Updated on April 23, 2024
3 min read

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS): Causes and Solutions

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a condition that causes severe nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. It's a difficult experience linked to long-term, regular cannabis use.

While the exact reasons are still being studied, we know cannabis affects the body's systems that control nausea and digestion, and overuse can disrupt them.

This article explains what scientists believe causes CHS, the different phases of the condition, and why diagnosis can be tricky. Importantly, we'll cover treatment options to help you manage the symptoms and the crucial role of stopping cannabis use in achieving lasting relief.  

What Causes Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)?

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is directly linked to long-term, regular use of cannabis (marijuana). However, scientists haven't pinpointed the exact reason for this condition.

The leading theory is that the active compounds in cannabis (like THC and CBD) interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain and digestive system. This interaction disrupts the normal function of these organs.

Over time, chronic cannabis use may change how these receptors respond, potentially leading to CHS symptoms.

How Does CHS Occur?

Cannabis compounds bind to specific receptors in your body that play a role in regulating things like nausea and vomiting. Prolonged cannabis use may desensitize or alter these receptors.

The condition typically goes through three phases:

  • Prodromal: Early signs like morning nausea and stomach discomfort
  • Hyperemetic: Intense episodes of vomiting lasting for hours or days
  • Recovery: Symptoms gradually lessen once cannabis use stops

How Is CHS Diagnosed?

There's no single test for CHS. Doctors diagnose it based on your symptoms and medical history. The most crucial factor is whether your symptoms disappear after you stop using cannabis.


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What Are the Treatment Options for CHS?

The main goal of CHS treatment is to help you manage the difficult symptoms and to stop cannabis use completely. Quitting cannabis is the only way to resolve CHS for good.

Here's what you need to know about treatment options:

Stopping Cannabis Use

Quitting cannabis use is the most important step in treating CHS. While it can be incredibly tough, your body needs a break from cannabis for the symptoms to go away.

Managing Symptoms

Your doctor will focus on helping you get through the worst of the vomiting. Dehydration can be a serious issue, so you may get fluids through an IV.

They can also prescribe anti-nausea medication. This can help calm the intense vomiting.

Measures like hot showers, which help many people with CHS, and medication for stomach inflammation might be recommended.

Additional Medications

If over-the-counter options don't provide relief, your doctor may consider medications usually used for other conditions, such as:

  • Haloperidol or Droperidol (antipsychotics) to control nausea and vomiting
  • Benzodiazepines to help with anxiety or discomfort that can worsen symptoms
  • Propranolol (a beta-blocker) to manage some CHS-related symptoms in certain cases
  • Aprepitant (an antiemetic) for severe nausea
  • Capsaicin cream, applied to the stomach, can sometimes provide temporary relief from pain and discomfort


If your symptoms are severe or you can't keep fluids down, a hospital stay might be necessary to provide more intensive treatment and monitor your condition for improvement. 

In some cases, additional tests may be conducted to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

Therapies and Treatment Programs

If you're struggling with cannabis dependence, don't be afraid to seek help. Therapy, support groups, and treatment programs can help you successfully quit.

Your doctor can explain this condition in more detail and why stopping cannabis is so crucial for preventing it from happening again. While Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) can be a very difficult experience, it's important to remember that it's treatable.

The first step is the hardest⁠—stopping cannabis use. The recovery process might feel overwhelming but know that support is available. You can manage the symptoms and break free from the cycle of cannabis use. 

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Updated on April 23, 2024

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