Here is a fun exercise to do with your friends when you are sitting around and you have a few minutes to kill – ask whether cannabis causes nausea or stops it, then sit back and listen to the ensuing discussion. If your friends are like most other people, the resulting dialogue will be fascinating.
So, what’s the answer? Does cannabis cause nausea or stop it? It can do both. However, don’t freak out. What appears to be a dichotomy with no resolution is pretty easily understood by digging into how the endocannabinoid system works.
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system that contributes to the regulation of numerous body functions. It functions within the greater central nervous system, relying heavily on messages being sent to and from the brain. Endocannabinoid molecules carry those messages.
When Cannabis Causes Nausea
Cannabis is not normally thought of as a substance that causes nausea. But it can and does. Though scientists haven’t figured out exactly why, there are several theories now being studied. One of them is the biphasic theory.
Almost all drugs exhibit biphasic properties, which is to say they are capable of producing opposite effects in different people. It could very well be that the same biological property that allows cannabis to relieve nausea in some people also causes nausea in others. Any single cannabinoid being biphasic in nature would not be a surprise to medical doctors or biologists.
Another theory suggests that cannabis use in some people leads to improper regulation of other body functions having to do with the gastrointestinal system. If this is the case, gastrointestinal changes could lead to nausea.
A third theory suggests that excessive consumption can desensitize cannabinoid receptors. If that’s true, people using cannabis to relieve nausea could eventually get to the point where the drug no longer works. In such a case, nausea could easily be exacerbated.
Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome
It should be noted that patients who use cannabis heavily over long periods of time are known to report symptoms of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). This syndrome is characterized by cyclical bouts of nausea and vomiting that can last for days. Though CHS can usually be relieved in the short term by taking a hot shower, the syndrome can be fatal. The only known cure is to stop using cannabis completely.
When Cannabis Relieves Nausea
According to Utahmarijuana.org, nausea is a symptom of some other problem. It can be caused by a seemingly endless number of things ranging from migraines to hormonal changes and spoiled food. The direct cause doesn’t seem to matter much in terms of treating nausea with cannabis.
Getting back to the endocannabinoid system for just one minute, one of the things it regulates is nausea. From a biological standpoint, nausea is a warning sign that something is wrong. Let us say the body recognizes that spoiled food has been eaten. It triggers the endocannabinoid system to induce nausea as a warning sign.
That being the case, it stands to reason that impeding the endocannabinoid system’s ability to send nausea messages would relieve the condition. That is the thinking here. It is believed that THC and CBD both have the ability to relieve nausea by interrupting the right messages.
In closing, it should be noted that some patients who use cannabis as a nausea treatment find relief from THC rather than CBD. Other patients are just the opposite. That reality seems to add credence to the idea of certain cannabinoids being biphasic. At any rate, there is no shortage of cannabis users who attest to its ability to relieve nausea.