Evidence based

CBD and Nausea: Current Research & Understanding

Cannabis is one of the most popular anti-nausea supplements available. Here, we’ll explore how it works, and how it compares to conventional options.

Article By
Justin Cooke , posted 2 months ago

Nausea is a common symptom experienced by millions of people every day.

We’ve all felt it at some point or another — general queasiness, excessive drooling, and the urge to vomit.

Nausea can be frustrating, especially if you can’t figure out what’s causing it or how to find relief.

Anti-nausea medications aren’t effective for everybody and some come with negative side-effects including sedation or diarrhea.

Cannabis is a plant with many uses, some of which are blown way out of proportion by media hype. However, its ability to prevent or stop nausea shouldn’t be underestimated.

In fact, cannabis is one of the most reliable anti-nausea herbs available, even compared to ginger (known for its powerful anti-nausea benefits).

Here’s how CBD and cannabis extracts are used to alleviate nausea and vomiting.

  • Table of Contents

Summary: Using CBD for Nausea

All mammals have an endocannabinoid system — a series of receptors and hormone-like compounds that control homeostasis (balance) throughout the body.

One of the responsibilities of the endocannabinoid system is to regulate a special region in the medulla oblongata that controls the reflexes that trigger nausea and vomiting.

Research involving a new drug that blocks the endocannabinoid system shows that those given the drug often experienced nausea as a side-effect [2]. This is an excellent demonstration of the role the endocannabinoid system plays in regulating nausea in the brain.

Blocking the endocannabinoid system makes us feel nauseous while boosting it eliminates nausea.

Other research involving a synthetic version of THC was shown to alleviate nausea and vomiting, supporting this theory even further [1].

Tips for Using CBD for Nausea

  • THC offers the most benefits for nausea. Find a full-spectrum extract with at least some THC content to get the most benefits for nausea relief.
  • Always seek out high-quality CBD products. Poor manufacturing processes often use rancid oils and harmful additives that can lead to nausea.
  • In order to get the biggest benefits, cannabis extracts need to be used at the first sign of nausea.
  • For maximum anti-nausea effects, combine your CBD or hemp extracts with a strong ginger tea or other anti-nausea supplements. 

Nausea 101

Nausea begins with that queasy feeling in the stomach, accompanied by an urge to vomit. There are many different things that can cause nausea. The best treatment often depends on what triggered the queasiness.

Feelings of nausea originate in the brainstem in a special region known as the medulla oblongata. This region of the brain is responsible for regulating many of our autonomic (involuntary) functions such as breathing, sneezing, and vomiting.

Our automatic functions are regulated by higher regions of the brain that send signals to the medulla oblongata to make adjustments accordingly.

In the case of nausea, the brain activates the urge to vomit in an attempt to rid the digestive tract of toxic compounds (drugs or alcohol), infectious agents (bacteria or viral infections), or by mistake from abnormal neurological activity involved with migraines or brain tumors.

What Causes Nausea?

There are literally hundreds of different causes for nausea. The most common by far is food poisoning and other digestive system infections, accounting for as much as 37% of nausea cases. Roughly 3% of cases are reported to be the result of medication side-effects and pregnancy, while up to 10% of cases have no identifiable cause [3].

Nausea is also more common in young people. Children are the largest group of people who experience regular episodes of nausea, while people over the age of 65 appear to be affected the least [4].

Here are Some of the Most Common Causes of Nausea:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Anxiety
  • Brain tumors
  • Chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • Extreme levels of pain
  • Infections in the digestive tract
  • Intake of toxic compounds (drugs or alcohol)
  • Meningitis
  • Migraine headaches
  • Motion Sickness
  • Post surgery
  • Pregnancy (morning sickness)
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Vertigo

Treatment Options for Nausea

There are pharmaceutical, herbal, nutritional, and lifestyle modifications that can be used to treat nausea. Not all of them work, and some are more specific for certain causes of nausea.

Treatments for Nausea Include:

  • Medications (such as Zofran)
  • Ginger root (Zingiber officinalis)
  • Cannabis (Cannabis)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • Antibiotic medications
  • Opioid pain medications

Using Cannabis for Nausea

Cannabis is a reliable treatment for nausea and vomiting. It works through a couple of different pathways affecting the nausea center in the brain, as well as through indirect mechanisms that help manage many of the underlying causes of nausea.

The most significant effect of cannabis when it comes to treating nausea is from the effects of THC — the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. THC works by activating the CB1 receptors found in the medulla oblongata, the area responsible for making us feel nauseated [1]. By activating these receptors, we can inhibit nausea.

CBD has also been shown to reduce feelings of nausea, though it’s not considered to be as effective as THC. Most of the benefits from CBD are likely to come from its ability to increase anandamide levels, indirectly activating the CB1 receptors in the medulla through anandamide. Anandamide and THC are similar structurally and activate the same receptors in the body.

Using CBD Oils with THC

THC remains illegal for most of the world — however, times are changing.

Until the laws open up around the use of THC, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find any products with this ingredient in concentrations over the 0.3% threshold.

