Nausea and Medical Cannabis

Medicinal cannabis has shown effectiveness in treating nausea when used under medical supervision.

What Is Nausea?

Basically, nausea describes the feeling of unease or the sense of discomfort a person has in their stomach often followed by a strong desire to vomit. Nausea is a precursor to vomiting.

There are a lot of reasons why a person may experience nausea. Therefore, it is not described as a disease but instead as a nonspecific symptom. Some reasons for nausea can include stomach infection, severe headaches such as migraines, food poisoning, serious pain, the early stages of pregnancy, viral infections, the ingestion of poisons or chemical toxins, and emotional stress or fear.

What Are the Common Causes of Nausea?

  • Nausea gravidarum, more commonly known as morning sickness, causes a woman to vomit during the early stages of her pregnancy.
  • Nausea and vomiting are also symptoms of cancer therapy.

While there are multiple causes for nausea, they all stem from a problem with one of the three following parts of the body:

  1. The nervous system (the brain and spinal fluid)
  2. Organs in the pelvic and abdominal area
  3. Damage to the inner ear

The Brain and Spinal Fluid

There is an extensive list of infirmities connected to the brain or spinal fluid that include nausea as one of their symptoms. Some of these sicknesses include the following:

  • Migraines
  • Tumors in the brain
  • Stroke
  • Meningitis
  • Headaches that stem from tension

Pelvic and Abdominal Organs

Diseases and conditions that affect the stomach and the organs around the stomach and diseases affecting the organs in the pelvic area are most commonly linked to nausea. Some of these would include the following:

  • Menstruation
  • Gall Bladder disease
  • An obstructed or extended stomach
  • An obstruction or extension of the intestine
  • Hepatitis
  • GERD
  • Irritation of the stomach and the intestinal lining
  • Viral gastroenteritis
  • Kidney disease

Inner Ear Problems

A person who has problems with their inner ear will experience nausea in connection with a sense of vertigo. Inner ear conditions linked to nausea include the following:

  • Motion sickness
  • Benign positional vertigo. This common form of vertigo causes patients to feel as if they are spinning when they move their head.
  • Labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection caused by viruses. It will affect a patient’s ability to balance and will affect their hearing.

Psychological Causes of Nausea

Psychological causes of nausea can include mental illness and are usually linked to one of the following symptoms:

  • Anorexia or bulimia nervosa
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Extreme social phobias
  • Anxiety and depression

Why Include Medical Cannabis to Treat Nausea?

More than three decades of research support the use of medical cannabis for managing nausea.  In 1999, the Institute of Medicine noted that

“In patients already experiencing severe nausea or vomiting, pills are generally ineffective, because of the difficulty in swallowing or keeping a pill down and slow onset of the drug effect.  Thus, an inhalation (preferably not smoking) cannabinoid drug delivery system would be advantageous for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea.”

Nausea management with medical cannabis requires only a small dose of inhaled or vaporized cannabis products.  Medical cannabis has been shown to reduce not only nausea but also symptoms that are common amongst patients experiencing nausea resulting from radiation treatment, HIV/AIDS antiretroviral medications and chemotherapy, as well as medical conditions that cause nausea.

Clinical studies and patient surveys show that medical cannabis increases appetite in patients suffering from wasting and unwanted weight loss.  Sleep patterns improve, and stress levels decrease.  Patients also experience fewer episodes of vomiting.

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