Understanding Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

In 2004, a team of researchers in South Australia published a research study that purported to discover a new condition: Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.  The study, entitled “Cannabinoid Hyperemesis: Cyclical Hyperemesis in Association with Chronic Cannabis Abuse,” was published in the journal Gut.

The research found that a group of long-term daily cannabis consumers were suffering an almost identical set of symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and—during the acute phase of the syndrome—abnormal bathing behavior. You read that right: abnormal bathing behavior.

Concluded the researchers, “In all cases…chronic cannabis abuse predated the onset of the cyclical vomiting illness. Cessation of cannabis abuse led to cessation of the cyclical vomiting illness in seven [of 10] cases.”

The study’s researchers identified 19 patients who were chronic (daily) cannabis consumers and exhibited a cyclical vomiting illness. Of this group, 10 patients refused to give consent or were otherwise disqualified, reducing the sample size to nine.

Concluded the researchers, “In all cases…chronic cannabis abuse predated the onset of the cyclical vomiting illness. Cessation of cannabis abuse led to cessation of the cyclical vomiting illness in seven [of 10] cases.”

“Cessation of cannabis abuse led to cessation of the cyclical vomiting illness in seven [of 10] cases.” — 2004 Australian research study

A similar study entitled “Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome” was conducted in December 2011 at Temple University and published in the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews. It concluded that this controversial condition typically strikes young adults who have been chronic consumers of cannabis for multiple years.

If allowed to go unchecked and to enter the acute (hyperemetic) stage, the study’s researchers reported that Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome can result in weight loss and dehydration, with retching so severe that it can occur up to five times per hour.

Concluded the researchers: “Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a new and under-recognized clinical entity. Although its prevalence is unknown, numerous publications have preliminarily established its unique clinical characteristics. CHS [Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome] should be considered as a plausible diagnosis in the setting of patients with recurrent intractable vomiting and [a] strong history of cannabis abuse.”

However, not all experts agree that Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is legitimate. The authors of a 2006 review study published in Gut entitled “Cannabis Hyperemesis Causation Questioned” criticized the original 2004 research cited above, labeling it a “poor study design.”

Wrote the study’s authors: “Cannabis has been consumed for many centuries and is currently used by millions of people in many countries. It is hard to believe that a distinctive syndrome caused by cannabis has never been noted before by users or clinicians.”

According to physician Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio, a Los Angeles doctor who recommends cannabis medicine to some of his patients, “Since CHS is so rare, I’d also be careful of misdiagnosis. Other gastrointestinal problems may be at play, and cannabis could be either helpful or hindering in such cases.”

“Other gastrointestinal problems may be at play, and cannabis could be either helpful or hindering in such cases.” — Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio, Los Angeles

Although more research is necessary, is it possible that some humans may be predisposed to exhibiting negative side effects—such as nausea, vomiting, and intestinal pain—after years of chronic cannabis consumption? Could ceasing the intake of cannabis help those who might be suffering this condition?

Despite the few research studies conducted during the past 14 years, the only thing that is objectively clear is that tens of millions of Americans who have consumed cannabis chronically clearly do not suffer this controversial syndrome.

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

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Articles for Patients Who Cultivate Cannabis

On January 1, 2018, nearly 40 million Californians gained the legal ability to grow up to six cannabis plants for their own consumption (or to gift to others). Patients who previously chose to obey the law and obtain cannabis only from a local dispensary now have a powerful new option: Home cannabis gardening.

In 2017, WoahStork Learn, a smart AI-focused cannabis company in Los Angeles, approached me to write a short series of cultivation articles. The following collection resulted.

Gooey Rabinski


1) Eradicating Gray Mold in Cannabis Organically


2) How to Get More Resin on Your Cannabis Nugs


3) What is Hydroponic Growing?


4) Conquering Nematodes in Cannabis Organically


5) Controlling Cannabis Leaf Septoria Organically


6) LEC vs HPS Lighting: Which is Better for Your Grow?


7) What is HPS Lighting?


8) What is LEC Lighting?


9) What is Cannabis Resin?


10) Ridding Cannabis of Powdery Mildew Organically


11) Fighting Root Rot & Algae in Cannabis Organically


12) Fighting Mites in Cannabis Organically


13) Cannabis Anatomy 101


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.