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 Association meeting.
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.
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.