Medical Marijuana for Chronic Nausea
Nausea refers to the feeling of stomach distress and may be accompanied with an inclination to vomit. Signs of nausea may include loss of appetite, dizziness, restlessness, increased salivation, and excessive sweating. Nausea may be the primary symptom of an underlying disorder, a secondary symptom that is not the main focus of the condition, or it may be a side effect from medication meant to treat a different condition.
Acute Versus Chronic Nausea
Acute nausea refers to the sudden occurrence of nausea. Cases of acute nausea often resolve on their own, without medical attention. Common causes of acute nausea include food poisoning, motion sickness, migraine, stress, hangover, or a viral infection.
Chronic nausea refers to the lasting occurrence of nausea. Nausea is a symptom of a condition. Examples of associated conditions include pregnancy, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and pancreatitis. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the cause of chronic nausea so tests often rely on suspected causes.
Chronic Idiopathic Nausea (also known as functional nausea) refers to chronic nausea in which the underlying physical cause remains unsolved. In these cases, the treatment is centered around reducing discomfort of the patient by managing associated conditions such as migraines and preventing vomiting. An accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of chronic nausea is important for treatment. It is important to contact your physician immediately if nausea is accompanied by high fever, severe abdominal pain, dizziness, blood in the stool, or persistent vomiting.
Treatments for Chronic Nausea
Depending on the cause of the chronic nausea, some treatments of nausea include antihistamines, drinking cold water, deep breathing, and foods containing ginger. A physician may prescribe an antiemetic, or anti- nausea medication. This category of medications varies in their side effects and benefits. They also vary based on the receptor targets associated with nausea. The families of antiemetics include:
Cholinergic receptor blockers: These are most effective in patients with nausea resulting from central nervous system and vestibular causes. Side effects include drowsiness, blurred vision, and dry mouth
Serotonin receptor blockers: These block serotonin in the intestines, and are most effective for treating nausea due to surgery and gastrointestinal Side effects include constipation, drowsiness, headaches, and dizziness.
Dopamine receptor blockers: These block dopamine in the Side effects include changes in behaviour and movement.
Histamine receptor blockers: These are most effective in patients with nausea resulting from central nervous system and vestibular causes. Side effects include dry mouth, confusion, and
Cannabinoids to Manage Nausea
It may be challenging to administer antiemetics if the physician is uncertain about the correct area of the brain to treat. Alternatively, administering medical marijuana to treat nausea does not involve deciding the correct area of the brain to treat. Studies have shown that patients using medical marijuana to treat chronic nausea endured similar or less severe side effects as those of antiemetics. Medical Marijuana may be used to reduce chronic nausea, even in patients who have a history of antiemetic-resistance. Medical marijuana may also be used in conjunction with other prescription antiemetics to increase the effect of both.
The Antiemetic Effect of Medical Marijuana
The feeling of nausea is regulated by the central nervous system, specifically through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a vital, complex cell-signaling system which is responsible for maintaining bodily homeostasis. The ECS is composed of enzymes, receptors, and endocannabinoids, which are a family of neurotransmitters produced naturally by your body.
Cannabinoids found in cannabis, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), interact with your ECS. Cannabinoids found in cannabis exhibit the same function as endocannabinoids, specifically they bind to receptors in your ECS. In other words, CBD and THC function as an antiemetic and therefore may be used to treat nausea. Although cannabis may not cure the underlying condition causing the nausea, it is effective at alleviating the sensation.
THC was first used in the 1970s to manage nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy. Clinical studies have demonstrated the superior antiemetic effectiveness of THC in comparison to placebos and prescription medication.
Researchers have confirmed that CBD produces strong anti-nausea effects in animals through the body’s auto receptors. The antiemetic effect of CBD has been tested across a wide variety of animals. These studies involve introducing animals to toxic environments to induce responses indicative of nausea.
The precise antiemetic mechanism of cannabinoids is unknown. Cannabinoids function at various sites within the central nervous system. Further research is required to determine the clinical efficacy of CBD alone for nausea in humans; however these studies provide insight into the effects of CBD as an anti-emetic. Other studies have looked into the combination of THC and CBD to treat nausea. CBD-to-THC ratios (3:1) and vice versa have been used to manage nausea as well. It is important to consult a doctor to decide on the proper strain of cannabis suitable to treat your symptoms.
Get in touch today and we’ll connect you with the right qualified physicians covered by Alberta Health, and Health Canada Approved Licensed Producers.