CBD for Nausea: How Does it Work?

cbd for nausea

What is Nausea?

Nausea is the lingering or immediate sensation of wanting to vomit. It can come in short, intense episodes, or stay for as long as 24 hours. Prolonged nausea can deter a person’s ability to work, go to school, and generally function as a human being.

A common misconception about nausea is that it’s an illness on its own. In most cases, it is a symptom that someone has some other underlying medical condition of either physical or psychological origin. It is proven to come with illnesses of the nervous system, the gall bladder, pancreas, intestines, or stomach. It is also associated with the hormonal imbalance brought on by pregnancy.

With the rise in popularity around CBD it’s natural to wonder if CBD can help Nausea. See all CBD oil benefits here.

How can we understand the use of CBD for nausea? Most importantly, CBD oil engages the endocannabinoid system, the nervous system, and other parts of the body that make someone nauseous.

Physical Causes of Nausea

Among pregnant women, 50% to 90% are likely to suffer nausea, and among them, an average of 25% to 55% will encounter vomiting. People with high levels of inflammation, such as those who have had recent chemotherapy or radiation therapy, have the highest risk of nausea when treated in the liver, gastrointestinal tract, or the brain. However, there are more than 700 possible causes of nausea, and it’s not always easy to know the medical reason behind it.

Always see a doctor for frequent spells of nausea, especially if it doesn’t go away after two days. Here are some other possible explanations for nausea:

  • Food Poisoning
  • Head Trauma
  • Cardiac Arrests
  • Hepatitis
  • Epilepsy or Seizures
  • Viruses and Bacterial Infections
  • A Side Effect Of Potent Drugs
  • Ear Infections
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Appendicitis
  • Strokes
  • Meninigitis

Psychological Causes of Nausea

For many people, witnessing the act of vomiting is enough to cause nausea. There is a litany of psychological triggers that can cause people to get nauseous. Phobias like the sight of blood, a dead body, and staring down from a great height are legitimate reasons.

However, mental illnesses paired with disorders to the upper gastrointestinal tracts make the most compelling cases for nausea. In a 2002 General Hospital Psychiatry study, eating disorders with a mental origin, such as anorexia, anxiety disorders, bulimia, and depression are noted as common causes of nausea. Around 80% to 90% of all people who suffer from these issues also suffer from frequent nausea.

Is it Cause for Alarm?

ambulance near the emergency room
Most people will experience nausea in one form or another. Healthy people can also have hormonal imbalances, be prescribed strong medication, and have bouts of anxiety from time to time. However, nausea is no reason for alarm unless it comes with one or more of these symptoms:

  • Traces of blood in the vomit, especially when coagulated with the appearance of coffee grounds
  • Mental listlessness and confusion
  • Severe pain to the abdomen
  • Unbearable headaches
  • Stiff neck
  • High fever that exceeds 101F
  • Rapid or irregular pulse rates and breathing patterns
  • Very infrequent urination, which can be a sign of dehydration

How Does Nausea Work?

In the brain, two areas activate when people experience nausea. The chemoreceptor trigger zone or CTZ lets the entire nervous system know that there is a contaminant in a person’s digestive system. The brain sends this signal throughout the body, and vomiting usually ensues.

Another area close to the brain that has a role in making someone nauseous is the inner ear. People with vestibular neuritis are prime candidates for nausea. Those with severe vertigo and inner ear fluid imbalances often experience dizziness and problems maintaining their balance, which leads to vomiting.

Even though nausea has been around since ancient times, research is still ongoing on the source of its possible causes. It remains a struggle for medical professionals to diagnose a single root cause in healthy people who present no apparent mental, physiological, or emotional disorder. As a result, many of their patients deal with nausea regularly.

People have turned to alternative cures such as cannabis, with its compound, THC, that bonds with the receptors in the brain to reduce vomiting and dizziness. Research on the full effects of cannabinoids is still ongoing, but they have proven to be a great help even in the early days of its legalization.

What is CBD?

CBD is a popular abbreviation for cannabidiol. It is a naturally occurring substance in the Cannabis Sativa plant. From the 1960s until today, the fight for cannabis legalization and commercialization has been controversial, which led to very little research on its effects and drawbacks.

Today, CBD is considered by many as a viable treatment for several conditions that catalyze nausea.

CBD is in marijuana and industrial hemp. Most of the CBD sold online is sourced from industrial hemp that cuts off the psychoactive components present in the marijuana plant, which comes in the form of the tetrahydrocannabinol compound, or THC. THC is a stimulant that pushes the brain to produce more dopamine than usual, creating a euphoric sensation that interferes with a person’s ability to focus and process information.