THC doesn’t need to be psychoactive to be effective for nausea. THCA (THC-acid), the raw (unheated) version of the compound is non-psychoactive and has been shown to offer a similar level of anti-nausea benefits as activated THC.

As laws change around THC, it’s likely that there will be new companies popping up that sell non-psychoactive THC and THCA-rich cannabis preparations aimed at treating nausea and vomiting.

Until then, we’ll have to use the high-CBD hemp extracts. In order to maximize the benefit of these products, it’s recommended that you search for a full-spectrum extract that contains the whole gamut of cannabinoids including CBG, CBC, CBN, and indeed, THC (needs to be less than 0.3% to be legal in most places).

To really supercharge the anti-nausea effects, it’s recommended that you mix your CBD or hemp extracts with a strong ginger tea. Ginger is one of the best anti-nausea herbs available and uses different mechanisms than cannabis. When combined, the effects of the two herbs compound through a concept known as synergy.

The results of doing this are very impressive.

Mixing Cannabis with Other Anti-Nausea Herbs

For maximum benefits, we recommend mixing your CBD oil with other anti-nausea herbs.

This is useful because different herbs usually offer their anti-nausea benefits through separate mechanisms. These effects combine to produce even stronger effect profiles. This is a common technique used by professional herbalists for treating nausea — which is difficult to treat with single-herb preparations.

Mixing your CBD with herbs on the list below improve nausea relief, and can make the effects appear faster.

Other Herbs With Anti-Nausea Benefits:

  • Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

You can take these herbs as tinctures, capsules, or as a strong tea. Always follow the directions on the package when using herbal supplements because the dose will vary according to how it’s manufactured.

Figuring out the effective dose of CBD oil for nausea can be difficult — this is because the effects of CBD can vary significantly from one person to the next.

There are some general guidelines you can follow to estimate what the most likely dose you’ll need might be.

Below, we’ve outlined the rough weight-to-strength dosages for CBD oils.

When it comes to nausea, some people find relief at the low-strength, others need the high-strength doses to provide any benefit. The only way to find out how this works for you is to try it out. Start with the low dose, and build up gradually to the higher doses until you find relief from symptoms.

Calculating CBD Dosage Strengths By Weight

Unit of MeasureLow StrengthMedium StrengthHigh Strength
Imperial (pounds)1 mg every 10 lbs3 mg every 10 lbs6 mg every 10 lbs
Metric (kilograms)1 mg every 4.5 kg 3 mg every 4.5 kg6 mg every 4.5 kg

Now here’s a quick dosage chart with these calculations already made for you.

Daily Doses of CBD by Weight and Strength (in mg)

Weight (lbs)Low StrengthMedium StrengthHigh Strength

100 lbs

10 mg

30 mg

60 mg

125 lbs

13 mg

38 mg

75 mg

150 lbs

15 mg

45 mg

90 mg

175 lbs

17 mg

52 mg

105 mg

200 lbs

20 mg

60 mg

120 mg

225 lbs

22 mg

67 mg

135 mg

250 lbs

25 mg

75 mg

150 mg

Due to the variability of effective doses for CBD and nausea, we recommend a medium or high potency oil for your first purchase if you’ve never used CBD before. If you need the highest dose, a low-potency oil will require too much oil to get enough CBD to produce effects.

Potential Side-Effects of CBD

Although CBD has been proven safe many times over, it’s important to know about the potential side-effects it may produce. Everybody is different, and what works in one person doesn’t always work the same way for another.

Here are some of the most common side-effects of CBD:

  • Appetite Suppression
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Lightheadedness
  • Lower heart rate
  • Sedation

Final Verdict: CBD and Nausea

The cannabis plant is an excellent anti-nausea herb, comparable to other herbs such as ginger and chamomile. It’s even been shown to offer a similar benefit to pharmaceutical anti-nausea medications, with fewer side effects.

Although THC offers the most benefits toward nausea symptoms, CBD is still highly beneficial for nausea through its ability to enhance anandamide levels in the brain. As anandamide levels rise, they activate CB1 endocannabinoid receptors in the medulla oblongata of the brain where nausea and vomiting reflexes are controlled.

Choosing the right dose can be a challenge, as everyone responds to CBD differently. We recommend finding a high-quality, mid to high potency CBD oil and titrating the dose according to how you response. This involves starting with a low dose and building up over time until you find relief from your symptoms.


References

  1. Hill, A. J., Williams, C. M., Whalley, B. J., & Stephens, G. J. (2012). Phytocannabinoids as novel therapeutic agents in CNS disorders. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 133(1), 79-97.
  2. Després, J. P., Golay, A., & Sjöström, L. (2005). Effects of rimonabant on metabolic risk factors in overweight patients with dyslipidemia. New England Journal of Medicine, 353(20), 2121-2134.
  3. Hebbard, G., & Metz, A. (2007). Nausea and vomiting in adults: A diagnostic approach. Australian family physician, 36(9), 688.
  4. Britt, H., & Fahridin, S. (2007). Presentations of nausea and vomiting. Australian family physician, 36(9), 682-683.

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