majority of serotonin (about 90%). If
a patient has a poor diet, imbalances in gut flora, digestion
issues, etc., an insufficient amount of serotonin is produced,
leading to the symptoms of depression. We would then treat the
digestive tract with dietary changes and perhaps supplements to get
the body on the right track.
I'm calling this record-breaking "high 60s/low 70s, 3-day
weekend" my unofficial Mid-Tri Spring Break! Luis and I took
advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures and went to the
Morton Arboretum on Sunday and Monday, located about 15 minutes
Arboretum is one of my favorite places to get away and immerse
myself in nature. Growing up in a smaller town, I was always
playing outside away from concrete and traffic, and coming to
Chicagoland was an adjustment in that sense.
The Morton Arboretum is a non-profit organization that was
founded in 1922. Its mission is "to collect and study trees, shrubs
and other plants from around the world, to display them across
naturally beautiful landscapes for people to study and enjoy, and
to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance our
It has 17,000 acres of land with 16 miles of hiking trails.
Having an annual membership is worth it to be able to go year-round
because daily admission and parking is quite pricey.
It was a busy day there -- everyone else had the same idea with
the warm weather. We saw people of all ages and backgrounds, some
in shorts and tank tops, and others still bundled up. The stark
contrast between winter and spring was evident, as one of the ponds
still had a layer of ice on the shady side, with geese swimming on
the sunny thawed side.
As my 3-day weekend is coming to an end, I have exams to study
for and projects to complete. My never-ending to-do list was
neglected, but sometimes it's necessary to put those things aside
for some vitamin R (rest/relaxation/rejuvenation). Now, back to the
Receive blog updates by email.
Subscribe by Email