Can CBD Oil help with nausea?
- Nausea is the primary defensive reaction of the body that warns it to avoid possibly consuming harmful substances. Despite being a widespread occurrence, doctors do not fully understand what causes nausea (1).
- Many anti-nausea medicines are available in the market, yet most of them come with worrisome side effects. Common adverse reactions include drowsiness, vision changes, headache, vertigo, and even abnormal heart rhythms (2).
- The consequences of using these common antiemetic drugs are the main reason why many people are seeking alternative treatments for nausea. Cannabidiol (CBD) is considered as a safer and more natural remedy as existing research suggests that it provides similar anti-nausea effects (3-5).
- Consulting a doctor, particularly one that is knowledgeable with cannabis, is the best choice for people who wish to adopt CBD into their regimen.
Why People Are Turning to CBD for Nausea
Nausea is a defensive reaction of the human body that warns it to avoid possibly ingesting noxious substances in the stomach. The most common way that the body relieves nausea is by vomiting, which is sometimes accompanied by sweating, increased salivation, paleness of the skin, and low heart rate (6).
To this day, medical professionals do not fully understand the neurobiological basis concerning nausea and vomiting (7). Although various antiemetic drugs are available, which help deal with nausea, many of them bring about side effects that can be equally worrisome.
Common adverse reactions to anti-nausea medications include dizziness, headache, constipation, drowsiness, vision changes, and sedation. Significant side effects of antiemetic medicine are vertigo, dysphoria, and low blood pressure.
Out of all side effects of antiemetic drugs, the most worrisome is QT prolongation found on an EKG or abnormal heart rhythms (8).
Additionally, many of these medications are capable of only treating specific instances of nausea.
One example is scopolamine, which is particularly useful for motion sickness nausea and morning sickness in pregnant women. It is, however, not as effective compared to treating chemotherapy-induced nausea in cancer patients.
These are some of the main reasons why a growing number of people are looking for an alternative treatment for nausea besides prescription drugs. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is seen as a potential remedy for dealing with nausea.
CBD is one of the phytocannabinoids present in the plant Cannabis sativa that is said to have numerous health benefits. What makes CBD appealing is that it does not have psychoactive effects when consumed, unlike THC (9).
To date, there are several studies that medical experts and CBD advocates are aware of, which leads them to believe that the cannabinoid can be useful in treating nausea.
One of the earliest reports of cannabidiol’s therapeutic value in treating nausea was published in 2002. Scientists in the study learned that CBD and non-psychoactive cannabinoids could interfere with nausea in rats (10).
A follow-up study was conducted in 2003 to investigate further the effects of cannabinoids in a rat model of nausea. All of the rodents in the research were given cannabinoid agents and showed that CBD is capable of suppressing nausea even in the test subjects (11).
Research in 2011 suggests that cannabinoids, including CBD, may effectively treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatment or other therapies. Linda A. Parker, a neuroscientist and CBD advocate, spearheaded the study (12).
By 2017, a review of all current knowledge on the therapeutic effects of cannabis was released by the National Academies Press. The report looks into several health conditions that can be treated with the use of cannabinoids (13).
The compilation reveals that cannabinoids may provide practical anti-nausea effects for adults suffering from nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. However, these reviewed trials did not include investigations on the effectiveness of cannabidiol in chemotherapy-induced nausea (14).
Although there is no direct evidence showing CBD as a truly effective treatment for nausea, there are studies that hint that cannabidiol is a potential anti-nausea agent (15).
There is also a growing demand from the general population for non-FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved indications of cannabidiol for nausea and emesis. This demand has led to many independent companies to produce various CBD products that are made available to the public (16).
How CBD Oil Works to Help with Nausea
Researchers do not yet fully comprehend the effects that CBD has on the symptoms of nausea. Since research is still ongoing, many in the medical community assume that these effects are most likely caused by how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the brain.
