Nausea

Can medical marijuana help patients who suffer from nausea? Read below to find out more about MMJ’s anti nausea effects.

What is 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.

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 feel sick, and your symptoms will typically point to the cause and from there you can seek out nausea relief.

Possible causes of feeling nauseated may include: 

  • pregnancy
  • motion sickness
  • anxiety
  • infection
  • alcohol
  • vertigo
  • medication
  • recent surgery
  • acid reflux
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • food poisoning
  • migraines

Medical Marijuana Can Help

You may be able to use medicinal marijuana to help with symptoms of acute and anticipatory nausea, especially if they are related to the following issues below. 

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 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 provide immediate relief for 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

Does weed help nausea from HIV? Research suggests that yes, 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 nausea treatment for motion sickness 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 decrease in their migraine headache frequency.

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 symptoms that the patient is experiencing. Medicinal weed has been known to help with nausea, motion sickness, 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 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. 

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 increases 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 severe nausea symptom relief.

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

There are a few cannabis-derived or synthetic cannabinoid medications that may help to treat nausea. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the following 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 for treating chemotherapy induced nausea.

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 for treating nausea.

Last Updated: July 26, 2023

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