In the following article, we find out how cannabis, which is already used medically as a pain therapy in patients undergoing chemotherapy, can alleviate or even prevent nausea and vomiting.
What causes nausea? Nausea is a disorder characterized by a feeling of slight exhaustion accompanied by a desire to vomit. It is often manifested by paleness, dizziness and sweating, and may be accompanied by distaste for food or certain smells, discomfort in the stomach, abundant production of saliva.
There are many causes of nausea: it may be caused by emotional factors, the presence of particular stimuli (olfactory, visual, taste), the intake of certain drugs, disorders of specific organs (gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, renal, inner ear lesions), or even psychological problems.
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There are so many diseases associated with nausea. Because they are so diverse, it is essential to identify and act on the underlying disorder to formulate a correct protocol.
Recent research from the University of New Mexico shows that cannabis offers immediate relief from nausea symptoms, visible improvement in a short time and lasting benefits.
The link between marijuana and nausea
Just as the opioid system reacts to opioids (morphine, codeine), the human body has a different receptor system for cannabinoids: the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which influences the activity of many other systems in the body.
The ECS plays a crucial role in our nervous system by regulating many physiological processes, including the regulation of pain response, appetite, digestion, sleep, mood, inflammation, and memory.
The main phytocannabinoïdes of the Cannabis plant are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). They function similarly to the endocannabinoids produced naturally by the body.
It is precisely this similarity that allows the cannabinoids in marijuana to effectively influence the nervous system and thus relieve symptoms of nausea, among others.
Cannabis is an excellent remedy for nausea: the study
Cannabis has been used to treat nausea for millennia. Although its effectiveness in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea is widely recognized today, its use for this disorder has never been investigated.
A research team at the University of New Mexico has now carried out systematic work. First, analyzing data from 2,220 cannabis self-administration sessions recorded by 886 people using the ‘Releaf’ app, designed to help users manage their cannabis use and record changes in their cannabis use, which enabled them to do so to record real-time changes in symptom intensity.
Almost all patients experienced relief from nausea within one hour after taking cannabis. Sarah Stith, the co-author of the paper, said: “Despite increasing clinical concerns about cyclic vomiting or hyperemesis syndrome in cannabis users, almost all users experienced relief.
In addition, it was noted that the beneficial effects of the plant vary according to species, with cannabis Sativa being much more effective than the indica variant.
The product’s characteristics also influence the feeling of relief in patients, with flowers and concentrate being shown to be much more helpful in this regard than edibles and tinctures.
THC more effective than CBD
The study also focused on the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the latter of which is used medicinally.
THC was found to have a more significant anti-nausea effect than CBD.
Jacob Vigil, another co-author of the research, explained:
“The mechanisms underlying Cannabis’ ability to reduce the sensation of nausea rapidly involve the plant’s ability to activate CB1 receptor responses to other stimuli in the central nervous system, such as the insular cortex involved in ‘interoception’, conscious awareness of internal body states. It is an example of a brain region naturally modulated by endocannabinoids that develop naturally in the human body. Therefore, it is not surprising that the phytocannabinoïdes produced in the cannabis plant also stimulate similar brain regions.
Pros and cons
While the benefits of cannabis for nausea are undeniable, the prolonged use of THC has caused concern among researchers, who have highlighted the risks, many of which have yet to be investigated.
Indeed, Dr Stith states:
“Our results show that cannabis is used to treat nausea with a high rate of efficacy, but there are concerns that its efficacy, compared to conventional options, may induce high-risk populations, such as pregnant women and children, to consume cannabis”.
In conclusion, “all that glitters is not gold,” and the long term, as well as developmental, effects of cannabis, represent a significant gap in the existing literature on medical use.
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