The ECS is a system present in both humans and animals and affects various processes in the body. It primarily interacts with the digestive system, including the central nervous system and the immune system (17).
It is also composed of endogenous ligands that naturally occur in the body together with cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found throughout the system, with the ECS interacting with them to engage different biological responses as needed.
Typically, the ECS controls the endogenous cannabinoids to send out signals to various locations of the body to change individual responses while maintaining overall balance. Emerging studies reveal how external cannabinoids, such as CBD oil, may be consumed in the hopes of affecting the ECS.
There are different cannabinoid receptors in the ECS, but these are the two main types:
- CB1 receptors which can be found in the central nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord
- CB2 receptors that are located in the peripheral nervous system including the digestive and immune systems
Since cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the body, the ECS can target areas that have problems each time it detects an imbalance. In the case of nausea, the ECS can send signals to the brain via CB1 receptors and possibly to the digestive tract via its CB2 receptors.
Additionally, the human body creates a compound called anandamide, which has anti-nausea properties. The substance, however, degrades immediately with the presence of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).
Since CBD oil inhibits FAAH (18), it can slow down the decomposition of anandamide enough to help provide relief for nausea.
Scientists believe CBD can help manage nausea and vomiting, including a range of other conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and more. Initial findings also point towards the concept that CBD may indeed be capable of interacting with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors (19).
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Nausea
- CBD, being a product of the Cannabis plant, offers a natural treatment alternative to synthetic drugs for nausea that can cause severe side effects.
- Cannabidiol is non-intoxicating and does not cause psychoactive effects, unlike THC.
- CBD oil may be used to treat other health conditions such as chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, and more.
- Consuming CBD is non-addictive, and in fact, studies show that cannabidiol can potentially be used as an intervention for addictive disorders (20).
- There is no clear indication that CBD is an effective way to treat nausea and vomiting, unlike in studies involving THC.
- Although it is a natural compound, CBD does bring with it some possible side effects such as diarrhea, dry mouth, drowsiness, reduced appetite, and fatigue (21).
- The legality of CBD production and use are still two of the biggest challenges that the cannabidiol industry faces today. This means that there may be CBD products sold online and in physical stores that are unregulated by the FDA.
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Nausea
People that are looking to explore alternative remedies in treating nausea should put their safety first, among other things. Fortunately, CBD is considered to have an excellent safety profile and is tolerated well in the human body, as per a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) (22).
Although the side effects of CBD consumption are possible, most of them are mild in general. CBD and its interactions with other drugs are perhaps the most worrying possible side effect of its use.
Since CBD can interfere with other medications, it is crucial for anyone wishing to add this in their diet to consult their doctors first before use. Furthermore, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid CBD for now since there is insufficient information regarding its safety during pregnancy.
The majority of synthetic antiemetic medications for nausea have far more common side effects than CBD. Many of these anti-nausea drugs can cause medical conditions such as heartburn, fatigue, headaches, and constipation, which can be worse than the natural alternative.
A clinical review in 2017 supports this theory by stating that CBD typically has far fewer side effects in comparison to prescription drugs (23). Cannabidiol, as a natural remedy without the many side effects, makes it an ideal alternative treatment for severe nausea.
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil for Nausea
Since CBD, together with THC, has the most potential for helping ease nausea and vomiting (24), experts recommend using full-spectrum CBD oil instead. This type of CBD product contains all of the phytocannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
Users can expect minimal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, flavonoids, terpenes, and essential oils in full-spectrum CBD products.
All of these chemical compounds are said to work together to intensify CBD’s healing properties, resulting in what advocates call the “entourage effect.”
People who are allergic to THC may decide to purchase broad-spectrum CBD oil as an alternative. This type of CBD product is very similar to full-spectrum, except that it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol.
Pure CBD extract in the form of isolates is also available. These products contain only pure and isolated cannabidiol and are strictly obtained from hemp oil, with all of the cannabinoids removed.
