Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Severe nausea can happen as a side effect of all sorts of medical conditions. Constant nausea and vomiting make it difficult to eat, sleep and function in everyday life. Since it often appears as a result of an underlying condition, it gets in the way of treating your other health problems, as well.
Typical nausea medication has a lengthy list of side effects. But, some patients have avoided them entirely by opting for marijuana medicine. As one of the most studied topics related to cannabis, there’s plenty of evidence to back up medical cannabis’ benefits for nausea.
Rakhshanda et al. observed the effects of typical anti-nausea medicine and dronabinol on patients experiencing nausea after breast surgery. Dronabinol is a synthetic cannabinoid doctors use for chemotherapy-related nausea. Many patients who get breast surgery deal with nausea and vomiting afterwards. Finding a solution for it would make their experience after surgery easier.
The team reviewed a group of patients who got standard care before their operation. They also looked at a group that received dronabinol combined with another anti-nausea drug before surgery. To measure the effectiveness of the treatments, they noted the episodes of nausea and other details found in the patients’ records.
Patients who had dronabinol before their surgeries experienced less nausea and vomiting than patients who didn’t. After surgery, a larger number of patients who hadn’t taken dronabinol needed more anti-nausea treatment than those who had.
Westfall et al. surveyed patients about their experiences treating morning sickness with cannabis. Many patients deal with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and some even have it to a life-threatening extent. Since marijuana medicine can relieve nausea in other situations, the researchers wanted to see how it could reduce morning sickness.
The team recruited a total of 84 patients from two Canadian compassion societies, 79 of whom had been pregnant in the past. They took a survey asking about past pregnancy, cannabis use and the effectiveness of cannabis if they used it for morning sickness.
Out of the patients who had been pregnant in the past, 51 — or 65% — said they used cannabis during their pregnancies. Fifty-nine of the previously pregnant respondents dealt with morning sickness, and 40 of those patients used marijuana. Thirty-seven of the forty patients who used it while pregnant felt it was either effective or extremely effective.
Costiniuk et al. examined the use of cannabinoids to relieve nausea in patients undergoing hepatitis C treatment. Like cancer patients, some hepatitis C patients must go through chemotherapy, which tends to make recipients deal with severe nausea and vomiting. Finding a remedy for this side effect can help patients stick to their treatment.
To understand how effectively oral cannabinoid medications helped hepatitis C patients, the team reviewed the files of patients with the disease who went through chemotherapy. They compared patients who used cannabis medicine with those who didn’t. Specifically, they looked at weight changes, chemotherapy dosage and treatment results.
Twenty-five of the 191 patients reviewed used medicinal cannabis during treatment, and 32% of them used it to relieve nausea. Three-quarters of the patients treating their nausea with medical marijuana reported improvement. Out of all the patients treated with cannabis medicine, 64% of them reported relief of at least one symptom.
Take control of your treatment plan. Learn more about severe nausea and medical cannabis by visiting our condition guide.
An experienced medical professional can help you make important decisions about your treatment. Get in touch with a cannabis-certified doctor to schedule a medical marijuana evaluation.