Nausea is a horrible feeling. You feel woozy and uncomfortable, and it may even lead to vomiting. Can CBD help?
CBD for Nausea at a Glance
What the claims are: CBD can reduce or eliminate nausea.
What the studies show: There is considerable evidence suggesting that cannabinoids are effective in the treatment of nausea and vomiting. THC has been shown to suppress nausea and vomiting in humans and vomiting in other animals. CBD also has shown to be able to suppress nausea and vomiting in low doses. In fact, people are already using CBD for nausea management.
What the facts say: CBD for nausea seems quite promising, and is already being used medically to mitigate nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
For centuries, the cannabis plant has been used to treat many forms of illnesses. There is evidence that cannabis was used as far back as 5,000 years ago, and that it was first used medicinally around 400 AD. In the U.S., cannabis was widely used as a patent medicine during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, which causes the sensation of “getting high.” But unlike THC, cannabidiol (CBD) is not psychoactive and has been shown to have many pharmacological uses, from helping with insomnia to seizures.
Thus, there are hundreds of ongoing studies, mostly on animals, designed to find the many medical benefits of CBD and identify an appropriate dose for each illness–like CBD for nausea, for example. CBD and THC are only two of more than 110 cannabidiol components found in the marijuana plant.
The way that cannabidiol (CBD) affects our body is through our endocannabinoid system. We have an endocannabinoid system, which has been shown to affect a growing number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs.
Nausea and vomiting are a defense mechanism of the body. Nausea can be caused by foreign bodies like viruses and bacteria, but it can also be caused by head injuries, gastrointestinal disorders, medications, pain, and even by a heart attack.
Especially in the case of cancer patients, nausea can be caused by chemotherapy and certain medications. According to Dr. Stacey Kerr, one key to controlling symptoms seems to be receptors in parts of the brain and in the gastrointestinal tract that produce and bind with serotonin, a neurotransmitter.
Using CBD for Nausea
As mentioned above, CBD affects our bodies through our endocannabinoid system. This system has cannabinoid receptors, namely CB1 and CB2, which bind to the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant, CBD and THC.
The way CBD helps with lessening nausea is by interacting with serotonin releasing receptors in our brains. According to Dr. Stacey Kerr, CBD has been shown to help alleviate both nausea and vomiting in low doses. THC, the intoxicating element of marijuana, has also shown to reduce nausea. THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and acts to reduce vomiting, but it will also affect your brain in other ways.
Linda Parker, Erin Rock, and Cheryl Limebeer published a study in the British Journal of Pharmacology in which they found that manipulation of the endocannabinoid system regulates nausea and vomiting in humans and other animals.
“The anti-emetic effect of cannabinoids has been shown across a wide variety of animals that are capable of vomiting in response to a toxic challenge,” wrote Parker, Rock, and Limebeer. “Evidence from animal experiments suggests that cannabinoids may be especially useful in treating the more difﬁcult to control symptoms of nausea and anticipatory nausea in chemotherapy patients.”
Another study published in the journal Psychopharmacology in 2011 found that CBD in low doses suppressed conditioned gaping (a measure of nausea-like behavior) in rats and vomiting in shrews. The animals were injected with different doses of CBD and given a taste test afterward, then a couple days later to see if the CBD injections had any effect, which they did. The animals’ symptoms nausea and vomiting were apparently relieved.
Finally, a small study done in humans published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that compared with a placebo, whole‐plant cannabis‐based medicine containing THC and CBD gave patients better protection against delayed chemotherapy‐induced nausea and vomiting when added to a standard anti-emetic therapy.
There are currently two cannabinoid-based drugs that the FDA has approved for the treatment of nausea in chemotherapy patients, though they mimic the effects of THC rather than CBD.
CBD is usually tolerated well by most people, but there can be side-effects like diarrhea, changes in appetite, and fatigue. CBD can also interact with other medications, so check with your doctor before trying to use CBD for nausea or other illnesses.
Because CBD is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, dosage may not be as accurate as stated. There have been cases of CBD oil containing THC, which would give an intoxicating effect, instead of the non-psychotropic effect of CBD. It is important to know that you are getting your CBD from a reputable source.
Nausea and vomiting are not diseases themselves, but the body’s natural reaction to an underlying issue, such as an infection, medications, injury, and many other causes. People are already using CBD for nausea and to help with other illnesses; however, studies are still in their early stages to not only conclude CBD and THC are effective in combating nausea and vomiting, but also to identify what dosage is safe and most effective for humans and animals to use.
- The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy
- Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting
- Interaction between non-psychotropic cannabinoids in marihuana
- Preliminary efficacy and safety of an oromucosal standardized cannabis extract in chemotherapy‐induced nausea and vomiting
- Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids
- Marijuana and Cancer