Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome: What you should know?

Heard about the condition known as Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) before? Curious about all the things you need to know? Stay tuned to this piece to learn the meaning of this concept. Moreover, you get to learn about every other important information to kindle your understanding. 

 It’s noteworthy that experts discovered this new clinical condition following increasing rates of cannabis abuse. Statistics show that cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. 

It polls a figure of over 16.7 million as far back as 2009. The 18-25 age group uses it the most and each year 2.6 million Americans join the train of users. With 4% prevalence in the United States, cannabis use disorders have risen greatly.

What is Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome refers to recurrent nausea, vomiting and cramping abdominal pain. This mainly stems from using cannabis for a very long time. Consequently, it triggers a chain of painful feelings earlier enumerated. 

Brief History 

Doctors first described Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome in 2004. The first reports originated from doctors treating regular users of marijuana for nausea and vomiting in South Australia. Moreover, they discovered these victims had a long history of marijuana use in common. They also experience a series of vomiting which return every other week or month.

 In addition, Doctors noticed the victims often took hot showers and baths. This pointed out the relief the hot baths and showers gave the victims. 

Major Triggering Factor

Initially, doctors found it difficult to explain this condition to patients who came the Emergency Room. This is because many concealed their use of marijuana from doctors. Moreover, some of the patients claimed marijuana worked to suppress nausea and vomiting. This left most experts in a state of dilemma about its causes and clinical guidelines for treatment. Regardless, certain things were clear. 

For the syndrome to occur, weekly cannabis use is greatly required. However, the underlying mechanism because of several possibilities proposed. It mainly occurs by an unknown mechanism Experts make diagnosis based on symptoms but the condition is present before they do this. 

Causes of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome

Several theories emerged to explain the causes of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome. Many people agree that marijuana has complex effects on the body. Experts are still making efforts to know how it successfully causes Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) in certain people. 

  • Research shows that the relationship is an inverse one. In the brain, marijuana has the opposite effect of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome.  It helps to prevent nausea, vomiting and stops symptoms in people undergoing chemotherapy.
  • On the other hand, it has the opposite effect in the digestive tract. It makes a person more likely to have nausea and vomiting.
  •  In the first use case, the signals from the brain play a key role in causing anti-nausea. However, repeated use weakens the brain receptors to cause vomiting in some users.
  • Certain researchers believe genetics plays a role in causing this condition. This is because a relatively small number of regular and long-term users of marijuana develop Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). Also, others theorize that effects of marijuana can change with chronic use.

Symptoms of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome

After a reasonable number of cases, doctors highlighted different phases. Persons with Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) vomit recurrently. In between these episodes, there are situations where no symptoms manifest. Health experts divide these into 3 stages namely;

  •  The Prodromal phase
  • The Hyperemesis phase 
  • The Recovery phase.

The Prodromal Phase

During the prodromal phase, victims often experience early morning nausea, constant urge to vomit and abdominal pain. Although, many develop phobia for vomiting during this period. They still keep to their normal eating patterns. 

Also, they stick to steady use of marijuana due to its anti-nausea effects. This phase can last for months or years.

The Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome Phase

In this phase, victims experience Ongoing nausea, repeated vomiting episodes, belly pain, decreased food intake and weight loss and dehydration. The vomiting in this phase is often intense and overwhelming. Also, a lot of victims in this stage mostly take hot showers during the day. Experts believe this is a result of the response of the hypothalamus to temperature. The hypothalamus affects both temperature regulation and vomiting.

A lot of marijuana users seek medical attention in this phase. This phase may continue until the victim completely deters from the use of marijuana. Subsequently, this activates the last phase known as recovery phase.

The Recovery Phase

In this phase, victims start to feel better and return to normal eating patterns. Also, they resume a regular showering frequency. This stage can also last days or months and symptoms may return if victim tries marijuana again.


There are myriad health issues and complications which cause repeated vomiting. Hence, what makes Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) different. To make a diagnosis;

  •  Healthcare providers ask about your symptoms and past health. 
  • After this, they conduct an exam on your belly and run a series of tests to rule out other possibilities. 
  • These tests include blood tests for anemia and infection, electrolytes, pancreas and liver enzymes, pregnancy test, urine analysis to test for infection or other urinary causes. 

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is recent and there is no standard method of diagnosis. Many confuse the symptoms with cyclical vomiting. However, health experts confirm their speculations by getting enough info about your previous use of marijuana. Also, it’s more likely if you’re less than 50 years old. Doctors also check if you lost more than 5kg during the hyperemesis stage.

Prevention of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome

The best form of prevention against Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is completely abstaining from using marijuana. You might be reluctant due to constant use overtime.

 However, abstinence blesses you with other benefits like better lung functions, improved memory and thinking skills, better sleep. 


Whilst staying at the hospital, doctors administer a lot of medications to deal with the symptoms. These include;

  • Intravenous administration of fluid 
  • Drugs to reduce vomiting
  • Proton-pump inhibitors
  •  Frequent hot showers.

 However, the best treatment is abstinence from marijuana on all levels.

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