The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
Nausea is having an uneasy and discomforting feeling of the stomach with an
associated urge to vomit. It can be caused by a wide variety of reasons,
ranging from relatively benign to serious illnesses. Studies have shown
marijuana is effective at both treating nausea once it’s developed and at
helping to prevent anticipatory nausea.
Overview of Nausea
Nausea is having the feeling or urge to vomit. In some cases, nausea can be
debilitating and lead to vomiting, which means to forcefully throw-up the
contents of the stomach out through the mouth. While nausea is most commonly
caused by viral gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”), it can develop for a wide
variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, medications,
chemotherapy, food poisoning, morning sickness, general anesthesia, motion
sickness, migraines, Crohn’s disease and other irritable bowel syndromes,
and liver or pancreatic cancer.
Nausea and vomiting both play an important defensive role by rejecting the
ingestion or digestion of potentially harmful substances. The sensitivity of
the nausea and vomiting reflex, however, is very low and it can be easily
activated, causing additional problems and impacting the quality of a
For example, nausea and vomiting can prevent the body from keeping down
much-needed medications intended to treat serious conditions.
For cancer patients, nausea can develop after chemotherapy or radiation
treatment, but it’s not uncommon for them to also experience anticipatory
nausea. If a patient has previously gotten sick numerous times following
treatment, for example, the smells, sights and sounds of the treatment room
can trigger nausea even before treatment has begun.
Controlling nausea is important for allowing patients to continue their
necessary medical treatment and to have a better quality of life. Not
controlling nausea and vomiting can lead to chemical changes in the body,
mental changes, loss of appetite, malnutrition, dehydration, a torn
esophagus, broken bones and reopening of surgical wounds. In addition,
nausea can cause longer hospital stays, difficulty handling everyday
activities, lost work hours and depression.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Nausea
Cannabis has long been known to limit or prevent nausea and vomiting from a
variety of causes 5,8.
The major cannabinoids within cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and
cannabidiol (CBD), have both been shown effective at regulating nausea and
vomiting because they interact with cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1)
of the endocannabinoid system. Activating the CB1receptor
Studies have shown that CBD’s effectiveness at producing anti-nausea effects
may also be in part of its indirect activation of the sommatodendritic
5-HT(1A) autoreceptors in the brain stem7.
For patients suffering from nausea following cancer treatments, cannabis has
shown it can provide relief. Studies have found that cannabinoids, including
CBD contained in cannabis, are effective at treating the more difficult to
control symptoms of nausea, as well as preventing anticipatory nausea in
Another study found that THC was also effective at reducing conditioned
rejection and chemotherapy-induced nausea1.
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Nausea
Currently, 19 states have approved medical marijuana specifically for the
treatment of nausea. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New
Dakota, Oregon, Rhode
A couple of other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used
for the treatment of nausea with the recommendation by a physician. These
states include: Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection)
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ effect on Nausea
Cannabinoids, including CBD found in cannabis, may be effective
clinically for treating both nausea and vomiting produced by
chemotherapy or other therapeutic treatments.
Cannabinoids suppress acute and anticipatory nausea in preclinical rat
models of conditioned gaping.
Limebeer, C.L., and Parker, L.A. (1999, December 16).
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol interferes with the establishment and the
expression of conditioned rejection reactions produced by
cyclophosphamide: a rat model of nausea. Neuroreport,
Nausea and vomiting. (2014, September 4). Mayo
Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/nausea/basics/definition/sym-20050736.
Nausea and vomiting – adults. (2013, October 13). MedlinePlus.
Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003117.htm.
Parker, L.A., Mechoulam, R., Schlievert, C., Abbott, L., Fudge, M.L.,
and Burton, P. (2003, March). Effects of cannabinoids on lithium-induced
conditioned rejection reactions in a rat model of nausea. Psychopharmacology,
Parker, L.A., Rock, E.M., Sticht, M.A., Wills, K.L., and Limebeer, C.L.
(2015). Cannabinoids suppress acute and anticipatory nausea in
preclinical rat models of conditioned gaping. Clinical
Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 97(6), 559-61.
Parker, L.A., Rock, E.M., and Limbeer, C.L. (2011, August). Regulation
of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British
Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1411-22.
Rock, E.M., Bolognini, D., Limebeer, C.L., Cascio, M.G., Anavi-Goffer,
S., Fletcher, P.J., Mechoulam, R., Pertwee, R.G., and Parker, L.A.
(2012, April). Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis,
attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behavior via indirect agonism of
5-HT(1A) somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. British
Journal of Pharmacology, 165(8), 2620-34.
Sharkey, K.A., Darmani, N.A., and Parker, L.A. (2014). Regulation of
nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. European
Journal of Pharmacology, 722, 134-46.
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