THC is still federally illegal in some states, but CBD has enjoyed legalization across all areas of the United States and many countries. Hemp produces CBD by pressurizing a chamber with supercritical CO2, which will then perform like a solvent to separate the plant material from its cannabinoid compounds. It is then blended with a carrier oil, most commonly coconut oil, olive oil, or oil from the hemp plant itself, and subsequently sold as a dietary supplement in health stores.

CBD and THC are just two of the over 100 cannabinoids that can be extracted from hemp or marijuana. CBD has enjoyed the most attention from researchers because of its anti-inflammatory properties and the general sense of wellness it provides for people experiencing pain. It is believed by many scientists to be the therapeutic center of the cannabis plant.

How Does CBD Work in the Body?

taking cbd supplements for nausea
CBD comes in the form of gummy candies, capsules, vapes, or drops of oil under the tongue, bypassing digestion in the gastrointestinal tract. After ingestion, it works by interfacing with the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, which plays a role in many of its natural functions. The ECS can help regulate mood, metabolism, memory, and sleep.

CBD can stimulate the ECS without the psychoactive effects of THC. It’s worth noting; however, that research on the ECS is still in its early days, and medical professionals don’t fully understand the effects of CBD. Even though research is still ongoing for both CBD and nausea, there is some evidence that CBD can be effective against specific causes of nausea.

For example, the treatment options for cancer patients are often rigid and painful: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy. Most of them have severe side effects like the loss of appetite, lethargy, mood shifts, and nausea with vomiting. CBD is particularly effective against chronic pain through its interactions with the ECS, which helps manage cancer treatments’ peripheral side effects.

Migraine, a frequent cause for nausea, has also been proven to respond to a compound of CBD and THC. A 2017 study conducted in Europe revealed that combining CBD and THC led to less sudden, sharp episodes, and a lesser level of pain overall for people who frequently experience migraines. After following up with the subjects in 3-4 months, 40.4% reported fewer migraine attacks.

How CBD Fights Nausea

Because the mechanical action of nausea is still a puzzle to medical researchers, the medications center on treating only specific types of nausea, and they’re not without side effects. For example, dimenhydrinate is an antihistamine used to treat motion sickness with the side effects of drowsiness, ringing in the ears, and a dry mouth, nose, and throat. It is unlikely to work with other types of nausea that might come from different causes.

Most anti-nausea drugs got developed before any significant forays into endocannabinoid research. CBD interacts with a person’s naturally produced endogenous cannabinoid receptors to produce a biological response with little to no side effects. The ECS, researchers found, is mostly responsible for maintaining a level of balance in the body.

External cannabinoids like CBD oil and THC extracts may bind with the cannabinoids already present in humans. While many cannabinoid receptors in the body are still undiscovered, current research has mostly focused on

  • CB1 receptors that are prevalent in the brain, medulla oblongata, and its surrounding nerves.
  • The CB2 receptors in most nerves end up connecting the central nervous system to the skin, limbs, and organs.

CB1 and CB2 receptors live throughout the body, including all the areas that play a big role in nausea. The discovery of the ECS was a huge development in the field of pharmaceuticals. Researchers are looking for new ways to utilize the ECS to target problematic areas where an imbalance may be present, such as the digestive system and central nervous system, which is the one-two punch combination behind the nausea response.

CBD and Nausea Relief

doctor advising cbd for nausea and checking the patient
On its own, CBD can interface with the body’s CB1 receptors in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which are responsible for releasing serotonin. Given in small, controlled doses, CBD binds with serotonin and helps ease the vomiting and dizziness caused by nausea. Aside from tamping down its physiological causes, CBD can also alleviate mental anxiety with its calming properties, relieving sufferers of the angst caused by frequent episodes.

CBD’s psychoactive brother, THC, has been given a bad name since it was declared a controlled substance. But THC works as well as if not better than CBD for nausea management. THC binds with CB1 receptors in some sections of the brain, where it acts as a deterrent for vomiting.
However, because THC is a mind-altering compound, it must be administered more carefully and monitored for any adverse effects on patients. THC is capable of creating a good mental atmosphere for people under chemotherapy or other harsh modes of treatment, adding to its curative properties for alleviating chronic nausea.

CBD has a more acidic, undiluted form called CBDA, which has shown to be more reactive when binding with serotonin receptors. Studies done on rats and shrews reveal that CBDA works as an anti-emetic with a more powerful effect than both THC and CBD. CBDA can be extracted from the Cannabis Sativa plant before it has been heated and dried for CBD extraction, and currently, is mostly available in juice form.

CBD vs. Nausea from Cancer Treatments

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are two cancer treatments that are notorious for their grave side effects on the human body. Aside from nausea, vomiting, and depression, their side effects can extend to anemia, bleeding, and total loss of appetite. All these accumulate into the nocebo effect, which is a term for extremely negative expectations of the after-effects of treatment — a factor in anticipatory nausea.

