Marijuana is the most popularly used illegal drug in the United States, and it is even becoming legal in a few places across the country. It is favored because of the calming “high” that users experience and the claim that there are usually no negative side effects after smoking marijuana.
But of course, just like any other drug, everyone will react differently. Smokers may experience both bad and good highs, which will typically end after a few hours.
But for a very small percentage of regular marijuana users, the symptoms of their high can last for months or even years. They can be painful and even life threatening.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a very rare condition, found in daily, long-term marijuana smokers. The condition is fairly new, and therefore it can be extremely difficult for doctors to identify in patients – many doctors are not even entirely aware that CHS is a true medical condition. But if you ask someone who has been affected by Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, they could testify to just how real the condition is.
A source, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke to VALLEY about her experience with CHS. The condition took a hold of her boyfriend about a year ago, painfully puzzling the couple, their family and numerous doctors.
“We noticed something was going on when it got to a point that he would get sick every single time he ate – he couldn’t put food in his mouth without throwing it up,” they told VALLEY.
“It was constant sickness, and it just was clear that he was not healthy. It got to the point where all he’d want to do was sleep and stay in bed. He wanted to eat less and he was losing weight,” recalled our source, about when she saw CHS at its worst.
She also confirmed the fairly new research on CHS, noting that the nausea, stomach pain and vomiting – the three main symptoms of the condition – would occur constantly, all day, occasionally sending her boyfriend to the hospital.
According to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a hospital in Los Angeles, California, people suffering from CHS will deal with “repeated bouts of vomiting” and then have days without symptoms in between. This could be why smokers who are succumbing to CHS do not realize that something is truly wrong until these violent and painful episodes occur multiple times. These symptoms commonly even stump doctors.
“They told him it was possibly due to having a weak stomach or due to anxiety that made him unable to eat,” said the source.
When doctors finally are able to diagnose CHS, after what usually consists of a series of hospital visits, tests and questions, doctors will only give you one option for treatment: quit smoking.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome will typically go away once the patient stops smoking, and in most cases, will resurface the next time marijuana is used.
“He stopped smoking and it would be better, but then months later it started up again because he picked up weed again. And it only got worse every time he went back to smoking,” said the source.
CHS can even be so severe in some cases if not taken care of, that on top of the bouts of vomiting and sickness, it can cause seizures, dehydration, abnormalities in heart rhythm, kidney failure, shock and even brain swelling.
Doctors are not sure what exactly causes CHS in select smokers and why it only happens to an unlucky few. According to Cedars-Sinai, one cause of the condition may be how marijuana effects the digestive track after heavy use. The normal effects, which tend to suppress nausea, may be reversed after constant use because the brain stops responding to the drug in the way it initially did.
Many religious pot smokers swear that the drug can cause no harm, but Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is proof that it is possible for marijuana to do serious damage to your health.
While CHS is extremely rare, smokers should know how to identify the symptoms that they may be suffering and understand that once diagnosed, taking the leap into cutting the drug out forever is the only cure.