What Is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)? How Is It Treated?

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a rare sickness. It happens mostly in individuals who consume a lot of marijuana. CHS causes severe vomiting. The person feels very sick and throws out often. This occurs because marijuana alters the function of the brain and stomach.

There are three stages of CHS. First, you feel sick in the morning and have stomach pain. Then, the vomiting gets terrible. Finally, when you stop consuming marijuana, you start to get better. To fix CHS, the best way is to stop consuming marijuana. If you keep using it, the vomiting won’t stop.

Marijuanas Role In CHS

Marijuana has many compounds, such as THC, that bind to particular receptors in the brain and stomach. Though they make consumers high, such interactions also negatively affect the digestive tract. Repeating marijuana consumption changes the response of the gastrointestinal tract gradually and may also lead to CHS.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Treatment

Who Gets CHS

CHS is most commonly reported among young adults, a group that statistically represents the highest rate of marijuana use in the US. However, not every individual habitual user develops CHS; it typically emerges in those who have used marijuana daily for several years.

The Causes Behind CHS

While marijuana is known for its anti-nausea properties, especially in chemotherapy patients, it paradoxically can induce nausea and vomiting in the digestive tract over prolonged usage. The exact reason why CHS affects only some heavy users remains unclear.

Symptoms And Stages Of CHS

CHS symptoms, divided into three stages, include:

  • Prodromal phase: Morning nausea and abdominal pain are typical, with normal eating patterns often maintained.
  • Hypermetric phase: This stage is marked by resistant nausea, repeated vomiting, abdominal pain, and potential dehydration.
  • Recovery phase: Symptoms recede, and normal eating resumes. This phase varies in duration.

Diagnosing CHS

CHS diagnosis involves a thorough medical history, physical examination, and various tests to exclude other causes of vomiting. Due to its relatively recent identification, CHS can be misdiagnosed as cyclical vomiting syndrome or other similar conditions.

Treatment Approaches

Treatment for CHS may include:

  • Hospitalization for severe cases: Hospital admission is necessary in extreme cases of CHS; this is especially true for individuals who can’t stop vomiting and are unable to eat or drink. Hospitalization allows for close monitoring and appropriate treatment.
  • Intravenous Fluids For Dehydration: Dehydration is a significant concern with CHS due to excessive vomiting. In such situations, doctors administer fluids directly into the bloodstream through an IV. This method quickly refills the body’s fluids and essential electrolytes.
  • Anti-Vomiting Medications And Pain Relief: The constant vomiting due to CHS can be pretty distressing. To combat this, doctors often prescribe medications known as antiemetics. These are effective in reducing nausea and the urge to vomit. Pain relievers are also given to manage abdominal discomfort, a frequent symptom of CHS.
  • Use of Showers and Capsaicin Cream for Symptom Relief: Many CHS patients experience that hot showers offer temporary relief. The heat might help distract the brain from feelings of nausea and pain. Similarly, capsaicin cream, derived from chili peppers, can be applied to the skin for a soothing effect. Allied on the abdomen may ease nausea by affecting skin pain receptors.

Potential Complications

Untreated CHS can lead to severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and, in rare cases, more serious complications like seizures or kidney failure.

Prevention Strategies

The most effective prevention method is avoiding the consumption of marijuana. Recognizing marihuana as the underlying cause is crucial, especially for long-term users.

When To Seek Medical Help

Consult a healthcare provider if you experience severe vomiting lasting more than a day.

Key Takeaways

  • CHS is induced by long-term marijuana use.
  • Early diagnosis is vital, and full recovery requires abstaining from marijuana.
  • Hot showers provide temporary symptom relief.
  • Reuse of marijuana typically results in symptoms recurrence.


To summarize, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a rare yet severe condition. It primarily affects frequent, long-term marijuana users. Intense vomiting episodes mark it and progress through three distinct stages: prodromal, hyperemesis, and recovery. Treatment for CHS  includes various medical interventions, ranging from hospitalization for severe cases to hydration therapy, anti-vomiting medication, and symptom relief through hot showers and capsaicin cream. The most crucial aspect of both treating and preventing CHS, however, is to stop marijuana consumption entirely. Continuing marijuana consumption can lead to symptom recurrence and severe health risks.

About the Author

Nicole Carter is a dedicated and passionate nutritionist, committed to helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals through the power of proper nutrition. With a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science and years of practical experience.

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