The nocebo effect is most potent when the first round of chemo proves ineffective. Mainstream drugs have not been adequate for the treatment of anticipatory nausea, but THC, CBDA, and CBD is showing some promise. In a study from the University of Guelph, Dr. Linda Parker saw that the three compounds could help relieve anticipatory nausea in animal trials.

How to Get Started

For people who have been suffering from nausea caused by cancer therapies and other factors identified by their doctors, CBD, THC, and CBDA can provide significant relief. Studies have shown that the cannabis plant, taken in whole, is more effective than just THC or CBD in isolation.

In the ocean of CBD supplements in the market today, which blend should you look for to alleviate your nausea?

It’s worth remembering that nausea has more than 700 causes, and many more are left undiscovered. Therefore, treatment of nausea is highly individual, and what might work for you might not work the same way for someone else. If you have experience using CBD or THC supplements, you might already know the proportions that are right for you, but for newbies, it would help to try out different blends under the supervision of a doctor.

Many physicians who wouldn’t otherwise endorse cannabis have been more accepting of it ever since patients have reported relief from cancer therapies and psychological issues. CBD, THC, and CBDA are natural remedies that are well-tolerated by the human body, and even though we still don’t fully understand how they work, we know that they have a pronounced effect.

To get started, ask your doctor which form of cannabidiol is right for you. They come in salves, gummies, capsules, and tinctures. Find the right concentration of THC and CBD, and then make sure that your provider is telling you where their cannabis is sourced, prepared, and packaged. Use only products that are free from pesticides, metals, and other contaminants.

What do we know so far?

In the British Journal of Pharmacology, a study from 2011 revealed that THC and CBD, used on their own or combined, hold great promise in the treatment of nausea caused by cancer treatments. Another study in the same journal from 2012 showed that CBD isolates are very effective in nausea management because it activates the 5-HT(1A) subtype serotonin receptor in the central nervous system.

A 2014 study found in the European Journal of Pharmacology revealed that cannabinoid receptors have a direct role in the regulation of both vomiting and nausea. The researchers found that it was practical to use the endocannabinoid system in nullifying the symptoms of nausea.

Another paper from the same researchers of the previously mentioned study from 2012 showed that orally administered blends of CBDA and THC were “maximally effective” in reducing the symptoms of nausea. The researchers published their findings in the September 2016 edition of the journal Psychopharmacology.

CBD for Nausea in Animals

Nausea is also a common condition among cats and dogs, and it’s listed as one of the most common reasons to take them to the vet. The most obvious sign that a pet has nausea is vomiting. Still, they can also be nauseous when they’re visibly shaking, lethargic, drooling, frequently licking their lips, and exhibiting a lack of appetite.

The frequent causes of nausea in pets are:

  • Motion sickness from being carried around for long periods
  • A parasite, virus, or a bacterial infection
  • Side effects of medication
  • Food poisoning or sudden variations in their diet
  • Allergies
  • Terminal illnesses such as pancreatitis, Addison’s Disease, or cancer

CBD suppresses nausea in pets; prolonged exposure to CBD has no adverse effects and doesn’t build up a tolerance. THC and CBDA have not been conclusively researched for pets, though CBD isolates are showing considerable promise.

FAQs about CBD for Nausea

Question: How does CBD work for nausea?
Answer: CBD oil engages the endocannabinoid system, the nervous system, and other parts of the body that can help to treat nausea

Question: How does nausea work?
Answer: In the brain, two areas activate when people experience nausea. The chemoreceptor trigger zone or CTZ lets the entire nervous system know that there is a contaminant in a person’s digestive system. The brain sends this signal throughout the body, and vomiting usually ensues.

Question: What are the other benefits of CBD besides treating nausea?
Answer: CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, can help in migraines, and can be used to help you feel relax.

Question: How does CBD fight nausea?
Answer: CBD interacts with a person’s naturally produced endogenous cannabinoid receptors to produce a biological response with little to no side effects. CB1 and CB2 receptors live throughout the body, including all the areas that play a big role in nausea.

Question: Can THC be used to fight nausea?
Answer: THC works as well as if not better than CBD for nausea management. THC binds with CB1 receptors in some sections of the brain, where it acts as a deterrent for vomiting.

Question: Can CBD work for nausea in animals?
Answer: CBD can help to suppress nausea in pets, and it has no known adverse effects.

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Gene Daniels

Gene Daniels

Gene is the head of the learning CBD Oil editorial team. He has been active in the hemp community for many years publishing works on hemp-based wellness. Mr. Daniels takes great care to ensure all health-related info is pulled from reputable resources and is free of personal bias.