Marijuana has been linked to a chronic vomiting condition that doctors are trying to understand as more states legalize weed for medical and recreational usage.
Kaiser Health News reported via NPR that cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is becoming more visible in emergency departments, with patients reporting violent vomiting episodes and strong pain in their stomachs. The condition hits a small percentage of constant marijuana users — people who smoke a lot every day over a long period of time — and is hard to treat because it is not well understood, there isn’t a diagnostic test other than ruling out other causes, and the only known solution is to stop smoking weed.
The director of operations at Scripps Mercy Hospital told NBC San Diego that there is at least one person presenting with this condition every day in the emergency room there, and the increase in cases has spurred medical staff to make up the word “scromiting,” a portmanteau for the words “screaming” and “vomiting.”
Although doctors have yet to get to the root of the vomiting sickness, it may have something to do with how marijuana interacts with the nervous system.
When it comes to treating cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, anti-nausea meds usually won’t do the trick, although a hot bath could help relieve symptoms. According to High Times, people who experience the condition will “compulsively” bathe.
While marijuana is generally seen as a benign drug, research has shown certain downsides to weed. In one study published last year, scientists in Norway used health data from sets of twins to find if abusing marijuana had any connection to psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that cause a detachment from reality. The team said the twin in a pair that abused the drug was 3.5 times more likely to develop psychosis than their partner.
Although certain genetic influences may cause people to display both drug abuse behaviors and psychotic traits, the Norwegian scientists said twins having the same genes being raised in the same environment would not have such differing risk levels if other factors weren’t at play.
At the same time, marijuana has a number of health benefits, including for mental health issues. Previous research has drawn a link between marijuana use and ease of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, for example. The drug has also been touted for its ability to relieve pain, boost appetite, reduce seizures, ease muscle spasms and, ironically, alleviate nausea.