Cannabis may be an effective and fast-acting treatment for patients with nausea, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

Researchers used the largest US database of real-time cannabis self-administration sessions, collected by the Releaf App, to measure cannabis consumption and its effects on nausea. Participants’ symptom changes were evaluated 5 to 60 minutes after consumption. The sample included 2220 sessions completed by 886 users from June 6, 2016, to July 8, 2019.

At 1 hour after consumption, 96.4% of cannabis users reported symptom relief, 1.94% reported symptom worsening, and 1.62% reported no change in symptom intensity level.


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Cannabis users reported an average starting nausea symptom intensity of 5.84 on an 11-point visual analog scale and an ending symptom intensity of 1.99 at 1 hour, which resulted in an average reduction in symptom intensity of 3.85±2.45 points (d=1.85, P <.001). The average tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level was 39.01%, and the average cannabidiol (CBD) level was 16.26%.

Participants’ recorded symptom intensity levels began to decline immediately after cannabis consumption, with average intensity levels decreasing to 4.49 after 5 minutes, 3.55 after 15 minutes, 2.69 after 30 minutes, and 1.99 after 1 hour.

Concentrates and flower products provided faster and greater symptom relief vs edible or tincture cannabis products. Vaporizer use was generally associated with significantly less symptom relief compared with a joint or a pipe.

Higher THC potency levels were weakly associated with greater symptom relief, and higher CBD levels were generally associated with less relief from feelings of nausea. C indica products were generally associated with less symptom relief compared with C sativa or hybrid products.

The main study limitation was the use of observational data, which did not include randomization, standardized dosing, or placebo comparison. The data also did not include individuals who do not use cannabis to treat their nausea or users who did not use the app to track their consumption, which may have resulted in selection bias.

Cannabis may be a highly promising tool for treating nausea, especially treatment-resistant nausea in low-risk patient populations or in acute contexts when immediate relief is required,” the investigators noted.

“The effectiveness of cannabis for treating nausea is not without caveat, as it may induce individuals at high risk of adverse consequences to consume cannabis as well, for example, pregnant women, children, or individuals with a history of substance [use] or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome,” the study authors added. “The lack of research on longer-term effects relative to those of other antiemetics and the potential for dependence also suggest clinicians should regularly monitor their medical cannabis patients through the duration of treatment.”

Reference

Stith SS, Li X, Orozco J, et al. The effectiveness of common cannabis products for treatment of nausea. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2022;56(4):331-338. doi:10.1097/MCG.0000000000001534

This article originally appeared on Gastroenterology Advisor