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Medical Marijuana and Motion Sickness

What Is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness is a blanket term for symptoms that arise due to a number of different motions or simulated motions. Common types of motion sickness include airsickness, carsickness and seasickness. In some cases, the symptoms arise when a person feels motion, but cannot see it, such as with airsickness. In other cases, the motion is visual but not physical. This is the case with space sickness. There is even a type of motion sickness that occurs when motion is felt and seen but one is disproportionate to the other. In other words, the movement may be seen as slight and felt as exaggerated. The tell tale signs of motion sickness are nausea and vomiting, though dizziness, sweating and other symptoms may occur. Motion sickness is caused by sensations from the vestibular system, a part of the inner ear. In fact, without the vestibular system, motion sickness would not occur, as evidenced by creatures that do not possess a vestibular system. It has been postulated that the body triggers the response to vomit as a defense mechanism. A good analogy for why this is helpful is what happens with excessive alcohol intake. The poison the body perceives creates a spinning sensation, triggering motion sickness. This causes the drunken person to vomit, thus expelling the alcohol. In a way, motion sickness could be the body perceiving toxins that are not there.

Medical Marijuana and Motion Sickness

The primary symptom of motion sickness is nausea. Nausea is often treated with anti-emetics for numerous illnesses, including motion sickness. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is not enough information to say that inhaled cannabis is a viable treatment option for nausea. However, the National Cancer Institute also states that cannabinoid medications are FDA approved for nausea and vomiting. They not only work on nausea and vomiting but they often work better than the non-cannabinoid treatments that are currently available.

There are currently two cannabinoid medications available for nausea and vomiting in the United States. These drugs are Delta-9-THC medications that go by the names nabilone and dronabinol. The active ingredient -- tetrahydrocannabinol -- in these medications is the same as found in the marijuana plant. Therefore, further testing of inhaled marijuana in regard to nausea and vomiting seem likely to produce similar results. At this time, the drugs are approved to treat cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The Federal Drug Administration has not cleared these medications for use with motion sickness. However, that does not mean that they do not show promise for all types of nausea and vomiting.

Treating Motion Sickness with Medical Marijuana

Treatments for motion sickness include ginger, anti-emetics and dymenhydrinate. Medications used for motion sickness have a risk of abuse and overdose. With dymenhydrinate that can include seizures and loss of consciousness. Medical marijuana has been shown to help some with motion sickness. It may be overused like other medications. However, medical marijuana has been proven utterly safe concerning overdose and emergency side effects. In other words, there has never been a single documented case of marijuana overdose resulting in a medical crisis. This can be taken to mean you cannot overdose on marijuana, though prescribed doses are advised for medical marijuana.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and THC for Nausea

The Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA is charged with enforcing drug laws in the United States. They, along with the federal government of the United States of America, enforce laws against any and all use of marijuana, even in areas where it has been legalized by the state government. Nonetheless, the DEA's website states that research finds synthetic THC a viable treatment for nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting in cancer and AIDS patients. One can only assume that the use of drugs like marinol is restricted to terminally ill or potentially terminally ill patients by agencies like the DEA because the research to support the minimal risk of harmful side effects is not yet extensive enough.

The DEA site goes on to state that synthetic marijuana is considered safer than inhaled marijuana, but it says nothing of the efficacy of inhaled marijuana for treatment of nausea and vomiting. They indicate that the FDA has no approved treatments that involve smoking for any conditions. Fortunately for sufferers of motion sickness, the DEA is also taking the initiative to research the benefits of inhaled medical marijuana. They are also taking the initiative to ensure that medical marijuana and synthetic alternatives are available to people suffering from illness provided that the treatments prove effective.

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