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What is Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Marijuana may not be as harmless as people previously believed. New research has found that long-term marijuana use can lead to a condition called cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. Symptoms of cannabis hyperemesis include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Fortunately, with sobriety, the condition is entirely reversible.

According to Dr Jonathan A. Galli in a 2013 Current Drug Abuse Review article entitled Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, the condition “is characterized by chronic cannabis use, cyclic episodes of nausea and vomiting, and frequent hot bathing.” A 2017 NPR article by Pauline Bartolone entitled Rare and Mysterious Vomiting Illness Linked to Heavy Marijuana Use presents a case study of a woman named Queen who suffered from the condition. According to Bartolone, “Queen lost a modeling job after being mistaken for an alcoholic. She racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and her nausea interrupted her sex life. Toward the end of her illness, the 5-foot-9-inch woman weighed just 109 pounds.” The condition persisted for 17 years. Queen visited the hospital three times a year and assumed she must have had cancer.

There have been increases in emergency room visits because of the condition. Mary Papenfuss, in a 2017 Huffington Post article entitled Mysterious Marijuana-Related Illness Popping Up in Emergency Rooms, “In its most severe form, the illness can lead to kidney failure — but symptoms stop within days of ending marijuana use. However, there is no research on how common CHS is among people who use cannabis, what the risk factors are for developing it and how often marijuana for medical use leads to excessive cannabis use.” The disease is not well understood and it is difficult for doctors to treat. According to NPR, “Doctors can do little to relieve the symptoms, since traditional anti-nausea medications often don’t work and there are no pills to prevent the onset of an episode. Patients may need intravenous hydration and hospital stays until the symptoms subside.” Many patients report that the only thing that relieves their symptoms is taking a very hot shower or bath.

The condition is difficult to diagnose. Joseph Habboushe, an assistant professor at NYU Langone, told Erin Brodwin in a 2018 Business Insider article entitled A Mysterious Syndrome in Which Marijuana Users Get Violently Ill is Starting to Worry Researchers, “”As far as we know there are no good treatments for this. Most anti-nausea medications don’t work. The only thing that helps is stopping. And many patients will stop for a few days, and it goes away, but then they start smoking again and it comes back.” Marijuana is very psychologically addictive which may make it difficult to stop without treatment. Fortunately, with a treatment program that stresses maintaining sobriety, a person’s symptoms of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome will entirely go away.

Resilient House, an addiction treatment facility in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, features miles of pristine walking trails with the opportunity to enjoy other outdoor activities in the temperate southern climate. Resilient House offers a stable living environment free from alcohol, drugs, and significant stress factors so clients can focus on the one thing that matters most– sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431