Now that cannabis is becoming more widely available, the use of it has significantly increased. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug (22.2 million people have used it within a 1-month time span, for example). While it is nearly impossible to overdose on cannabis, heavy use of THC can still manifest into serious conditions, like Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS).
What is CHS?
Can you imagine enjoying a nice toke and instead of receiving feelings of acceptance, bliss, and relaxation, you become violently ill with debilitating stomach pain, vomiting, and fever. These symptoms can be confused with the flu, however, there is a compulsion that can develop that separates CHS from the flu… an obsessive urgency to take a hot bath.
Abstinence from THC-rich cannabis resolves the condition. Some CHS sufferers are able to re-introduce THC in very low amounts without a return of symptoms, but others find that they can no longer tolerate THC.
What is the Cause of CHS?
Researchers are still working to pinpoint why some cannabis users experience this syndrome.
It has been speculated that overuse of THC can make some people’s cannabinoid receptors act oppositely of how they are supposed to act. For example, we know that THC is useful for reducing nausea and vomiting because THC binds to the receptors on cells located in the part of the brain that controls these symptoms. Once THC binds to the receptor, a chemical reaction takes place, telling the cells to stop sending nausea/vomiting message. But in CHS, THC causes the opposite effect, increasing nausea and vomiting.
Some people are biased to this oppositional reaction most likely because there’s only a very small percentage of people who abuse THC get cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
How Can CHS be Prevented?
Many of us understand that the overuse of THC-rich cannabis is not effective in treating medical issues, tolerance develops if too much THC is used. Tolerance can lead to loss of therapeutic effects. Small amounts used intermittently works more in the balance as opposed to constantly flooding the system. Frequent users of low amounts of THC are less likely to develop CHS.
Including CBD, and/or the raw unheated cannabinoids (THCA and CBDA) in a cannabis treatment regimen may increase the effectiveness and decrease the risk of any unwanted side effects and conditions, including CHS.