Medications that relieve nausea and vomiting are called antiemetics, and are frequently prescribed for patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDs, Crohn’s disease, chronic anxiety, and other illnesses that cause nausea and vomiting. Antiemetics are needed because not only are the symptoms of nausea and vomiting painful and disruptive for the patient, but they can also cause dehydration and poor nutrition, leading to weight loss and other conditions that stall recovery. Through the actions of its unique compounds, known as cannabinoids, medical marijuana is widely recognized as an effective antiemetic.
How Medical Marijuana Works for Nausea and Vomiting (N/V)
In most episodes of nausea and vomiting, the digestive tract produces large amounts of gastric acids, either to promote these functions or as an irritant that causes these reactions. The body’s natural endocannabinoid system includes cannabinoid receptors in the digestive tract, and once these receptors are activated, the digestive tract reduces its production of these acids. These receptors are only activated when cannabinoids find and attach to the receptors, so ingesting or inhaling medical marijuana can reduce or stop the processes causing nausea and vomiting. Scientific studies show that this action makes medical marijuana an effective treatment:
- There is strong evidence that the cannabinoids naturally produced in the body play a role in suppressing nausea in normal circumstances, and intake of cannabinoids from medical marijuana during episodes of nausea can also effectively relieve symptoms (Effects of cannabinoids on lithium-induced conditioned rejection reactions in a rat model of nausea, Parker et al.)
- Inhaled medical marijuana achieves superior results in reducing nausea and vomiting over synthetic alternatives (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol as an antiemetic in cancer patients receiving high-dose methotrexate, Chang, A.E. et al.)
- Vaporized, inhaled medical marijuana is a safe alternative to traditional smoked cannabis, and avoids many issues encountered with the ingestion of other medications, as swallowing medications during an episode of nausea or vomiting is uncomfortable and undesirable (Evaluation of a Vaporizing Device (Volcano) for the Pulmonary Administration of Tetrahydrocannabinol, Hazekamp, A. et al.)
- The body absorbs medical marijuana quickly because it is similar to the cannabinoids the body naturally produces. More cannabinoids are absorbed in inhaled form than in ingested form, since the body attempts to metabolize any ingested medication before absorption. This action also reduces the effectiveness of standard therapies, including synthetic cannabis (Physiochemical and pharmacological characterization of a delta(9)-THC aerosol generated by a metered dose inhaler, Wilson, D.M. et al.)
Since cannabis has fewer unpleasant side effects than other common treatment options for nausea and vomiting and provides relief from additional symptoms that often accompany chronic conditions, many patients rely on medical marijuana to ease nausea and vomiting. Methods through which this relief can be obtained include:
- Traditionally inhaled cannabis, such as through a marijuana cigarette or other smoked delivery device
- Vaporized cannabis, which is heated using special equipment so that the vapors can be inhaled
- Cannabis specially prepared in edibles or tinctures
The nausea and vomiting caused by chronic conditions can be extremely uncomfortable. For many conditions, proper nutrition and a steady body weight are essential for successful disease management, which can be a problem when stomach discomfort prevents patients from enjoying their food.
United Patients Group is dedicated to making sure patients can access medical marijuana, not only to relieve nausea and vomiting and increase appetite, but also as an effective treatment for other medical conditions. Please visit our New Patients Room for more information how cannabis helps relieve pain and symptoms of chronic illnesses.