Longtime Pot Smokers, Beware This Rare Vomiting Illness

The only cure for cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is to give up marijuana
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2017 2:10 PM CST
Longtime Pot Use Linked to Rare Vomiting Ailment
A marijuana plant.   (David Deardorff via AP)

The legalization of pot combined with more potent strains of marijuana appears to be increasing the number of cases of a rare ailment that causes regular bouts of vomiting. As Kaiser Health News explains via NPR, the obscure and hard-to-diagnose ailment is called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. Generally, it afflicts longtime, regular pot smokers, and a post at Men's Health notes that the worst aspect of it typically shows up without warning—sufferers start vomiting violently and persistently up to five times an hour, and this cycle can last up to two days. While in the throes of the cycle, those with CHS often report that hot baths or showers ease their discomfort, perhaps a sign that the marijuana is messing up their body's cannabinoid receptors, which play a role in regulating the nervous system.

The ailment has been on the books only since 2004, and thus is often misdiagnosed. What's worse, those misdiagnosed may actually turn to marijuana to ease their nausea, only to bring on the cycle again. (A woman cited in the NPR story ended up in the hospital roughly three times a year for nearly 20 years before CHS was finally diagnosed.) One theory is that increased levels of THC in modern strains of pot, in addition to legalization, are causing the ailment to surface more regularly, reports NBC San Diego. Stats remain difficult to gather and assess, but anecdotal evidence seems to back that up. "In my work, in the emergency room, I see at least one patient a day with the cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome," says a physician at San Diego's Scripps Mercy Hospital. For now, there's only one cure: Stop smoking pot. (More marijuana stories.)

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