Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) affects people who use cannabis (marijuana). CHS causes frequent, severe nausea and vomiting. You have a higher risk of developing CHS if you use cannabis at least once a week. Your risk also increases if you have used cannabis since adolescence. The only way to cure CHS is to stop using cannabis.
Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a condition caused by long-term cannabis (marijuana) use. People who have CHS experience recurring episodes of nausea, vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain, with frequent visits to the emergency department.
Hyperemesis means severe vomiting. Another name for CHS is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. Cannabinoids are compounds found in the cannabis plant that bind to cannabinoid receptors found in our brains, gastrointestinal tracts and immune cells. The most studied exogenous cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG).
CHS is more than just a side effect of marijuana. It is a condition that can lead to health complications if left untreated.
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People who use cannabis chronically are at risk of developing CHS. It tends to occur in people who use cannabis at least once a week and occurs more often in adults who have been using cannabis since their adolescent years. Typically, there is a delay of several years in the onset of symptoms preceded by chronic marijuana misuse in nearly all cases.
Only a small portion of people who regularly use cannabis develop CHS. Because CHS is a newly discovered condition, many people may have it and not report it or are misdiagnosed. One study found that up to 6% of people who visited the emergency room for vomiting had CHS.
Experts don’t know exactly what causes cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. Some researchers suspect genetics may play a role. Others believe CHS may occur due to overstimulation of your endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a network of receptors in your body that respond to compounds in cannabis.
The primary symptoms of CHS are intense and persistent nausea and vomiting. People with this condition vomit extensively, often without warning, and can vomit up to five times per hour. They may also experience diffused abdominal pain, often report weight loss, and appear dehydrated.
People with CHS self-learn to take hot showers, which helps reduce or curb some nausea they experience. Many people with CHS will compulsively shower or bathe — often for hours every day — to relieve cannabis hyperemesis syndrome symptoms.
There are three phases of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. Slightly different symptoms occur in each stage:
Your healthcare provider diagnoses CHS based on your symptoms. If you're frequently vomiting, tell your provider about all substance use, including cannabis. Your provider may ask you:
The only known treatment to permanently get rid of CHS is to stop cannabis use completely. You may have symptoms and side effects of CHS for a few weeks after quitting cannabis. Over time, symptoms will disappear.
The only cure for CHS is to stop using cannabis. Hot baths may relieve the nausea temporarily, but they don’t cure CHS. Taking too many hot baths can increase dehydration due to sweating.
You may use home treatments to relieve CHS symptoms immediately after quitting cannabis. These remedies are not effective long term, but they can help you transition to the recovery phase.
Your healthcare provider may recommend:
Most people with CHS who stop using cannabis have relief from symptoms within 10 days. But it may take a few months to feel fully recovered. As you recover, you begin to resume your usual eating and bathing habits.
The only proven way to prevent cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is to avoid cannabis.
If you need help quitting cannabis, you should speak to your primary care provider or connect with your local addiction treatment services. You can also call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800.662.HELP (4357). This free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year service provides treatment referrals and information in English and Spanish.
Research about the long-term effects of CHS is ongoing. However, recurrent vomiting can lead to health complications, including:
CHS can increase your risks for severe dehydration. Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency center if you have any dehydration symptoms, including:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is a rare condition in people who use cannabis. It causes recurrent, severe vomiting and nausea. People with CHS often bathe or shower compulsively to try to relieve symptoms. You may take some medications to decrease nausea, but the only way to cure CHS is to stop using marijuana.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/25/2021.
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