Whichever the form of CBD oil product one wishes to consume, careful consideration should be made by first seeking medical advice from a doctor. Consulting a physician that is knowledgeable in cannabis use is highly recommended.
The following factors are essential to ensure the safety and reliability of the CBD products purchased:
- Research on the exact legal stipulations applicable to CBD in the area where it would be purchased and used.
- Purchase only high-quality CBD products from legitimate and reliable brands. The majority of companies that manufacture the best CBD oil products grow their hemp from their farm, or they purchase from licensed hemp producers.
- Research product reviews before buying from an online store. When purchasing from a physical store or dispensary, check whether the store is authorized by the government to sell CBD.
- One important thing to look for in CBD products is certification codes. Several certification authorities approve certain products only after some thorough screening tests.
- Compare company claims about their products’ potency with that of the third-party lab reports.
- Consulting with a trusted medical professional who is experienced in CBD use is ideal before one purchases his or her first bottle of CBD.
CBD Dosage for Nausea
The only approved CBD product by the FDA is Epidiolex, which is a medication intended for epilepsy. This statement means that people cannot find a recommended dose of cannabidiol for nausea that has been allowed by the United States government.
Furthermore, figuring out the right CBD dosage is difficult, since its effects are different from one individual to the next. Medical experts can only suggest general guidelines to follow, and it is up to them to estimate the best dose for each person.
As for nausea, people often find relief with low doses, while only a few need anything higher to provide them with any benefit. CBD advocates recommend starting with a small dose and then increase this gradually until the user experiences relief from their symptoms.
How to Take CBD Oil for Nausea
The increasing attention on CBD oil has encouraged producers to create a variety of CBD oil products. For nausea, other forms of delivery may be better.
These are the most common types of CBD products available in the market:
CBD Oil (Sublingual)
The most common way of consuming CBD oil today is through tinctures, which is applied under the tongue for a few seconds before swallowing. This approach allows for much faster absorption of CBD, with effects felt in as little as twenty minutes.
CBD Capsules and Gummies
CBD producers invented various ways to consume the compound, with people finding CBD gummies, capsules, and other edibles available. Although easier to apply, it may take some time for the effects to show up as it needs to go through the digestive system first.
CBD for Vaping
Vaping CBD extract by way of handheld electronic devices is also another option to consume cannabinoids. CBD vape oils provide the fastest effects but do not last very long.
The primary defensive reaction of the body to avoid possibly consuming toxic substances is nausea. A common way for nausea to be relieved is by vomiting, which is sometimes accompanied by heavy sweating, salivation, paleness, and low heart rate.
Doctors, until now, do not fully understand the effects and causes of nausea. There are numerous antiemetic drugs available for the condition, yet many of them have side effects that can be troublesome.
That is why people have been flocking towards natural, alternative treatments for nausea to avoid the problems caused by prescription drug use. CBD is considered by many as a possible remedy for the disorder as it has little to no side effects.
Several studies are available proving that cannabinoids like cannabidiol have the potential to deal with nausea. Most of the research suggests CBD has antiemetic properties that may provide relief as an anti-nausea agent.
There are three main types of CBD oil sold today, with each providing a set of benefits to the user. Full-spectrum CBD is considered by medical experts to be the ideal treatment for nausea due to the presence of THC and terpenes.
The increasing demand for CBD oil has prompted many independent companies to manufacture a wide range of products based around the hemp compound. Tinctures, capsules, gummies, and vape extracts are some of the most commonly used items sold in the market today.
One thing to remember is that the legality of CBD production and use is still not finalized. There is no recommended dosage provided by the FDA, so people should instead consult with a doctor to get a suggested dose for their needs.
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- Parker LA, Mechoulam R, Schlievert C, Abbott L, Fudge ML, Burton P. Effects of cannabinoids on lithium-induced conditioned rejection reactions in a rat model of nausea. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2003;166(2):156‐162. doi:10.1007/s00213-002-1329-2
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