A side effect of regular marijuana use may be on the rise in the U.S. but can be eased by having a hot shower, according to a new study.
The condition, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), causes nausea and cyclic vomiting in heavy marijuana users, and this study suggests that it may be more common than previously thought, The New York Times reported.
Researchers interviewed 2,127 adult patients, 50 and younger, at Bellevue hospital in New York City and found that 155 patients said they smoked marijuana at least 20 days a month.
Fifty-one of those heavy pot users said that over the past six months they had suffered nausea and vomiting that was relieved by having hot showers, according to the study in the journal Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology.
Based on their findings, the researchers calculated that as many as 2.7 million of the 8.3 million Americans known to smoke marijuana daily or nearly every day may have at least occasional bouts of CHS, The Times reported.
“The big news is that it’s not a couple of thousand people who are affected — it’s a couple million people,” said study lead author Dr. Joseph Habboushe, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at N.Y.U. Langone/Bellevue Medical Center.
Emergency room doctors say as marijuana use has increased, they’ve seen a rise in the number of patients with symptoms of CHS.
“After marijuana was legalized in Colorado, we had a doubling in the number of cases of cyclic vomiting syndrome we saw,” and many were likely associated with marijuana use, Dr. Cecilia Sorensen, an emergency room doctor at University of Colorado Hospital at the Anschutz medical campus in Aurora who has studied CHS, told The Times.
“CHS went from being something we didn’t know about and never talked about to a very common problem over the last five years,” Dr. Eric Lavonas, director of emergency medicine at Denver Health and a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, told The Times.
But some doubt that CHS is on the rise among pot users.
Even as more Americans use marijuana, “this phenomenon is comparatively rare and seldom is reported” and affects only “a small percentage of people,” Paul Armentano, the deputy director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told The Times.
Several doctors who regularly prescribe medical marijuana said they have not seen CHS in their patients, but noted that most of the compounds they prescribe contain very low amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC.