Can Medical Cannabis Treat Nausea?

by Haley Mills · March 3, 2023

Discover if medical cannabis can be used to treat nausea and its associated symptoms. Learn about the potential benefits and risks of this popular alternative medicine.

does weed help nausea

Nausea is a feeling of having the urge to or needing to vomit. Vomiting doesn’t always occur with nausea, though it is often described as an unsettled feeling in the stomach or queasiness.

Nausea is not a disease but a symptom of various conditions, ranging from infections to motion sickness, foodborne illness, brain disorders, or certain medications. There is a wide range of causes when it comes to nausea; let’s go over more on that below.

How common is it?

Feeling nausea is very common. Most people will experience this sensation multiple times throughout their lives. Many things can make you sick, and your symptoms typically point to the cause. 

Possible causes of feeling nauseated may include: 
  • pregnancy
  • motion sickness
  • anxiety
  • infection
  • intestinal motility issues
  • alcohol
  • vertigo
  • medication
  • recent surgery
  • acid reflux
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • food poisoning
  • migraines

Cancer-related Nausea 

Medical marijuana is commonly found to possess significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can quickly help with chronic pain management and treating chemotherapy-induced nausea. Cannabinoid receptors within a cannabis Sativa plant bind to the brain and peripheral nerve cells and help regulate how you see and feel the pain to reduce symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and severe cancer pain.

Medical marijuana use, as opposed to other non-cannabinoid drugs, appears to be an excellent alternative to treat brain cancer patients and manage pain due to nerve damage or chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Its medical use can also promote appetite in cancer patients who have experienced appetite and weight loss.

HIV Related Nausea

Research suggests that HIV/AIDS should be included on many qualifying condition lists in various states, and it is. The Marijuana Policy Project (MMP), a 25-year-old organization responsible for passing thirteen medical cannabis laws in the last two decades, states how medical cannabis can help with HIV/AIDS symptoms. 

“Medical Marijuana is commonly used to relieve nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss sometimes caused by HIV infection or by medications used to treat HIV. Research has consistently found that these side effects are the leading reason patients interrupt or discontinue antiretroviral therapy (ART),” reports the MMP.

 AIDS and Behavior  has a study that revealed results from a seven-year trial between 2005 and 2012. Over five hundred HIV-positive illicit drug users completed over 2,000 interviews, and 1/4 reported using MMJ daily to relieve symptoms. 

Motion Sickness & Migraines

Motion sickness can happen to anyone. It occurs when your brain can’t make sense of movement information sent from your body. In a car, airplane, cruise ship, or rollercoaster, excessive motion can make you feel dizzy, clammy, or nauseous to your stomach. Some people may even vomit. 

Research into cannabis as an effective treatment for this type of nausea is in its early stages, and further research is needed. However, The Journal of Pain published a 2019 study claiming that the severity of motion sickness related to headache disorders and migraines was reduced by around 50 percent when individuals participated in medicinal cannabis use.

Another medically reviewed study in Pharmacotherapy found that 40 percent of people who began medical use of cannabis as a migraine treatment experienced a significant decrease in the frequency of migraine attacks. Anecdotal evidence published in a study by Neurology reported that 42 percent of surveyed patients saw a reduction in their migraine headache frequency which offers promise for medical marijuana for symptom relief.

Vertigo & Epilepsy

Vertigo is a sensation that everything around you is spinning in circles. It can make you feel dizzy and off-balance. Though vertigo isn’t qualified as a disease, it’s typically a symptom of other medical conditions. How medical marijuana can help with vertigo symptoms depends significantly on the signs that the patient is experiencing. Medicinal weed has been known to help with severe nausea, acute and anticipatory nausea, inflammation, dizziness, and anxiety. 

Medical marijuana has been shown to help patients with epilepsy relieve and control the symptoms accompanying this brain condition. Cannabidiol CBD is commonly used for various therapeutic benefits, from treating nausea and digestive aids to helping calm mental disorder symptoms. CBD’s benefits have been shown to have positive effects in regulating seizures. The FDA has approved CBD as a prescription-strength (Epidiolex) medication used for certain forms of epilepsy. 

The FDA approved a prescription-strength dose of CBD for severe epilepsy, Epidiolex oral solution, from G.W. Pharmaceuticals. Preclinical evidence proves that CBD oil can treat symptoms like dizziness and nausea and reduce seizures by activating the CB1 receptors. More research is currently being done on CBD oil for conditions like dravet syndrome, Lennox gastaut syndrome, and others. While there is no specific research about MMJ and vertigo, these results are promising and point towards the anti-nausea effects of medical marijuana.

Anxiety-related Nausea

Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the United States, affecting approximately forty million adults nationwide. This number reflects about eighteen percent of our nation’s population.

Medical marijuana for an anxiety disorder typically has a more considerable amount of CBD, and lower levels of THC, depending on the type, can induce anxiety and panic. Safe access to medical marijuana strains with the combination of cannabidiol CBD concentrations could provide health benefits without the risks.

Cannabis researchers believe that CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to increase anandamide, which directly increases serotonin activity and helps ease fear and stress. When paired with CBD, it acts similarly to prescription serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) by providing immediate relief of anxiety.

