When medical marijuana first became popular and legal in states like California, cancer and AIDS patients raved about how useful it was in treating nausea. Cannabis is a known antiemetic, meaning that it helps alleviate nausea and vomiting. However, while many people may use cannabis for this reason, few may understand why cannabinoid treatment is actually helpful.
The extent to which a cannabis product is useful in treating nausea depends on how much THC it contains. Different ratios of the psychoactive compound THC to the non-psychotropic compound CBD also influence how the patient responds and whether they experience reduced nausea and/or vomiting.
In 1982 study by the Michigan Department of Health, researchers looked a 165 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The patients were placed in two groups, one of which received medical marijuana and the other of which received a pharmaceutical drug called Torecan. If the given treatment failed, patients had the option to switch therapies.
The researchers found that 90 percent of patients who received cannabis to treat their nausea and vomiting wanted to continue using it. Meanwhile, 22 of the 23 patients in the Torecan group wanted to discontinue and switch to cannabis. Overall, the study found that 71 percent of patients getting cannabis treatment did not vomit and experienced just mild nausea, while the main side effect was munchies.
In a 2012 study on rats published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers found CBD to be useful in treating nausea induced by nicotine. Another study found that low doses of CBD could help with various kinds of vomiting or anticipatory vomiting. However, it did not find that CBD could help with car sickness.
Nonetheless, the reason CBD works so well to treat nausea and vomiting is that it activates a neurotransmitter that decreases a patient’s ability to feel nauseated. Nausea is more commonly associated with a patient’s head than with their stomach.
To best treat nausea, it’s better to smoke or vape than to digest your cannabis, since the latter likely won’t have an immediate enough effect. Moreover, when you eat an edible or otherwise digest some kind of cannabis product, your body processes the cannabinoids differently than otherwise. When THC is processed by the liver, the body manufactures an enzyme that is not as effective in tackling nausea or an upset stomach.
If you’re looking to treat nausea, yourself, some of the best strains to try include Purple Kush, Super Sour Diesel, Strawberry Kush, or Super Blue Dream.