What Causes Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)?


Table of Contents

Have you ever had recurring, uncontrollable bouts of vomiting and stomach discomfort or found yourself obsessed with bathing? If you experience these symptoms and are a regular user of cannabis, you might be suffering from Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS).

Researchers have only recently discovered CHS, so some doctors or healthcare professionals may not recognize the condition. It is important that CHS is treated because if not, it can cause serious health problems. Several therapies may help control and alleviate CHS symptoms, but the only way to permanently eliminate them is to discontinue cannabis use.

This article examines the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.

What Is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is a medical condition that symptomatically presents as repeated and acute vomiting. While it is linked to long-term, consistent cannabis usage, researchers are still attempting to understand the causes of CHS and why it presents in some cannabis users but not others.

Some of the active components in cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are believed to attach to receptors in the digestive tract, causing alterations that might contribute to CHS. THC is the same chemical that connects to brain receptors and generates a “high.”

According to experts, only a small percentage of regular cannabis users develop Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. However, these figures may not be accurate because it is a relatively new syndrome. It was only identified in 2004, so some people may be underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. According to the same study, up to 6% of individuals who went to the ER for cyclical vomiting had CHS.

What Causes Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Some marijuana users develop CHS, while others do not. Experts aren’t sure why cannabis only produces CHS symptoms in certain people. Some scientists believe genetics may have a role.

Marijuana has a large number of active chemical components known as cannabinoids. These substances attach to cannabinoid receptors in your brain, digestive tract (gut), and specific cells when you smoke marijuana. The major cannabinoids found in marijuana products are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for the “high” that most individuals experience when they smoke marijuana.

When you smoke marijuana for a long time, it might gradually affect how your body’s receptors respond to cannabinoid molecules, which may result in Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome symptoms. For example, cannabinoids may impact receptors in the esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acids to run upward, and causing nausea and vomiting.

However, marijuana typically has the opposite effects of CHS in the brain. Cannabinoids that bind to brain receptors tend to reduce nausea and vomiting.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Symptoms

CHS is characterized by severe and persistent nausea and vomiting. People suffering from this disorder frequently throw up, often without notice, and can vomit up to five times each hour. They may also have dispersed stomach discomfort, weight loss, and seem dehydrated.

The following are typical CHS symptoms:

  • prolonged nausea and vomiting
  • stomach cramps or discomfort
  • early morning nausea
  • dehydration
  • appetite loss
  • slimming down

Dehydration can result as a symptom of CHS. If you smoke cannabis regularly, get emergency medical attention if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • disorientation, bewilderment
  • difficulty walking or moving
  • rapid heart rate
  • fast respiration
  • lightheaded, dizziness
  • fainting

People suffering from CHS regularly (or even obsessively) take hot showers, which helps decrease or alleviate nausea. The syndrome of cannabis hyperemesis comprises three stages, with each stage having distinct symptoms:

Prodromal phase

People who have been using cannabis since their teens are more likely to be in the prodromal phase. During the prodromal phase, you may experience stomach discomfort or nausea in the morning.

Hyperemesis phase

People in the hyperemesis phase have extreme, recurring vomiting and nausea for 24 to 48 hours. You may begin bathing excessively, avoid particular meals, or actively restrict your food intake.

Recovery phase

In the recovery phase, people stop smoking cannabis and allow their bodies to heal. Throughout the healing process, symptoms fade over a few days or months and eventually vanish totally.

How Is CHS Diagnosed?

Because several medical conditions can induce vomiting and nausea, any healthcare provider will need to inquire about your status and previous health difficulties. They will need to do physical tests to determine what is wrong with you.

The following tests may be performed based on the symptoms you are experiencing:

  • Anemia and other illnesses are detected by blood testing
  • Tests for pregnancy
  • Urine testing to detect urinary infections
  • Drug testing to rule out any drug-related issues
  • Head CT scan
  • Abdomen CT scan

Because CHS is a relatively new medical illness, not all clinicians may be aware of it or misdiagnose it as something else. When treating CHS, you may require the services of a gastroenterologist, a doctor specializing in the digestive system.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Treatment

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome treatment is presently focused on cannabis relapse and withdrawal. Withdrawal from marijuana might include a variety of adverse symptoms, and it is these withdrawal symptoms that the treatment focuses on.

Marijuana withdrawal and Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome treatment will include the following:

  • IV fluid replacement for dehydration
  • Hot showers
  • Medication to reduce the quantity of vomiting
  • Pain reliever medications
  • IV administration of the antipsychotic medication haloperidol

During withdrawal, it is usual to experience an extreme desire for substance usage. To recover fully and ensure they do not relapse, a patient will require constant attention and care.


Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is a relatively new illness associated with long-term cannabis usage. Its specific etiology is unknown; however, CHS is thought to be related to the body’s endocannabinoid system. Long-term cannabis usage can disturb this system, resulting in bodily imbalance and CHS symptoms. Consistency is critical since recovery can take several months, and you must be patient and motivated if you wish to recover fully.

To fully recover, the patient must abstain from marijuana permanently. Most individuals will find this difficult, especially if they have become dependent on the substance. However, there are rehabilitation institutions that specialize in substance addiction and recovery.

Haven House Recovery can help you get better.

While symptoms can be controlled, the only method to permanently end CHS is to cease consuming cannabis in any form. If you or someone you know has CHS symptoms, consult a doctor or a healthcare expert. On the other hand, addiction treatment programs or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be beneficial resources for stopping cannabis and, ultimately, CHS prevention.

Haven House Recovery, a Nashville rehab center, focuses on returning patients to their regular lives. Struggling with substance misuse and addiction is a difficult experience for anybody, but we are here to assist. Get in touch with us if you or someone you know suffers from CHS or drug addiction. We provide cutting-edge, compassionate, spiritually-based treatment for all forms of addiction.