A study published in 2011 by Neuropsychopharmacology tested the effects of orally ingesting CBD capsules before presenting study participants with a public speaking stress test. Participants received a dose of CBD or placebo before participating in the trial. They participated in a survey analyzing their stress levels and were monitored for changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and skin conductance. The patients treated with CBD had significantly lowered anxiety and cognitive impairment compared to those with the placebo. 

Cannabis Prescription Drugs for Nausea

Does weed help nausea? Yes, there are even a few cannabis-derived or synthetic cannabinoid medications that may help to treat nausea. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two drugs.  

Dronabinol

  • Treats chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, cancer-related nausea and vomiting, and HIV-related nausea and vomiting.
  • Contains natural and synthetic THC.
  • It can be taken orally by capsule.
  • Studies show that it works moderately well for nausea. 
  • It is similarly as effective as traditional anti-nausea medications.

Nabilone

  • Treats cancer-related nausea and vomiting, HIV/AIDs-related nausea and vomiting, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. 
  •  It is a Synthetic THC drug.
  • It can be taken orally by capsule.
  •  Studies show it works moderately well for nausea. 
  •  It is more effective than traditional anti-nausea medications.

Indica, Sativa, THC, CBD: Which works better?

There are a variety of medical marijuana products that can be used to relieve nausea, such as dried buds, concentrates, edibles, vapes, live resin, and other concentrates. Regarding the right strain for nausea, choosing a hybrid strain high in limonene with a balance of THC and CBD is best.

CBD can help with nausea, but THC is most effective in treating nausea. The prescription medication dronabinol contains a synthetic version of THC and is prescribed to those with chemotherapy related nausea. The entourage effect of the cannabinoid combination makes them work effectively with terpenes and flavonoids. Seek out a cannabis strain with a full range of therapeutic effects for the best results.

Best Cannabis Strains for Nausea Relief

These seven weed strains are known to possess the right combination of qualities for offering nausea relief.

OG Kush

OG Kush, also known as “Premium OG,” is a famous strain that was first cultivated in Florida in the 1990s and then crossed with Chemdawg, Lemon Thai, and a strain from the Hindu Kush mountains to create a unique terpene profile. The result boasts an aroma of fuel, skunk, and spice notes. This amazing Kush variety can be enjoyed anytime but is especially good during stressful times due to high THC levels that help relieve headaches and promote body relaxation.

Jack Herer

The Jack Herer strain is a slightly Sativa-dominant hybrid created by Sensi Seeds from the Northern Lights, Shiva Skunk, and Haze strains. Jack Herer is primarily known for its potent medicinal benefits. It’s easy to grow, making it the perfect bud for novices. This citrus and pine strain also provides energy, so it’s ideal for morning medicine.

Sour Diesel

Sour Diesel is one of the most aromatic marijuana strains of all time. This strain has a unique and powerful odor of skunk, diesel gas, and lemon. Sour Diesel can leave you feeling uplifted and happy after just a couple of hits, making it an ideal choice in the marijuana world for treating mood disorders, nausea, and vomiting.

Durban Poison

Durban Poison originated from Durban, a South African port city, and is sold by the Dutch Passion Seed Company. It typically has an impressive nineteen percent THC and one percent CBD. This particular strain is a pure Sativa, which makes excellent parent strains.

These south African seeds produce an herbal flavor and aroma with hints of pine and sage that make consuming cannabis a tasty experience. Durban Poison’s buds have many trichomes. Durban Poison is an excellent Sativa strain for edibles, promotes creative qualities, and provides better focus than many other strains.

Headband

Headband is a popular Indica-dominant strain known to help with mood disorders, anxiety, and depression. This potent strain results from a cross between OG Kush and Sour Diesel. Headband weed can cause intense bursts of excitement and profound calmness, helping relieve tension, stress, and upset stomach.

Lavender

The lavender strain is much like the lavender plant itself. It produces calming effects, is an indica-dominant hybrid, and has a floral and spicy aroma and flavor. It’s a favorite among medical cannabis users because it is one of the high-THC strains in the cannabis market. Lavender is an indica-dominant hybrid that was initially created by Soma Seeds and is a a cross between Super Skunk, Big Skunk Korean, Afghani, and Hawaiian, creating powerful indica effects.

Blue Dream

The Blue Dream strain is a slightly Sativa-dominant hybrid that provides cerebral stimulation and total body relaxation. With a high THC content and a low CBD percentage, it’s a favorite strain among novice and veteran cannabis consumers. According to cannabis enthusiasts growing blue dream, medical marijuana patients typically use berry-flavored blue dream hits to treat conditions like depression, chronic pain, and nausea.

Final Thoughts

Nausea treatment can vary depending on the root cause; however, medical marijuana has climbed to the top of alternative therapies to reduce nausea and suppress vomiting in an array of HIV and cancer chemotherapy patients.

If you are looking for another way of treating sickness, talk with a trusted provider about choosing a cannabis strain from the list above. We recommend speaking with a doctor before making significant changes to your routine.

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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