You might’ve heard that weed helps relieve nausea. People have been using weed for nausea for years, after all.
Does weed help nausea, really though?
In fact, the first and only FDA-approved synthetic THC drugs, dronabinol and nabilone, have been used since 1986 to support nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. The evidence supporting the therapeutic effects of cannabis for nausea is well-documented.
Here we’ll take a look at all things weed and nausea…including how it helps and the best way to consume cannabis for nausea relief.
Key Takeaways: Weed For Nausea
- Cannabis may be used for nausea relief.
- Weed is believed to help with nausea because of the way cannabinoids like THC and CBD influence cannabinoid and other receptors in the brain.
- Vaping dry herbs, concentrate, and smoking flower are the most tolerable and effective methods of suppressing nausea.
What Causes Nausea?
Nausea is the icky feeling that often accompanies vomiting. The urge to vomit can be caused by a number of factors.
Basically, the human body has evolved to protect itself at all costs. Nausea and vomiting are your body’s natural responses to unwanted toxins in the body. Vomiting is the body’s natural ability to rid itself of those toxins.
Nausea is stimulated by the area of your brain called the medulla oblongata. Other natural responses like sweating, sneezing and goosebumps originate from this area as well. Like nausea, these are natural responses biologically designed to keep your body safe and healthy are beyond your control.
The cause behind nausea can be hard to pinpoint, as there can be a number of reasons you feel queasy. It’s most often related to external factors, and the body’s natural response is to rid itself of anything unfamiliar.
Some of the most common causes of nausea include:
- Cancer chemotherapy
- Post-operative (right after surgery)
- Bacterial toxins in the gut
- Viruses and fungi infection
- Food poisoning
- GI Infections
- Diverse drugs or alcohol
- Head injury
- Severe pain
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Pregnancy/morning sickness
However, some causes of nausea cannot be attributed to direct stimuli. These sensations fall under chronic unexplained nausea/vomiting (CUNV) and can be harder to treat.
Does Weed Help Relieve Nausea?
As mentioned above, the medulla oblongata is the general area of the brain that controls your body’s natural responses to nauseating stimuli. It just so happens that cannabinoid receptors are also located within this section of the brain.
When you consume cannabis, cannabinoids like THC and CBD show to support endocannabinoid system (ECS) function through their influence on cannabinoid receptors and other receptors (e.g. serotonin), which can make the brain respond differently to stimuli that may contribute to nausea.
In a 2011 study, researchers found that both delta-9 THC and CBD were effective in suppressing nausea and preventing vomiting in rats. Authors of the study noted that this preclinical evidence suggests “cannabinoids, including CBD, may be effective clinically for treating nausea and vomiting produced by chemotherapy or other therapeutic treatments.”
A 2021 study conducted with medical marijuana patients found that over 96% of these patients experienced nausea relief within one hour of consumption. In some patients relief was felt in as little as 5 minutes. How quickly patients experienced relief was dependent on the consumption method. Joints were quicker for relieving nausea than pipes, vaporizers and edibles.
Beyond THC and CBD, new data on minor cannabinoids show early but promising anti-nausea effects for the following rare compounds as well:
Although larger research is definitely needed, many small studies and their authors indicate something huge: cannabis can provide relief from nausea and suppress vomiting.
Risks Of Using Marijuana For Nausea
Cannabis has proven effectiveness against nausea. However, this method of relief is not without risk. Sometimes, heavy or too frequent use of cannabis can make nausea worse and cause frequent vomiting.
Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is the biggest risk associated with treating nausea with marijuana. CHS is a condition caused by long-term cannabis use. Those with CHS can experience more frequent nausea, as well as cyclical vomiting, dehydration and chronic, severe abdominal pain.
At the moment, the only known cure for CHS is stopping cannabis use entirely. However, medical intervention such as IV hydration, hot showers or baths, and a variety of medications may reduce symptoms and relieve pain.
For persons who are considering use for morning sickness, cannabis use during pregnancy has been associated with lower birth weight and adverse neurodevelopmental effects.
While such studies are limited in size and strength, it is generally recommended to avoid cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding at this time due to an unknown full list of effects. Concerned individuals should ask their OB/GYN for any health questions.
Related Read: Weed Strains For Pain
How To Consume Weed For Nausea Relief
We can all agree that being nauseated is awful. If you’re experiencing nausea, you’re going to want immediate relief from those unpleasant sensations.
If you’re going to use weed to help with nausea, you’ll definitely need to know the best way to consume weed for nausea relief. As it stands, some methods work quicker than others.
Check it out.
Aside from smoking and vaping flower, inhalational routes including vape cartridges offer the most rapid relief from nausea. Vape carts contain various cannabinoids and terpenes that have been extracted from cannabis. The most popular for nausea relief are those high in THC.
Vape carts work so well for nausea because of their high bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to how much of a drug or substance is available after consumption. Basically, the more bioavailable something is, the less amount you’ll need to feel the desired effects.
Research shows that vaping has one of the highest bioavailability rates of any other method of cannabis consumption. With a high quality vaporizer, bioavailability of THC and CBD can reach up to 50-80%.
Like vaping or smoking flower, vaping concentrate also offers a rapid onset that’s felt almost immediately. This is because the active compounds in cannabis quickly enter the bloodstream via the lungs.
Dry Herb Vaporizing and Smoking Flower
As we mentioned earlier, however, there’s research to support that vaping or smoking dry flower (joints in particular) is reported by consumers in a large study to be the most effective consumption method for immediate relief.
Like vaping cartridges, dry herb vaping or smoking flower allows the cannabinoids to rapidly enter the bloodstream. Also since people are nauseous they tend to avoid taking things by mouth, which is a more practical reason inhalation routes are more advantageous.
Because of this, dry herb vaping or smoking flower will suppress nausea at a quicker pace than other methods, such as edibles, which must move through the digestive tract and liver before making their way to the bloodstream.
No one wants to feel nauseous. Whether chronically ill or experiencing nausea in passing, it’s one of the most uncomfortable feelings there is.
Thankfully weed can help. With its influence on the endocannabinoid system and other areas of the body and brain, cannabis can quickly help feelings of nausea subside.
The fastest way to overcome nausea with cannabis is by vaping or smoking it, which should provide relief almost instantly.
With quite a bit of evidence to support the efficacy of weed for nausea, it’s certainly something to consider the next time you’re feeling queasy.