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What is cannabis hyperemesis syndrome?

What is hyperemesis syndrome?


Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome is a nasty thing. Fortunately, it is pretty rare, but for those who get it, it can mean an end to . We take a look at what it is, what it does, and how people are trying to combat it.

Cannabis has long been used to help with stomach problems like vomiting or nausea. However, has now discovered that in some rare and unique cases cannabis can actually have the complete opposite effect. It is a condition known as Hyperemesis Syndrome.

It was in 2004 that a study conducted in Australia first described this syndrome, being further clarified with the clinical diagnostic criteria of CHS in 2009. Before this, most patients suffering from CHS were wrongly diagnosed with Cyclic Syndrome or CVS, resulting in a number of visits to the emergency room but without a long-term solution or cure.


The syndrome seems to develop in heavy cannabis users that have been using cannabis excessively for a long period of time. The onset of the symptoms may actually be very long; a study done by the Philadelphia PA showed that the average time before symptoms appeared was around 16 years. The earliest that was found had developed the syndrome after three years of heavy daily cannabis use.

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The symptoms can be separated into three phases: a pre-emetic phase, a hyper emetic phase, and ultimately, recovery. In the pre-emetic phase, symptoms will begin to appear, although usually still mild. This phase can last for several years. The first symptoms to appear are usually a fear of vomiting, abdominal discomfort and nausea, usually leading to an increase in cannabis consumption because of the belief that the cannabis will alleviate the nausea.


Next is the hyper emetic phase, which is the peak of the symptoms. It is usually shorter, lasting between 24 and 48 hours during which the patient will sudden bouts of intense vomiting and nausea. The vomiting can actually build up to 5 times per hour and will coincide with dehydration, abdominal and weight loss.

The last phase is the recovery phase in which the symptoms disappear, and patients start to regain weight because their appetite returns. The recovery phase can last months, but because most patients return to their old cannabis consumption, it is only a matter of time before the symptoms reappear and the patient relapses.

Most patients report taking several hot baths and showers a day to very temporarily help relief the symptoms. Treatment with lorazepam or haloperidol has also proven to help with the nausea and vomiting. This is all just to help with the symptoms. The only known way around the syndrome is for sufferers to halt cannabis consumption altogether.

This post is also available in: itItaliano (Italian)

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